Around 1pm (Pacific) today, I should have been watching Coldplay performing live from Spain... in the middle of a bull ring. I like Coldplay alright, I think I own one of their albums. But I was mostly interested in seeing the latest live concert experience on YouTube, which promised outstanding picture quality and multiple camera feeds to choose from... and then didn't deliver on that promise because the site crashed... temporarily.
Live Coldplay Concert Crashes YouTube Page
Yes, even several minutes after the start of the concert, I was not able to watch it. I had the feed up temporarily, and then Facebook friends started mentioning the link I'd shared wasn't working. Uh-oh. I refreshed the browser--stupid, stupid mistake--and then got the same "500 Internal Server Error" everyone else was reporting.
But if Internet users all know how to do one thing correctly, it's repeatedly hit the refresh button on the browser window. Finally, about 18 minutes after the hour, the error was replaced with the concert itself, and I sure am glad it was.
The Future Of Live Music Is Online
I could pay a bunch of money and see Coldplay live in person, in what will likely be an arena tour to support their new album. And I'm sure it would be awesome. But today I got to sit at home and experience a live concert like nothing television could ever produce.
The image quality was outstanding. Advertised as full 1080p, I found the stream's only quality problems to be related to my own service (I have pretty fast Internet service, but even my Netflix streams have some occasional moments where the image clarity dips momentarily).
I had three views to choose from, including the Director's Cut (the one I watched primarily), the Main Stage Cam, and the Aerial Camera. In person, I get one view, and I have to live with it no matter how far away or obstructed it might be.
They also provided little pop-up trivia nuggets or questions to fans (with corresponding Twitter hash-tags) along with song titles as every new song started, which I thought was a nice addition. Other pluses? I didn't have to worry about parking, smelly concertgoers, concession prices, or any of the other usual concert woes.
In the very near future, this will be what the majority of concerts look like. Sure, there will still be live shows in person--heck, most of the online streams we'll see in the next few years will have live audiences, just like the Coldplay concert today does. Just as people will still read books made of paper and still go to movie theaters... But technology is carving out its own section of all entertainment industries, why should the concert industry be any different? Besides, there are a ton of ways for bands to maximize their income from this sort of digital concert, whether they want to also continue touring or just perform online.
Problems With The Coldplay Concert Stream?
The experience isn't quite perfect yet, so there were a few quibbles, but they're pretty minor:
- The big one, obviously, is the 500 Internal Server Error that plagued the concert's start. That's more likely a representation of the outrageous amount of fan support for Coldplay than a problem on YouTube's end with the technology, though that's just a guess.
- I lost the feed one time, when exiting out of full-screen mode, and I had to wait several seconds for it to refresh, but then the feed was fine after that.
- There are also the infrequent quick degrades in image quality I mentioned above. That's not enough to harm the experience at all for me, but it might be for some.
- Audio is going to have a long way to go to really capture the live audio experience in a digital stream. And the audio was really good here... but in a live concert... you can feel the bass... the venue is typically laid out to wash you over with cascading sound... and it's usually inanely loud (at least for rock and pop concerts). So I don't see how a live stream online can reproduce that part of the concert experience yet, and for some that could be a deal-breaker.
You Can Still Catch The Live Coldplay Concert
The concert is actually still going on as I write this, and you can catch it here. Or, if you miss the live performance, don't fret. They'll be replaying the show at 3pm Pacific, and then running it over and over for 10 consecutive hours.
Even if you're not a huge Coldplay fan, you should at least take a look. Like it or not, this kind of thing is what the future of live music is going to look like.