Startups & Funding

StageIt Review: A Free Streaming Video Service for Live Performances

Stageit-logo StageIt is a free live streaming video service which though primarily focused on musicians, could accommodate any live performance or event. StageIt launched just six months ago and was founded by Evan Lowenstein of indie duo Evan & Jaron. I first heard about StageIt from Hypebot commenter Madalyn Sklar, the founder of GoGirls; and got a one-on-one demo last week to assess its potential.

I haven't closely investigated other live streaming services like USTREAM , Livestream, Justin.tv or the new YouTube – Live; so this is not a comparison. However, I was very impressed by StageIt's user interface and overall ease of use and would expect a lot from others if doing such a comparison.

Part of the inspiration for StageIt is Evan's own interest in finding ways to reach audiences without having to go on tour, in part, as a result of starting his own family. Clearly he's combined his experiences as a musician and entrepreneur, including being former president of HookUp Feed, to solve the problem of how to facilitate live web shows monetized by tickets and a tip jar.

Setting up an account was quick and easy and one is given a choice of when to play and for how long, though sets are limited to 30 minutes with a 20 minute encore. Shows are not archived so the experience is designed to be limited potentially increasing its value to the audience. The nearest upcoming shows are displayed on the home page and all scheduled shows are available on following pages and can also be displayed by genre.

Tickets are sold using a virtual currency called Notes, worth ten cents each, and can be doled out in batches to raise audience urgency and to also turn upcoming releases of additional batches of tickets into an event. "Pay what you can" is one pricing option and a tip jar is also available which opens up the possibility of folks responding to an excellent experience.

Korn-playing

Fan View During a Live Performance by Korn

During the show, fans can make requests and say whatever fans need to say on a chatboard which the artist can use as well though many simply respond verbally. Interaction seems to increase tipping which can occur during the live show itself. The dashboard also includes a merch store, currently with the option of displaying offerings from Amazon and iTunes, and artists can embed a trailer prior to the show to increase interest.

Artists are given a warning near the designated end of the show but can continue seamlessly into an encore. After the show a report is immediately available that includes a list of who paid what as well as the option to email ticket buyers. This opens up the possibility of thanking everybody as well as focusing on individuals.

StageIt can accommodate multiple shows at the same time and a tech support person is assigned to monitor each show in progress and assist in trouble shooting. The service is free but StageIt takes 40% of revenue excluding merch sales. There is no minimum required so StageIt only makes money when the artist makes money. Artists are paid via check or PayPal.

StageIt also pays licensing fees, so artists can do covers, as well as transaction fees. As a business model such services are a reminder of the potentially high cost of "free" which actually means deferred. Marketing is currently done by the artists.

Some well-established acts have used the service including Big Kenny, Korn, Debbie Gibson, Plain White T's and Lisa Loeb. Jimmy Buffet did a widely noted appearance at SXSW from St. Bart's which, though a promo broadcast event, revealed the potential for future usage of StageIt and did rely on the basic interface on a big screen.

Though I can see additional services being developed, such as archiving, I appreciate the focus on a clear concept and was impressed by the clean user interface that was really easy to navigate. I'm readily annoyed by the user interfaces I encounter on a daily basis so this is high praise. More importantly, it shows that StageIt knows what they're doing and understands the needs of both artists and fans to focus on the live show, not the tech.

That said, when setting up my account to broadcast, we ran into some glitches using two different browsers. Basically we couldn't get my web cam operating with the service but we didn't try to troubleshoot and I did not have the most recent version of Firefox. Nevertheless, such glitches are a reminder that artists should testdrive the service to make sure they're compatible and that the Web remains as problematic as real life!

So overall I'm giving StageIt a big thumbs up. I think it's worth investigating for any artist, including those who tour regularly, since some musicians have done shows from the back of their tour buses and it offers a more intimate venue than any but the smallest and most peaceful club. Though StageIt clearly could be used for other forms of performance, it's also worth keeping an eye on as an audience for the platform itself builds, since it could offer the potential for marketing an act to StageIt's audience as well.

Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith is a freelance writer and blogger. Flux Research is his business writing hub and All World Dance is his primary web project.

