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Another night, another livestream.

Another Friday night, another night at home in quarantine. Well not exactly, I put my kitty-kat paws homemade facemask on , sanitized my hands, and headed over to Casa Domenesch where Ray Domenech was producing the third concert in the online jazz series The Hoping for the Best Tour.  I talked a little about Ray last week. Argentine by birth, he has operated restaurants in  California, Mexico, Argentina among other places.  He is also a musician and loves to produce concerts and play with and help other musicians. His restaurant, Casa Domenech – Casa D’s – is a hub for jazz and other kinds of music in Ajijic.


Ray Domenench and Chuko Soto in the “control room”

He is also an innovator and entrepreneur, so when the quarantine hit, he didn’t shut down; he shifted to take-out food and online concerts and started thinking about audiences far beyond the restaurant. Music Sin Fronteras is a sponsor of his concerts so naturally I attend them all.

If you are one of the 30 people in the country who has not experienced an online concert, you will soon.  Everyone is doing it.  In fact, so many people are doing it that I can’t keep up with the announcements I get every day for online concerts, CD release parties, online cumbia nights, singing from my living room nights, songs and Q&A nights and many other variations.  I actually tried to create a spreadsheet for myself of online concerts – band/day/time/platform/free or not.   But I gave up because it took so much time to update the list that I didn’t have time to watch anything.

Good thing that there are now lists of online concerts and performances.  Billboard has assembled a list of high wattage home concerts by popular stars at https://bit.ly/3dziDFTVulture has also put out at list at https://bit.ly/2UUZaY3, mostly pop music and not as comprehensive or detailed as Billboard but still useful. Tidal is now live streaming Jay-Z, Beyonce and many others and you can find them and many others at Tidal at Home. Even CNET has gotten in the game, publishing a list of online concerts that range from Miley Cyrus to the Vienna State Opera.  One of the most interesting listing is Vimeo Livestream, which lists everything from a Bollywood extravaganza to the Michigan State University Music School.

CaptureBut for the time being, I will continue wear my facemask and set up the video equipment and shoot set stills and videos at Casa Domenech one or two nights a week, and see who else is online the other nights.  At some point I will come back with a comprehensive look at the exploding online concert phenomenon which I think is here to stay.  It makes a lot of sense to a lot of people to pay $3 and stay home with their smokes and drinks and friends to watch a livestream concert instead of paying $30 (or $300), drive park, stand in line to get in, get beer, get food and get int a bathroom.

That having been said, I think the club world will have to do some adapting to survive.  In addition to the announcements for online concerts I get every day, I also get pleas to donate to clubs I attended so they can stay afloat until the quarantine is over. I do, but with a personal proviso: there will be a shakeout. Some venues are not going to make it and the others are going to have to adapt. I think that Ray may have a good idea on that front.  He is planning on doing both live and online music simultaneously, with a paywall.  He thinks that he can draw people in with the band, from his customer base that is part of the Casa D community, and stream the concert simultaneously to a new audience.  He may even make little on take-out food to people who want to enjoy his cuisine and music at home.

I could see the Hotel Café in Hollywood or the Rockwood in New York or Bimbos 365 in San Francisco adding livestream with a paywall and keeping attendance with a meet and greet with the bands at live shows, plus swag and selfies.  What the larger venues will do we shall see, but I think there will always be an audience for Lady Gaga extravaganzas or Pink swinging from the big top while singing.  I worry about the mid-sized clubs like Hollywood’s Fonda or Austin’s Paramount and the great mid list bands like Hirie that play them.  If these bands shift to livestream when they see they can net as much money livestreaming because they eliminate the expense of the tour and the revenue cuts with the ticket vendors and the venues, we may see more closures like Slims in San Francisco.

Bands I have been talking to say they will never go completely livestream because they can’t live without audiences.  Like actors they need feedback, applause, and the excitement that only a live audience can create. So for many bands, livestream will be another tool in the toolbox; they will perform at live concerts when they are profitable and logistically convenient, and livestream as often as possible. I hope so.  I and the rest of the music audience will be able have the best of both worlds – live music at places like Casa D’s for me, occasional big shows in the amphitheaters in Guadalajara, and my favorite local bands on my computer, phone and flatscreen. And maybe the artists will actually make a little more money.

Patrick O’Heffernan



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About Patrick O'Heffernan, Music Sin Fronteras (485 Articles)
Patrick O’Heffernan, PhD., is a music journalist based in Mexico, with a global following. He focuses on music in English and Spanish that combines rock and rap, blues and jazz and pop with music from Latin America, especially Mexico like cumbia, banda, son jarocho, and mariachi. He is also edits a local news website and is a subeditor of a local Spanish language newspaper. Check out his weekly column Music Sin Frontera on Sunday nights.

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