Live & Touring

Look Sessions Austin: 27 Bands Performing In A Hotel Room During SXSW

Looksessions_austin2012Look Sessions is a series of stripped down live performances envisioned and videotaped by musician/media artist Andrea Alseri.  Alseri emphasizes an aesthetic and practical approach she terms "One Mic, One Camera, One Take."  During SXSW 2012 Alseri taped 27 bands in 3 days in a hotel room with assistance from CD Baby's Ben Hubbird. Most have been posted and the rest are on their way.

Andrea Alseri began videotaping friends for the first Look Sessions back in the fall. Many of those artists are part of a larger network associated with LA's The Hotel Cafe. As more people found out about her videos she extended her work beyond her friends to include a broader range of artists.

Trailer for Look Sessions Austin 2012

I spoke with both Andrea Alseri and Ben Hubbird about Look Sessions Austin 2012. They came about in part because Hubbird wanted to do a CD Baby related event at SXSW and had also wanted to work with Alseri on something. Given that he started a bit late to do anything official, he came up with the idea of taking one of CD Baby's hotel rooms and turning it into a studio for 3 days of videotaping.

Looking at it now it seems pretty obvious that taping 9 bands a day, even if it was just a couple of songs each, was going to be a big task. Alseri says it didn't really hit her until she started getting a flood of emails from band members and reps working out the scheduling over the 3 days. But everyone involved focused on making the project work and it apparently went very well.

I was most surprised that they didn't get kicked out by the hotel but Hubbird says most people there were attending SXSW and both noted that their afternoon shooting schedule meant the hotel was pretty empty when they shot. Alseri's "One Mic, One Camera, One Take" approach helped keep things simple but it still must have been pretty noisy. Hubbird noted that they were ready to take it to the streets and find a park or other location if need be but there were no complaints.

Young Hines – Only in a Dream

There was no live audience for the SXSW Look Sessions so this was an official event designed to take advantage of the presence and availability of the huge number of artists in town for SXSW that would then find its audience on the web. CD Baby and Pledge Music helped Alseri come up with the artists and Blue Microphones provided her with mics. CD Baby also supplied the hotel room but, beyond that, Alseri has been funding Look Sessions herself.

Alseri says her focus has been on creating a great product that's free to fans and artists. She really want to forefront the art and prefers presenting videos on Vimeo because of the lack of advertising. At the same time, she is also a touring musician so there needs to be an eventual return to continue the project. She says that if she can't find an acceptable way to monetize Look Sessions by the fall she may simple call it a one year project and leave it at that.

If Look Sessions only lasts a year, it will still leave an impressive body of work that can continue to exist on the web for quite a while. But Alseri says she would love to do something a bit bigger, perhaps more along the lines of MTV Unplugged, but that would obviously take interest from larger entities.The situation leaves her with what she describes as a "conundrum."

As a performer, she doesn't want to spend all her time producing videos and with her current approach to Look Sessions, she's straddling that line a bit. But it's difficult to envision taking a bigger step without crossing over. Hopefully Alseri will find a way to resolve that conundrum but however things turn out the existence of Look Sessions is already a fine contribution.

Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith blogs about business at Flux Research: Business & Revenue Models and about dance at All World Dance:News. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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