Hip-hop artists Mykah 9 and Abstract Rude are running late, but nobody seems to mind. I’m in a west Eugene backyard, part of an invite-only audience for an afternoon taping of Live from Studio 541.
Joints are laid out decoratively on a nearby table, free for the taking. A bartender serves autumn-themed mixed tequila drinks, and there’s beer in the fridge. Mykah 9 and Abstract Rude, LA-based artists, are in town to perform at WildCraft Cider Works Harvest Party. They’ve also agreed to carve out a bit of time to appear on the new live music web series, platforming on YouTube.
Live from Studio 541 is just one of several such live music web series originating from Eugene, all recently launched to promote local music, to give touring artists another reason to stop here, or to provide an alternative for local music fans torn between a love for live music and an inclination to Netflix and chill.
This trend isn’t exactly new. Everyone loves NPR’s Tiny Desk concert series, and taping an Audiotree session, a live music web series from Chicago, has become a rite of passage for many young bands. There’s more where those came from, including Jam in the Van, a popular web series in which artists perform live from the confines of a tour van.
This movement has caught on to such a degree that Billy Corgan, solo artist and lead singer with Smashing Pumpkins, said recently in a video shared on Facebook that young artists should focus entirely on the internet.
“Going out into the world and playing down the street?” Don’t even bother, he said.
Live from Studio 541
Where to watch: Youtube.com
Live from Studio 541 is just one arm of Studio 541 Productions’ business model, Shae Baker of Studio 541 Productions later tells me. “One arm is production itself. The second arm is the Live from Studio 541 episodic video series platforming on YouTube. The third arm of the business is artist development,” she says.
Live from Studio 541 isn’t live streamed; it’s edited and touched up in post-production. An episode currently viewable on YouTube features Acoustic Folly, an all-acoustic version of the popular Eugene band Fortune’s Folly. Baroque Betty and Alder Street have also recorded sessions. Each episode will premiere on YouTube and then funnel into all of Studio 541’s social media channels.
“We’re trying to create a setting where local artists can get their content out,” Baker says. “We’re also trying to encourage artists touring through to stop in Eugene because they have multiple opportunities. Instead of having one booking they could potentially have two.”
Little Orange Room Sessions
Where to watch: AmericanaHighways.org
Little Orange Room Sessions is another Eugene-based web series appearing on Americana Highways, a blog magazine devoted to all things related to Americana music. Tyler Fortier records and produces albums from a small studio in his Eugene home, and he saw Little Orange Room Sessions as a natural extension of this work.
Artists who have appeared in episodes of Little Orange Room Sessions include Dead Horses, Eugene songwriter John Shipe, and the Hackles, an Astoria-based folk duo featuring Luke Ydstie of Blind Pilot.
“I love live performance video series, and there are a ton of them,” Fortier tells me via email. “I’m drawn to the videos with one camera. No cutaways.”
“Without the safety net of a multiple-camera setup, the camera itself takes on a role in the performance that I think really adds to the ‘liveness’ of it,” he says. “I hope with each of these videos that I’m offering a glimpse of a song that feels personal in a way that other live performance series maybe aren’t capturing.”
Mic on the Bike
Where to Watch: Youtube.com
Mic on the Bike is a live music YouTube series produced in conjunction with Pacific Pub Cycle. In the series, musicians are interviewed on Pacific Pub Cycle’s 14-person bicycle while touring Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood and brewery district. The band then plays a short set on the bicycle, in keeping with the Jam in the Van formula of putting artists in an unconventional environment and letting them do their thing, says Cindy Ingram, owner of Pacific Pub Cycle.
Ingram produces the series along with her son, Joaquin Arriola, and artists who have appeared on the series include Eugene rock bands Novacane and Laundry as well as the rapper Smyth.
All footage in the series is captured in an unconventional way, Ingram continues, crowdsourced from the audience using their cell phones and uploaded to Google Drive.
“It’s a way to interview people in a new and interesting way so that they’re distracted. It’s kind of a fun thing,” she says, and a nice way to showcase the Whiteaker neighborhood, as well as the broader Eugene community.
Solo Live Concerts
Solo Live Concerts doesn’t see webcasts and the traditional live-music experience as mutually exclusive. Formerly originating from Track Town Studios, Solo Live Concerts has partnered with Sessions Music Hall to produce a mix of web-only performances as well as live-streaming ticketed shows at Sessions.
“We want to be able to show what a band does live,” says Ron Carleton of Solo Live Concerts. “We don’t want any post-production.”
Solo Live Concerts recently webcast Sessions’ grand reopening show with High Step Society, winner of Eugene Weekly’s Best of Eugene Best Band category, as well as a web-only performance from Silverton-based musician Hannah Paysinger.
“We’re trying to build an audience that’s not local. We’re trying to help small local bands get in front of somebody’s eyes,” Carleton says.
The Solo Live Concerts audience is building faster than expected. In the first year, Carleton and his business partner Victor Franca hoped to have a thousand followers on Facebook. “We got them in four months,” Carleton says.
“Live streaming is the future. We’re going to feed you at home,” Carleton says. “Sit home and watch it.”