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11 Comments

  1. Hey Clyde, thank you for the shout out and writing such a great piece about StageIt. I am so impressed with Evan Lowenstein and his crew. They gave me a demo last week too. I think this service is spot on and every indie artist should take the time to check it out. I believe this is the next phase in live webcasting. And finally, a great way to monetize on it!

  2. AHHH!! THANKS SO MUCH! THIS ARTICLE COMES PERFECT TIMING FOR THE RELEASE OF MY NEW ALBUM & RELEASE PARTY THIS THURSDAY. I’M GOING TO CHECK IT OUT NOW. THANKS AGAIN HYPEBOT! :O)
    –TheSeKondElement

  3. As a frequent audience member at StageIt I’ve been exposed to numerous artists I would never have been exposed to otherwise. I absolutely love it! I can listen to a new band, then immediately buy their album on iTunes (which I frequently find myself doing) — it’s great. At the same time I’m discovering new bands, some of my favorites show up too! Some acts I’ve seen in person at concerts and via StageIt and honestly, while the experiences are both great, but StageIt definitely has a more personal and intimate feel. You get to chat with the artist and hear their latest stuff — often just days after it’s written! The best part is that artists can truly enjoying the time they spend because they are still getting compensated for their talent and time.

  4. I am addicted to STAGEIT 🙂 I love being able to watch an artist and interact with them from the comfort of my home and laptop. I would never be able to attend the amount of concerts I have without the privilege of STAGEIT. Stageit is an intimate experience you can not get anywhere else unless you were backstage with the artist at every show. Stageit truly is “A FRONT ROW SEAT TO A BACKSTAGE EXPERIENCE” If you haven’t checked it out you are really missing something. Evan really knew what the fans wanted when he created this amazing experience all while the artist is being compensated and tipped for sharing their talent. Thank you so very much for giving a shout-out to my favorite site <3

  5. I have to say I am kinda addicted to stageit and its easy to do once you get started.Evan Lowenstein did a mighty fine job creating it and being hes been in music business he knew he had fans in mind.I myself love it cause you get to interact with the artist,it is almost like being in fron roll of a live concert but at the same time,the confort at your own home.Also another feature to it is,Show me your tips which is a tip jar which we fans can tip at the show.I am honored to be apart of the Stageit family:)

  6. I love StageIt and you can find me there frequently! It is more intimate and you can actually talk with the artist and tell all the things you never get to say at a performance and get answers. Love my Sunday’s with Evan (which he needs get time to do one!) Evan Lowenstein has made a great way to see artists often not just when they are in your area!! Love StageIt

  7. “Clean user interface,” “easy to navigate…” are you on drugs?! I think StageIt has something in the concept here, but the site is clunky, stale and feels straight out of the mid 90’s when people didn’t understand how to design experiences for the web.
    Sad. Yet another company with a pretty good idea that probably doesn’t think it’s necessary to invest in good design.
    Since no one is willing to tell the truth let me spell it out: the “interface” on thsi site is awful. AWFUL. Unless you’re comparing it to the classic AOL experience, but even then I think AOL wins.

  8. Hmmm…Perhaps it’s not so much that “no one is willing to tell the truth” as that no one really shares your opinion. I’ve been a user on this site since the early Beta days and I can tell you that the interface is constantly evolving (in fact, the screen shot in the article is completely outdated, at this point). With a site like StageIt, it’s less important that it be “slick” and more important that it be easy to use, which it is. I’m not seeing what you object to. And classic AOL?! Now, come on! That’s just low. ;P

  9. I was a bit disappointed that there was no mention of audio quality and what factors go into having good audio and video.. Just a thought, and there’s probably more info on the web site. Thanks for the review!

  10. troprock, I agree, comments on audio and video would have been useful. I did not get the chance to watch a concert so would suggest doing that since many of them offer pay what you wish options.

  11. Watched performer “Lady Katherine” last night. Was impressed with the intimacy of a digital “live” show. It was fun interacting with other audience members in the chat room and between songs LK was able to respond to comments. She seemed very much in her element and at ease. Sound quality was excellent and I was suprised to learn during the encore that she was only using the mic on her computer. This is an excellent format and I look forward to viewing and interacting with other artist in the future.

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