BLOG: Online gigs are the future of live music

"Hello Facebook!": RedBoxBlue play the social networking site's first gig.
"Hello Facebook!": RedBoxBlue play the social networking site's first gig.

Last week, UK band RedBoxBlue (no, I hadn't heard of them either) made history by becoming the first act to play a live gig on Facebook. In fact, they played five gigs on successive nights.

Sets have been broadcast on the web before, but the fact that this event took place on what (for the moment) is still the world's most talked about social networking site is significant. Where RedBoxBlue have led, others are sure to follow, and I for one couldn't be happier.

Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but the traditional gig experience no longer holds the allure that it once did. In fact, I can think of several reasons why online gigs are now a better option.

With many of us now getting all angsty about our carbon footprints and fuel prices going through the roof, virtual gigs appeal on both ethical and financial levels. If punters sit in front of their computers rather than travel to venues, they're saving the planet and saving money.

Artists are already starting to think beyond accumulating Frequent Flyer points, too. Radiohead recently refused to jet out to the USA to perform on the Conan O'Brien TV show, and it was environmental guilt that caused former CSS bassist Ira Trevisan to quit her group earlier this year. The evidence that bands would rather play a website than a stadium is stacking up.

Come together

Of course, if you stay at home, you're not sharing the gig experience with other people - something that many fans value highly - but I have to say that I'd take the sofa over a crowded mosh pit every time.

I speak from bitter experience - when I went to see Amy Winehouse a couple of years ago, I nearly got into a fight. With a woman. I won't go into the details of the incident, but it isn't one that I recall with much fondness.

Admittedly, I have enjoyed many live shows immensely, but if going to a 'real' gig now means narrowly avoiding a dust-up with a lady who looks like an angry mushroom (I promise you that she did), I'll take the web-based alternative.

Then there's the drink. Which would you prefer: a can of overpriced, under-strength, lukewarm lager poured into a plastic beaker or a posh, chilled-in-your-fridge Continental beer in a fancy glass? I think I can answer that one for you.

And of course, if you're watching an online gig and need to go to the toilet, you can make a quick visit to your own bathroom. Personally, I think that's eminently preferable to queuing for an hour to enter a room that smells like a care home for the incontinent.

So, although I have no great affinity for RedBoxBlue's music, I certainly like their thinking. Now, must dash - I'm off to the merchandise stand to buy an ill-fitting virtual T-shirt.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.