Its pretty cool how quickly the music industry are embracing new ways of making money after spending years fighting against it. I attended a concert at Birmingham’s NIA on Friday Night (Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds) and as well as the usual programmes and t-shirts and other marketing stuff, I was impressed to see that they were offering a live recording of the night on a CD that you could collect 10 min’s after the gig finished.
Me being cynical thought nah, it’ll be a recorded ‘as live’ CD, but what the hey, its an interesting and nice souvenir to take home with me. At the end of the concert, we all dutifully trouped out of the hall and were directed to a ‘sheep pen’ to await the arrival of the magic CD’s. At that point I realised that perhaps it was a live CD, and that some fella was there burning them off with his laptop. Not so! A team of people were transferring CD’s from a spindle into ready printed cases, already prefilled with the Act 1 and photo excerpt CD’s whilst others ran back and forth with more CD’s! Amazing stuff, and really only a 15min delay in getting hold of the pressings.
Being intrigued by how it works, I looked up the company on the Internet (www.concertlive.co.uk) to see if I could find more information. There’s a sky news video of the process HERE (doesn’t work in the office), but basically they have their own sound engineers who sample & record the concert from backstage, then burn off the resultant recording in a trailer filled with hundreds of CD burners. As far as I can tell, the CD’s and cases come pre-printed, and the photo CD pre-pressed (its a normal silver CD), then they put the first half burned CD’s in during the second half, then put the second half CD’s in as they issue them. A genius idea, and easily achievable provided you have enough staff and enough CD burners!!! The set costs £20, so more expensive than a shop-bought album, but not stupidly priced. And it helps fend off the bootleggers who record concerts then release them on the Internet, as the performers will each receive a cut of the CD’s sales, as well as the producers and record companies.
As far as sound quality goes, its top notch. There was a problem with the sound in the Auditorium part way though where the left channel was lost, but the CD recording is perfect – I suspect they take a feed from the pre-amp and process it themselves to sound good on the CD, as well as taking a feed from atmospheric mics to get the standard ‘applause’ at the appropriate point.
But all in all, an excellent show, and some excellent idea’s for marketing. I just wish the NIA was bit better organised.