EMI to offer instant concert recordings

An initiative called Abbey Road Live will enable concert attendees to buy CDs, DVDs, or flash cards with recordings of the show they just heard.

Record label EMI this week announced that it will begin selling on-the-spot recordings of concerts.

The name of the initiative, Abbey Road Live, is a bit misleading--it doesn't have anything to do with the Beatles album or the recording studio after which it was named.

Rather, EMI is using its Abbey Road brand to indicate that these aren't low-quality bootlegs but professional multitrack recordings, mixed and mastered on the spot, and sold on CDs, DVDs, or flash drives to fans at the venue. EMI also said on Wednesday that it plans to make the recordings available as streams or downloads, so fans can access them from home.

Instant concert recording isn't new: EMI sub-label Mute Records has had a similar program in place since 2004--according to the press release, 10 percent of fans at a recent Blur concert downloaded the show afterward--and Willie Nelson has been selling flash drives with on-the-spot concert recordings for several years.

But having a large record label like EMI on board legitimizes the practice. It's a no-brainer way for live acts to earn some extra cash--and great for fans as well. I can think of many concerts I've attended, after which I would gladly have paid another $20 for a recording. This should become standard operating practice in the next couple of years.

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