Free All-Star Concert in March

Are you a Dead Head? Or perhaps a fan of Scott and Bryan Devendorf of the National? What would you say to the opportunity to attend a concert featuring the Devendorfs and Bob Weir of the Greatful Dead? They will be performing at a one-time-only event called the “Bridge Sessions” on Saturday, March 24, which is a fund-raiser for The bad news is that it will be held at Weir’s own TRI Studios so seating will be limited to just 50 people. And the worse news is that tickets are only available with a $1,000 donation to HeadCount.

But don’t give up yet; there is good news. The event will be broadcast live, streamed over the Internet. And you can watch it for free. That’s right: free. Nada. Zilch. How cool is that?

This should come as no surprise, given the Greatful Dead’s bellewether views on controling access to their performance art. Not only did the band not prohibit recording of their epic concerts over the decades that they toured worldwide, they even provide access to the soundboard mix for anyone who wanted to jack in. And then they encouraged people to share their recordings. Did this practice hurt their record sales? Probably not; they seemed to do just fine financially.

And so the same mindset seems to be at work here with this concert. Can’t make it? No problem; those who can will fund it, and there’s no need to get greedy about the rest. And you know that this will generate tremendous goodwill for fans of both the Dead and the National.

This is the kind of thinking that is made possible with video streaming over the Internet. 20 years ago, what would it have cost a band to call up NBC and say “We want to take over your network in prime time for an hour or two so that we can perform a free concert”? It could not have happened without a lot more money. But now we can have a group of people produce a live event and make it available worldwide if they want at just a fraction of the cost.

The world of video entertainment is changing rapidly, and “Bridge Sessions” just demonstrates what can be done with a little imagination and initiative. And I think it’s a Good Thing.