05.10.2004 12:00 PM
New technology allows instant recording at concerts

Now comes instant “repurposing” of content. Only minutes after a band plays its last note on stage, fans can load a live recording of the concert onto a cigarette-lighter-size hard drive.

Beginning in late May, new digital kiosks offering the tiny drives will be installed at Maxwell’s, a small indie-rock club in Hoboken, NJ At $10 a pop for the recording, and $20 for the reusable, keychain drive, the downloading begins.

“This is a tool that allows fans to take home and share some of the best independent music from small live venues around the country,” said Daniel Stein, CEO of Dimensional Associates, a private equity firm that owns eMusic Live, which created the machines, as well as eMusic, a music file-sharing Web site, and The Orchard, a marketing firm for independent labels.

For Scott Ambrose Reilly, president of eMusic Live, the idea is to let fans have a legal copy of a live show, which gives smaller artists and their labels creative control over the quality of the recording and a commercial stake in its distribution.

The understanding is also that it is not a one-time recording. Fans can share the files with their friends, providing free word-of-mouth publicity for smaller bands.

For eMusic Live, the devices are just the next step for a service that it and other competitors already provide: burning CDs of live performances right after a show ends.

“What we were seeing is that a large number of people were taking their CDs home and ripping them to MP3s, so we thought it would benefit music fans to eliminate that middle step,” Reilly said.

The transaction is simple: The music fan goes up to the touch-screen kiosk after the show and buys the keychain drive with a credit card from a dispenser alongside the screen. Once that’s done, the miniature drive is inserted into a slot in the kiosk, and the recording — stored as MP3 files — is loaded onto the device’s 128-megabyte hard drive. That is enough space for 110 minutes of music.

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