The COVID-19 pandemic has made it nearly impossible for artists to bring fans out to a venue for a live performance, but a new Los Angeles-based startup is using technology to bring the venue to fans.
Combining high-quality video and audio streaming with a text-based ticketing system, NoCap streams concerts from well known music clubs and theaters and utilizes the venue’s full production capabilities to create a high fidelity performance experience for fans on their mobile phones and devices. Grammy-nominated producer and musician Cisco Adler — who partnered on NoCap with singer and songwriter Donavon Frankenreiter — is hoping the platform will usher in a new business model for artists, venues and touring crews that have largely been sidelined by the spread of coronavirus.
“We started this project four months ago right in the first days of the outbreak,” explains Adler, who launched NoCap with a live stream of Frankenreiter’s June 26 concert at the Belly Up Tavern in Solano Beach at $10 per ticket.
“Donovan tours 300 days a year and was concerned about getting back to work with his crew,” explains Adler, who is also co-owner of the famed Sunset Strip rock club the Roxy in West Hollywood. “Speaking with my venue staff, they were concerned that we won’t reopen until 2021. Running venues has been a tough business historically and now they needed a new model for generating revenue and connecting artists and fans.”
NoCap’s model is built as both promoter and technology provider. For some shows, it will serve the role of traditional promoter, taking a risk position as a presenter that stages and settles the show, but its main business will be licensing its technology to venues and promoters for high quality streams of their events shot by multiple cameramen and mixed and directed live. Audio comes directly from the soundboard and most shows take a full production crew to produce.
“There’s costs with the traditional live shows and there’s costs with a virtual live show, but it’s not an extraneous expense,” Adler says. “There’s no travel, there’s no bus and only a couple people staffing the venue.”
While paid livestreaming has existed for nearly decade, NoCap is one of the first to be custom built for music clubs. The company uses a text message-based ticketing platform where fans can easily purchase tickets and buy merchandise. After the June 26 concert, Frankenreiter sent a personalized text message to fans thanking them for attending the show, with instructions on how to rewatch the concert in a 48-hour window. Bands can choose to extend the window, Adler said, or make their appearance available as a live-only experience.
“We’re really artists friendly and want to work with everyone. Some artists want their shows to live on forever, others only want it to exist in that moment,” he says. “If an artist had a bad show, they don’t necessarily want it to live on forever and have people watch it over and over, and NoCap gives artists the power to make that choice if that is what they want.”
While Adler is best known as an artist for his three albums with rapper Shwayze, as well as four solo albums including 2019’s Hippieland, he is also a partner on a number of startups, including House Beer and Outstanding Foods. He is also the founder of the Cocoon Malibu talent incubator and accelerator. The son of famed record producer and music executive Lou Adler, he releases his music through his label Bananabeat Records and oversees Malibu Publishing International as a joint venture with Pulse Songs.
After the pandemic, Adler believes NoCap will become an important revenue source for the concert business, giving smaller, intimate spaces a chance to operate with an unlimited capacity. It will also serve fans who couldn’t previously get a ticket for a sold-out show, or who live in different regions of the world and want to tune in to watch a performance by their favorite artist.
Next up for NoCap is an album release show for Iration on Thursday from the SOhO in Santa Barbara to promote their new record Coastin, which drops the following day. The show starts at 7 p.m. PST and is free.
For more information, visit nocapshows.com.