My wife and I go up to London’s Royal Albert Hall whenever we can get tickets for acts we like. We don’t go often, but in recent times we’ve seen Jackson Browne, Eric Clapton and most recently Mark Knopfler. After the Eric Clapton gig, we both would have just loved a CD from the show – we both thought it was about the best Clapton gig we’d been too (and I’ve seen him a lot over the decades).
For the Mark Knopfler gig, there was a flier on each seat advertising the show on USB. I took the flier, not really thinking about it till I got home. The flier just pointed off to http://www.markknopfler-live.com/ – and to my surprise, it was not just the London show that was being offered, but a separate stick for nearly every show on the tour. The cost was £26 plus shipping!
Ten days later, I’m sitting here listening to the show. Sadly, the recording is done with a lossy codec (MP3) versus a loss-less codec. But despite that, the quality is excellent – just enough crowd nose to give it a live feel but the music shines through where it should. The stick arrived this morning and we’ve played it three times already!
This may be all the rage these days – but it was the first time I’d seen it. It seems to me to combine the ability for the fans to enjoy what they heard with ensuring the artist enjoys some revenue from the sale. A few bands, like the Grateful Dead, have encouraged fan trading of their shows for decades, but all too many artists dislike it intensely. I once had a discussion with Jimmy Page about this – like Van Morrison and others, his views were fairly strident. The week before our conversation, Page had been in Scotland testifying against a bootlegger, who on some shows probably made more money our of the bootlegging than Page did for playing!
So while, like any MP3, these will almost be traded illegally. Despite that, it’s really nice to be able to enjoy the music we heard – it’ll keep the memories a bit more alive. I just wish and hope more artists do this!