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The Digital Club Network (DCN) and Burn-One.com would like you to believe that your rock band could be legendary. In fact, they’re counting on itthat’s why they’ve wired the 9:30 Club and the Black Cat, respectively, to digitally record performances. And, if you do manage to get out of the basement and onto the Billboard charts, you’ll be happy to know that your historic first show (yup, the one where the guitarist broke all his strings and the drummer forgot to play some parts) will be broadcast online the world ’round, in beautiful streaming video.
From his Manhattan office, DCN spokespersonand proud former D.C. residentMike Molnar touts the company line: “Imagine if we had Nirvana [digitally archived from] 1985.” He means 1986, but his point is clear. The mission of DCN, and other similar companies, is to make any rock show, anywhere, available to anyone, at any time. DCN places particular emphasis on catching the next big thing before it’s the next big thing. DCN Vice President Brad Navin points out that “you can’t predict where and when these bands are going to hit”which is why DCN is planning to wire 100 clubs worldwide over the next six months.
Good deal all around, right? Bands get all kinds of free exposure, clubs get all kinds of free online publicity, and fans theoretically get a “once-in-a-lifetime” chance to see what their favorite rockers were like before all the hype. Well, maybe. In order to be Web-cast, bands must first sign over the rights to the recording made of that particular show. Though DCN promises that the artist can refuse to cooperate at any time, the language of the written agreement seems less clear on this point.
Despite this problem, the possibilities of DCN’s virtual rock shows might outweigh the legal pitfalls: In theory, anyone with an Internet connection can log on, check out a band at the various stages of its career, then come back the next night to see it performing live online. And as computers shrink our world, bands that once played for 1,000 people in medium-sized clubs can now reach out to any number of people in a really small world. When you think about it, bands have nothing to loseexcept, perhaps, the right to control recordings of their own music.Mike Kanin