This week at the South by Southwest festival, I found myself at a Childish Gambino concert, leaning on my tippy-toes to see over a blockade of glowing smartphones. Everyone wanted a digital souvenir of his excellent performance, but us short ones in the back were out of luck.
Lively, a startup that records and then posts high-quality audio and video of concerts without expensive equipment, might just help reduce the need to stare at a live show through your smartphone’s screen. The new service partners with artists to record and upload performances with a swift turnaround time, so you can access the high-quality sound and video whenever you feel like reliving the moment—and stop playing videographer at the actual event.
In many ways, Lively is an answer to the modern-day bootleg. You know, those shaky, echo-filled YouTube videos that inevitably surface after a memorable concert, recorded on smartphones and positioned just so to cut through the flailing, smartphone-filled hands of the crowd. (See: Justin Bieber’s surprise SXSW performance.)
This app, which is available on iOS, Android, and Windows, adds a professional gleam to any live performance you’d like to pocket. If a band wants to offer its recording through Lively, it needs three simple things: an iPad, the company’s audio management app, and an affordable piece of hardware that plugs into a soundboard.
Lively isn’t forcing bands to do all the grunt work, though. It also plans on permanently outfitting certain popular venues with the required gear. For some concerts—like the Pixies’ performance at SXSW—it’ll bring in up to three cameras to record a show.
Lively also takes care of song rights issues with labels, and then the band in question can choose to load its audio or video on the app. An artist can provide her content for free, or—if she’s hoping to make some beer money on tour—charge $4.99 for audio or $9.99 for video. Lively takes a 30 percent cut of the sale, and the rest goes to the artist.
So far the company has wrangled in some big names, including Keith Urban, Phantogram, and Portugal: The Man. A quick listen to the Pixies concert (mentioned above) confirms that the Lively audio quality is far superior to the iPhone of the drunk screaming girl flailing in front of you.
Who knows if bands will be able to afford iPads, or will go through the trouble of working with an indie app. But if Lively means that there is even one fewer person blocking my view in the crowd of a concert, I’d call it progress.