Urgh. So, one of the best live gig video sites on the net, http://www.fabchannel.com, has closed down. I first discovered this amazing gem of a site a few years ago when looking for Bright Eyes concert footage (I was trying to prove they were crap both on album AND live). When I stumbled on FabChannel, I found a rich wealth of amazing shows featuring everyone from These Arms Are Snakes, to Girls Against Boys:
Back in March, the site ceased to exist.
Thankfully, because I hate it when sites don’t do this, site owner Justin Kniest has posted a massive blog entry outlining the reasons for the end of the site:
Fabchannel and the record Labels
No money means no content. That is the way the labels (major and independent) look at potential partnerships with internet companies. Even when it is obvious a service provides added value in promotion and sales, the mantra stays the same: no money, no content. Even when a service invests substantial amounts of money in creating high quality concert footage and an award winning platform to show it to the world, the mantra stays the same: no money, no content.
When you look at it from a label point of view it might even look logical. Their businessmodels have been hammered the last ten years by decreasing CD sales. Their radio, TV and newspaper partners are not doing their promotional job as they used to. And last but not least: the majority of consumers are now downloading tracks for free. All bad things for companies that invest in recordings of artists.
So the most important feature that new partners have to have is: MONEY. Money to counter the decrease in CD sales. Promotion has turned into a dirty word. MTV for example got big and wealthy by showing videoclips paid for by the labels. So now these labels think: We will not let that happen again. From now on everybody who wants to become a mediapartner online is going to have to pay upfront to even start!
Around 2007 it became obvious that we would have to start making some serious money on our own in order to survive. Subsidies were not going to be there forever and labels, collective rights agencies and publishers started seeing the commercial potential of the internet. That meant that for only showing the concerts we would have to pay a minimum amount per click to collective rights agencies and labels. So we had to come up with a plan to cover all of our cost without the help of subsidies.
First we looked at selling the concerts. A lot of our viewers mail us that they love our videos and want to have them as download or DVD. We pitched that idea to the labels, but not one of them saw it as an interesting businessmodel. And we do not have the rights to sell them ourselves. We need their approval.
We also did a lot of research on subscription models. The most important result from our research was that we did not have enough and appealing content to justify a subscription model that would cover our costs. If you have to pay 10 Euros per month to watch a concert archive and live webcasts you would want to see the big names too, right? Also we would have to lock up our archive which would seriously hinder the promotion of our upcoming bands. In the early days when we asked visitors to sign up to see our streams, 80% of them did not. We did not want to lose the thing we had going for us, promoting the bands that needed it.
As we do not bring in enough money to keep our service going we had to make very hard decisions. Of course we wanted to keep the archive online for you, but the cost of running the service is just too high and our money runs out. Even without us around, the money we have to pay collective rights agencies for showing the archive is way too much. And we will get sued immediately when we let you download the concerts from our archives for free.
We still believe in the concept we created. It worked as a promotional platform in the days CD’s were sold and it works today as a powerful promotion/sales platform. All of your warm replies made that even more obvious. But we also believe the next few years will be getting even more difficult as companies are forced to decrease their spendings on advertising and sponsoring. When on top of that the most important players in the music industry still don’t see what we bring to the table, nothing we can think up will help. We are fully dependent of them for recording artists.
So, goodnight sweet prince, you will be sorely missed.