Where Live Music Lives Online

One of the best streaming sites on the planet is Wolfgang’s Vault. It’s owned by Bill Sagan, who purchased the Bill Graham archives in 2002. Graham was a legendary concert promoter who had a legendary collection of audio and video recordings of concerts and music merchandise.

After buying the Graham archives, Sagan went on to acquire the archives of the King Biscuit Flower Hour and other archives of great live music. All the audio and video they amassed is available for on demand streaming at Wolfgang’s Vault.

Springsteen at Winterland in 1978, Live Grateful Dead Shows, John Lennon, Tom Petty, Weather Report, Pearl Jam – it may be a collection that is focused on classic rock, but there’s a lot more than that, according to Eric Johnson, President and COO of Wolfgang’s Vault. They have a huge country archive, great jazz including the archives of the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals, lots of metal and more.

Wolfgang’s Vault set out to acquire the intellectual property behind the content that they deliver – something that makes them quite unique among streaming audio platforms. They own copyrights to all the master recordings they play. It’s an enviable position.

What’s more, in 2008 they purchased Daytrotter, home of the Daytrotter Session Barn where famous and less famous musicians stop by and record songs that are then available for free on that site. Bands like The National and Death Cab for Cutie to Aimee Mann and even Carly Simon, plus lots and lots of newer and indie bands make this stop on their tours.

I’m in awe of these sites and their comprehensive dedication to delivering the music – from recording it or purchasing it to making it available to everyone. They’re in control of their content. Their revenue model consists of online sales of reproduced and commemorative memorabilia from their archives, download sales of the concerts, advertising, and subscriptions to listeners that get them better streaming and other enhancements.

And who’s listening? They stream ten to tens of thousands of concerts a day – most are about 3 hours long. Daytrotter has served 15.6 million downloads. Millions of uniques visit the sites each month.

Here’s a bit of irony – Sagan bought the archive that started it all – the Bill Graham collection – from Clear Channel for $5 million in 2002… This video is an interview of Sagan discussing his vision of acquiring, archiving, and providing access to great live performances online.

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