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Rock legend David Bowie last week beamed a live concert into 22 digital theaters around Europe last week, effectively creating a new concert format that is likely to become more and more common going forwards. The idea came from his record label, Sony
Music, which used a satellite to effectively allow 22 times the number of people to see the concert and saved Bowie going on a long extended tour to promote his new album.

Ideas like this have been used in popular fiction for some time and Sci-fi writer Iain Banks has postulated the idea of millions of people, if not billions, watching a single performance.

In the past to do this, one television company would film the concert and then barter the value of the filming to another TV company and so on, and in the end if enough people wanted to see the event, such as the Olympics, then virtually every broadcaster on the planet paid some money to the original film company that owned the event. But increasingly this can be done direct to the customer, not just through cinemas, but also through broadband streaming and later download, and it looks like Sony has already stolen a march on the process.

The Bowie performance was designed to be an interactive session where theater audiences quizzed the star and made requests while Bowie operated purely from his Hammersmith, London studio. In fact the experiment was a little imperfect, with reports that one or two cinemas received everything except what came out of Bowie’s microphone.

Copyright © 2003, Rethink Research

Faultline is published weekly by Rethink Research and is edited by Peter White.

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