The Bowery Presents' Jason Ross talked up the launch of The Bowery's new, self-titled YouTube channel today during early remarks at the SF MusicTech Summit - a day-long seasonal conference in San Francisco uniting the music and technology industries for deal-making, and discussion.
Featuring a short introduction to the channel from Sleigh Bells, Ross said The Bowery Presents' new YouTube channel aims to "elongate the concert cycle" for the New York promoter, who will also livestream a Sleigh Bells concert Feb. 17 on YouTube at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time. With syndication on YouTube's Noisey and Pitchfork channels, Ross said The Bowery Presents hopes its new YouTube content can help catapult artists from small venues like the Mercury Lounge to Madison Square Garden.
The Bowery's new addition to YouTube is a sign of the times. Once an expensive promotional device for major artists, music videos, interviews and livestreams have been fully assimilated by all levels of the artist community.
YouTube Strategic Partnership Business Development exec Isaac Bess said the Google-owned site has underwritten more than 100 groups like Bowery Presents to produce original video for the site, and is doing a myriad of advertising revenue-sharing deals with the virtual unknowns who gather millions of views.
Cheap, quick music video production and distribution have created a new middle class of music video artists, while giving top tier artists new opportunities, panel members said. Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn from the indie band Pomplamoose got their big break when YouTube featured their cover of "Single Ladies" on its home page, where it quickly garnered half a million views. The fame helped Dawn raise $100,000 from fans via Kickstarter, she said, which was $80,000 more than she had asked for.
YouTube stars like Tiffany Alvord have three million views for some of their songs, noted Conte. "She's killing it in her bedroom making a living as a musician."
But "being successful on YouTube is a very down to earth experience," said Dawn. "It's not like having a number one single on the radio. You're just sort of making a good living."
Indie rock act OK Go entered a whole new phase of their career by making stunning music videos, but good ones can still take take quit a bit of time and money, said OK Go digital strategy manager Mike Rosenthal. The group's recent YouTube music video - which ran during the Super Bowl - was funded not by music labels, but other corporate sponsors. Rosenthal said he worried fans might call OK Go sell-outs for the association, but that hasn't been the case.
"I think people get it more and more now than before. Who's gonna pay to make the thing?" he said. "The verdict is very much still out [on whether fans will continue to stomach the product placement]. But for us it means we get to do the things we want to do."
Conte and Dawn also have high hopes for the democratization of livestreaming through companies like Stageit. Dawn said an unknown artist can make more money playing on Stageit from her bedroom than playing a gig in San Francisco.
"It makes so much sense and we were blown away by it," she said. Such intimacy boosts artist-fan connections. "We're going to see it explode over the next few years."
YouTube also just launched in the Philippines - which has a robust music scene - and a partner there is "running around Manila livestreaming indie rock events," marveled Bess. "Think of all the Philippine indie fans around the world in Paris, New York wherever. That is the ultimate scalable way to connect people with music they want to hear."
San Francisco mayor Ed Lee opened the tenth SF MusicTech conference this morning, encouraging music and tech companies to settle in San Francisco. Sponsored by Google, LiveNation, Pandora, BMI, EMI, Soundcloud, and dozens of others, SFMusicTech is drawing several hundred California, U.S. and international attendees from the tech and music spheres for talks on content deals, licensing, copyright, APIs, ticketing, and social commerce.