Video-on-demand has been a hotly covered topic in ADOTAS as of late, and its impending explosion couldn’t have come at a better time considering our YouTube-devoted era.
Following our lengthy chat with Vin Bhat at Bollywood content provider BODVOD, as well as similar multicultural, a la carte video outlets including SIVOO, we now shift gears to the live music realm and arguably the leader in this specific market, CONCERT.TV.
With a focus strictly—and appropriately—on live music (minus a specific genre focus), the emerging media outlet has made its presence known by providing original, exclusive and licensed live footage from some of the most heralded music artists, past and present (everyone from Bowie to Alicia Keys to the White Stripes and numerous underground/alternative artists).
Having made its mark on the digital cable landscape from the outset, 2007 marks the year where CONCERT.TV takes big strides in the online/broadband space—from both content and advertising standpoints.
Recently, ADOTAS chatted with CONCERT.TV co-founder/CEO Jeff Shultz (pictured), a former corporate finance attorney who traded the courtroom for the digital space by heading business development efforts at NBCi, the online arm of the NBC network. Shultz, who currently oversees distribution, advertising, business and finance affairs for CONCERT.TV, shed light on his company’s history, its business model, and how this live performance programming outlet plans to create more distribution and branding opportunities in ’07.
Hi Jeff, so give me some background and business model info on Concert.TV
We’re the first television network dedicated to music performance documentaries. We launched 3 ½ years ago in September 2003, and now we’re carried to a little a north of 16 million homes through Comcast, Cox, and Charter. 2007 should be a big year frankly in terms of growing that number of 16 million, because each of those MSOs has their own aggressive plan in terms of converting analog to digital and converting digital customers to video-on-demand.
We also expect to see real movement in terms of new distribution. We’re planning on launching on satellite, and then rolling out broadband in a big way in 2007. We take advantage of the focus both narrowly on live music, and broadly on genres of music. It really is the best styles of live music regardless of when it was performed or who was performing it. That gives us a lot of freedom to reach a lot of people.
I was digging through my email and I found something that one of our programming guys put together, a snapshot of the program schedule for December, January and February. Each of the months are really strong, but it’s so diverse that it couldn’t be a better listing. It’s a great snapshot about how each of these artists in their own right is interesting. But when you package them all together, the fact that you have so many artists of such different tastes all in one place, it’s a perfect illustration of what we’re trying to do.
It makes sense to blur the genres.
That’s right, with one exception. Every month, we have a programming focus which is a monthly theme. December was really interesting. It was the Best of 2006, and that was a virtual voting booth. During the year, people are watching by pressing play, which creates a census count. It creates a record of how many people watched what thing. In December, we added it all up and we programmed an entire month of what was most popular during the year. And as you can imagine, it was an incredibly popular month. It was a record that more people watched [Concert.tv] than any other time before in our history.
What about this month?
February being Black History Month lets us go at that programming theme broadly, so it would be Marvin Gaye and Busta Rhymes. On a broad basis, we’re still touching as many consumers as we can.
Your archive section definitely appeals to music diehards.
I think one of the mistakes that’s been made…in the live music video business is the [assumption] that something had to be brand new or happening live in order to be interesting. Some of the most popular programs we air are some of the oldest. Led Zeppelin from the 70s was one of the most popular programs we’ve ever aired. That’s one of the things we’re definitely embracing is to package up the old stuff with the new stuff.
How do you guys procure the rights for all the content?
It’s a big part of what we do. It’s almost half of what our human resources spend time dying. Artists and management oftentimes control themselves. Independent labels are doing a lot and they tend to be very forward-thinking in how they use their material and how they promote their artists. And then there’s are a whole lot of stuff that’s just been created, hundreds or thousands of hours of programming that’s created by major media companies and independent producers who have really just been waiting for a way to get to consumers. That’s where we come in. So a lot of our day has just been finding the stuff, and putting together the relationships and exploiting it.
A bigger example was Later with Jools Holland from BBC. This is one of the longest-running music series in the world. It’s perfect for us in that it’s a time machine. We can go all the way back to Page & Plant, or we can show Coldplay from last year. But it’s only gotten limited play in the United States. A lot of people don’t know the name and the brand. A lot of people haven’t been exposed to it. So what we did is we put together an exclusive deal to be the exclusive home in the United States for the entire series. So over the course of the next three years, Concert.TV will air the entire series. We launched it in October/November, and so far the reception has been extraordinary. People are loving it.