Instant Concert Recordings. It's All In There. Forever.

According to this article on CNET, EMI is launching something they're calling Abbey Road Live (which is a pretty bizarre name, but I won't get into the naming issues). The idea has been around for a while, but they are the first major to get on board. Basically, they record the concert, mix it on the spot and you can leave with a CD or flash drive for roughly $20. You can also stream or download from home later. I have mixed thoughts about it. The fan in me wants to say it's the perfect souvenir. But... the reality of most live shows is that they aren't about the audio, they are about the experience. In fact, they are usually pretty flawed and raw from a performance perspective. And if you take out the rest of the experience, are you left with just a crappy bootleg? There's also something in me that believes that a show is special because it is a moment in time. It's here and gone. So you can remember that version of "Up To The Mountain (MLK Song)" as the best it has ever, ever been and it lives on forever as pure and perfect. As for the business side of me, it's left wondering if this will cannibalize other merch sales. Why would I buy an ugly BigFaceTee for $35 just to remember the show when I have something that seems like a better souvenir? Besides, most artists just can't sing that well live. Even with autotune. So what is the longer term impact on the brand of getting the extra $20 out of the fans? Does owning proof that your favorite singer can't sing very well make you go back and listen to the studio recordings with a skeptical ear? Does it retroactively make the concert less magical instead of more magical over time? And does that make you less likely to buy a ticket next time? Honestly, I don't know. But if I were running a major artist's career, I'd certainly be asking those questions and looking for answers with some data behind them before I rolled it out in a big way. What do you think? Would you buy an Abbey Road Live show recording? Would you let your artist sell them?

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