Switchcam began life as a HackLolla project that broke some interesting new ground and initiated a process of development that would allow musicians to create videos of live shows out of fans' video uploads. After a lot of hard work they've pivoted and today relaunch their site with a focus on galleries composed of fans' YouTube and Instagram uploads. Fans can curate galleries of their favorite acts while musicians can claim an official page and even embed it elsewhere such as their own site or on Facebook.
I've been following Switchcam since it was Veokami. From HackLolla till sometime last year they gradually developed from providing editing tools for combining live show YouTube videos to a much more sophisticated offering.
Yet, for a variety of reasons, that path did not successfully continue in the direction they hoped to head and so they relaunched Switchcam as a service for gathering and presenting the "best fan photos & videos from live performances" in both official and fan-generated galleries.
CEO Brett Welch Discusses Switchcam's Pivot
I spoke recently with Switchcam CEO and Founder Brett Welch about the pivot which drew on their previous technology and experience to create a very useful social media tool for musicians.
The previous version of Switchcam was a somewhat complicated affair that involved such elements as:
encouraging fans to upload videos and photos from live shows,
capturing a high quality audio stream from the soundboard,
presenting the results in a form that allows one to view the show from multiple angles and can be output as a high quality video file.
There were a lot more interesting details, as shared in my post at the time, but a lot of challenging technical issues as well.
I asked Brett Welch about why they were pivoting and he pointed to a number of issues:
It was difficult to get fans to upload to Switchcam even though they were uploading to YouTube and Instagram.
It was tougher to get quality sound recordings than they expected.
There was a lot of confusion around performance rights and few labels were willing to figure that out for their artists.
Welch felt the rights problem could be worked out if the other issues were resolved but that the fan involvement was the biggest stumbling block even with the band's support.
But unlike some startups you'll read about whose pivots are more like a leap into another dimension, Switchcam had a lot to work with:
Fans were still uploading content regularly, just not to Switchcam. It's a consistent behavior that doesn't require any special encouragement.
Musicians' no. 1 request was for highlights of the show and Switchcam was finding that special moments tended to have more pics and footage from the fans. Therefore highlights could be identified algorithmically keeping the project from becoming an old school editing job.
Musicians also wanted them to add photos.
Since they'd initially developed tech for working with video from the open web, their pivot to a social media gallery with automatically gathered pics and videos that can then be curated was not that big a stretch though likely a hard decision nonetheless.
What Switchcam Is Today
The resulting product, which includes a free tier in its pricing options, is a site featuring galleries of YouTube videos and Instagram pics with a number of smart details.
Fans can input an artist and get a master page, with irrelevant content filtered out, that they can then copy and curate. Videos and pics cluster around show highlights.
Each fan that decides to curate a page for someone like John Legend will then have their own John Legend page.
When John Legend, or someone on his team, comes on the scene, they get control of the master page with a number of features including the ability to lock down fan copies, embedding on Facebook and a variety of analytics tools.
Welch pointed out that the analytics could lead to new ways of identifying superfans and locations where fans were more involved. For example, some locations drew fans who posted a lot while others didn't. That might lead to choosing a more active location for the start of a tour to get things off to a good start.
Fans who post the most or best content can also be more easily identified and Switchcam supports that process. These are the fans that are worth contacting directly to build the relationship and see what might help them keep spreading the word.
So Switchcam is not only a useful tool for gathering, curating and displaying social media but it also gives a different analytical angle that offers new insights.
Brett Welch said Switchcam has plenty more ahead to build on this concept. And though it currently features YouTube and Instagram, because the content is publicly available and very popular, they aren't tied to any one social platform and will be able to adapt in the future as things change.
And, yes, change remains the only constant in this startup game.
- Switchcam Now Produces Broadcast-Quality Crowdsourced Music Concert Videos
- Switchcam Readies Impressive Video Toolkit For Musicians
- Veokami Turns Fans Into Live Music Camera Crews
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/Facebook) is currently relaunching All World Dance. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.