Music: Dan Neely on a new biz model, Concert Window

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How It’s New York: New York is full of concerts and culture and busy lives. Here’s a way we can get to concerts and yet stay home.
How It’s Irish: Concert Window is run by Irish trad player Dan Gurney and bluegrass fiddler Forrest O’Connor, and it’s a boon to those who can’t make it to an Irish concert across the country. Now with its relaunch, you can also catch jazz and rock.

 Dan Neely says that Dan Gurney and Forrest O’Connor have a new business model in concerts: Concert Window! We got Dan Gurney to talk about that a little in our InteReview with him that was in Irish Music Magazine, reprinted here.

Can’t make it to a gig, because it’s hundreds of miles away? You can livestream it. Gurney and O’Connor have a bunch of venues signed on. I’ve “been” to Club Passim in cyberspace. This could be a huge boon to the business… and it’s a must for fans! Dan also lets us know about a blog we might like, and congratulates the Yanks who won and competed in the All-Ireland Fleadh in Cavan (read our earlier congratulations, with some video, here!)

A version of this article was first published in the Irish Echo, August 29, 2012

It’s an exciting time to be supporting traditional music.   I recently wrote about how crowd-sourcing platforms like Kickstarter offer independent artists better opportunities to produce their work, while social networking platforms like Facebook enable the scene to be more connected and in tune with itself than ever before.

One organization that is providing exciting new opportunities for trad musicians is Concert Window, a company founded in 2010 by Dan Gurney and Forrest O’Connor, that streams live concerts in high definition on the internet; it relaunched its website on Monday.  I profiled Gurney earlier this year; he’s a top class button accordion player from upstate New York who recently released a magnificent debut solo CD, Traditional Irish Music on the Button Accordion.  His partner is Forrest O’Connor, an outstanding bluegrass mandolin player, whose father is well-known Nashville fiddler Mark O’Connor.  Gurney and O’Connor are both accomplished musicians and highly regarded in their respective traditions.

While still in school, Gurney and O’Connor witnessed firsthand the collapse of a music business model that hadn’t anticipated the effects digital technology would have on bottom lines.  But as musicians, they saw a great opportunity in concert webcasting, an idea that they felt hadn’t been properly explored but one, they wagered, that had the potential to monetize musical work very effectively.  Why not, they wondered, use technology to expand audience size and revenue stream by allowing anyone to tune in to your shows?

The company started out presenting mainly roots musics of all stripes and their offerings have been tremendous.  The trad artists they’ve helped present include Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, Téada, John Whelan and Flynn Cohen, Natalie MacMaster and Gurney’s own group with Isaac Alderson, Seán Earnest and Dylan Foley.  Other high profile folk and traditional artists that have graced Concert Window’s stream include Livingston Taylor, Joan Baez, Bela Fleck, Crooked Still and Bruce Molsky, to name just a few.

Concert Window is inexpensive and intuitive to use, and is similar to the product offered by LiveTrad, an Ireland-based company that presents traditional music concerts online.  However, while LiveTrad is generally special event-oriented, Concert Window has developed a network of high quality venues around the US which allows them to feature several shows a week and offer concerts either on a single-show basis or through an unlimited monthly subscription.

Two-thirds of Concert Window’s revenue goes to venues and artists, a duty which the company itself handles.  They have also simplified and automated the process of making venues webcast-ready (all that is required at the venue is an ordinary internet connection).  Gurney explains that the more Concert Window can handle on its end, the greater their product’s value is to venues, artists and fans.

Although Gurney and O’Connor’s primary love is for traditional musics, the site relaunch expands the list of venues with which they work to include ones that present jazz and rock.  In addition, Concert Window’s website has become faster to load and easier to use and navigate; it also now offers advance ticketing, the option of requesting an email reminder before your concert starts, and a 21-day free trial.  For more information or to being watching concerts, visit www.concertwindow.com.

Speaking of the Web: Armand Aromin, a student at the North Bennet Street School studying Violin Making and Repair and a member of the band The Ivy Leaf, is pushing trad music into the 21st century with his blog “What Should We Call Jungle Music.”  Named in reference to Donegal fiddler Néillidh Boyle’s (1899-1961) famous rant against popular music, Aromin posts short captioned animations that capture (and sometimes poke gentle fun at) the sympathies and antagonisms of today’s trad musicians.  

Finally: hearty congratulations to all the Yanks who went over to Cavan to compete in the All-Ireland Fleadh!  It was an extraordinary showing, and special congratulations are due to the following (and their teachers): Pearl River Céilí Band (1st, U-12 Céilí Band), Brian Gallery (1st, U-12 Whistle Slow Airs), Sarah Buteux (1st U-18 Fiddle), Ceoltóirí Coillte (1st, Senior Grúpaí Cheoil), Haley Richardson (2nd, U-12 Fiddle), Dylan Foley (2nd, Senior Fiddle), Eimear Arkins (2nd, Songs in Irish–Ladies; 2nd, Songs in English–Ladies; 3rd Lilting), Daniel Burke (3rd, U-15 Piano), Finbar Kantor (3rd, U-18 Fiddle Slow Airs), Mary Kay Mann (3rd Senior Harp Slow Airs) and Molly O’Riordan (3rd, U-18 Singing).  You’ve done us all proud – keep up the good music!

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