Monterey Jazz Festival taps Web streaming to expand audience

Monterey Jazz Festival organizers decided that 2011 was the year they would bring performances from the venerable festival to a global audience via streaming media.

The decision paid off as the festival and two media partners reported impressive online viewing statistics for performers, including the Robert Glasper Experiment, Carmen Souza and the Benny Green Trio.

Streaming media and content delivery provider StreamGuys provided the Internet broadcast services for the 54th Monterey Jazz Festival. Evening performances from the Night Club/Bill Berry Stage were hosted live over the websites of the Monterey Jazz Festival and Santa Cruz-based NPR member station KUSP-FM. Popular NPR jazz music blog “A Blog Supreme” also hosted the performances.

StreamGuys delivered H.264 video and AAC+ audio at varying bit rates to support an array of user speeds and media players. The company used its scalable, virtualized streaming infrastructure to deliver live, synchronized video and audio streams to desktops, laptops and mobile devices. StreamGuys provided embedded media players to all three websites to give viewers direct, simple and free access to the live streams.

Timothy Orr, marketing associate for Monterey Jazz Festival, noted that streaming media offers a unique opportunity to introduce jazz to new audiences. The webcast recorded more than 3000 visitors from 59 countries, and expects that to grow in the coming years with more advance promotion.

The Monterey Jazz Festival first experimented with streaming media in April 2011, delivering stationary, single-camera live feeds to the Internet for its Next Generation Jazz Festival, which highlights top student musicians from around the country. Orr and his team, together with representatives from KUSP, soon began conversations with StreamGuys to put streaming plans in place for the 2011 Monterey Jazz Festival.

McCune Audio produced the live video and audio, handing off the synchronized signal to StreamGuys via a Wirecast encoder. StreamGuys re-wrapped the original H.264 video stream for delivery to Apple iOS systems, Android mobile devices and embedded Flash players for Web streaming. Multiple audio bit rates (300kb/s, 800kb/s and 1500kb/s) supported adaptive bit rate streaming in iOS and Web-based platforms, ensuring that almost anyone with a 3G, Wi-Fi or broadband connection could stream the performances.