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A&E >  Entertainment

Bandsintown launches subscription service offering exclusive live concerts

UPDATED: Thu., Jan. 21, 2021

Singer-songwriter Josh Ritter is from Moscow, Idaho.  (Courtesy)
Singer-songwriter Josh Ritter is from Moscow, Idaho. (Courtesy)
By Julien A. Luebbers For The Spokesman-Review

If you had wanted to know last January when your favorite band was coming to town, or which artists were expected to grace Spokane with a concert, you probably would have looked it up.

And, in all likelihood, you would have ended up on bandsintown.com, which for years has been a central medium for connecting live performing artists to eager audience members. Bandsintown would have told you about Ice Cube, Weezer and many more artists slated to take the stage in Spokane in 2020.

But then the pandemic hit, and artists and concert venues have been suffering ever since. Bandsintown saw its live concert tracking irrelevant and was quick to pivot when artists began hosting livestreamed concerts from their homes or empty venues.

In the early months, YouTube was a common platform for these little shows. Artists like Moscow, Idaho, native Josh Ritter and Seattleite Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie were hosting weekly livestreams from their living rooms, just them and a guitar.

The most recent development in this trend, though, comes from concert hub bandsintown.com: a brand-new monthly streaming service for concerts. For $10 a month, subscribers can access more than 25 exclusive concerts recorded just for Bandsintown Plus members.

It’s something of a downgrade from the free YouTube livestreams of April, but, since summer, artists have started to monetize livestreams, selling access to small, almost intimate concerts for about $20.

The production value, too, has improved at Bandsintown Plus, as artists go to studios or stages to record instead of their living rooms.

From that perspective, $10 a month sounds cheap. Plus, the lineup for the next few weeks is somewhat stacked.

Bandsintown has already had huge names grace the “stage” – Phoebe Bridgers on Thursday and Flying Lotus, Waxahatchee and Fleet Foxes on the horizon.

The lineup isn’t just big names, though. You’ll find a selection of up-and-coming artists across all genres, too. And some of the artists even have supporting acts like you’d expect at an in-person venue.

As if livestreamed concerts were not enough, exclusive interviews, Q&As and live chats are also included in the monthly package. Not to mention that your viewership and subscription will be going to sustain these artists, as touring musicians, especially those below the top tier of fame, have not had it easy during the pandemic recession.

The biggest drawback is that this new service hardly supports local venues like the Knitting Factory, Big Dipper and others nationwide.

It does at least rekindle the public’s interest in one day visiting such venues. It seems unlikely that, when we’re allowed to return to live concerts, streaming will remain so appealing.

That said, the lower ticket price of streaming might serve to allow more people to enjoy live music.

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