Credit: Flickr Adam Jones 68 Comeback Display

Back in 2012, Netflix released Bill Burr’s You People Are All The Same comedy special and the rest was history. Since then, the streaming giant has spent big on comedy and they’re not alone. The yet-to-be-released HBO Max is in on the act, with specials green-lighted for Tracy Morgan, John Early, Rose Matafeo and Ahir Shah. With so much money spent on comedy, surely it’s only a matter of time for streaming 4K concerts.

Music is for the ears; comedy is for the ears and eyes. This is one of many hurdles for the music industry in a digital streaming age. The reality is, people have stopped buying music. It’s at a point where music labels are reliant on gimmicks, and include editions that bundle t-shirts and even such things as energy drinks. Most people just don’t buy music anymore — they only stream.

Music isn’t free, but it is anyway

YouTube killed the music industry, not MP3s or streaming. The fact you can find someone who has uploaded a vinyl version of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures is a major problem. For most, that version is enough. There is no need to buy the vinyl, or even subscribe to a music service to dodge ads.

The second problem is that people record concerts with their phones. So, not only can you listen for free, but you can watch the concert. It’s not the same experience, yet it’s enough for those who are curious. Why should streaming services invest in 4K concerts when a consumer can get it elsewhere for free?

Re-imagining music television

What’s interesting is Apple is still exploring streaming 4K concerts. According to the report, they’re not doing it for demand, but as a means to appeal to music fans. How better to look less corporate and profit-driven than giving away access to a concept? It’s a smart business play, but it only highlights the problems already mentioned.

The truth is people haven’t become less interested in music in general. When growing up, the Thriller video release was an event. Everything stopped and people watched in amazement. MTV started a revolution. It’s only that music labels haven’t done anything to evolve since then, besides selling digital rights.

Evolution will happen at some point, and streaming 4K concerts will become massive. We can assume this with stand-up comedy specials being so prominent. The challenge is making them a true audio-visual experience that’s exclusive to the streaming platform.

Easy solutions

One easy solution that music labels can turn to immediately is remastering old concerts into 4K for streaming licensing. The idea of a remastered 4K Dolby Atmos Elvis Comeback Special is an example of an extremely appealing exclusive. There are so many concerts this applies to. What makes it perfect short-term is that it would target older audiences who are paying household subscription bills.

Another solution is for the music industry to unite and force YouTube to do something about copyright infringement. It’s either that, or they need to invest in ideas, because clearly they’ve run out.