House of Blues sings song of convergence

Apr 16, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Live-music venue chain House of Blues is in talks with interactive television infrastructure provider RespondTV to develop a new interactive television channel.
Details are sketchy on the content the channel will offer, but the project is part of HOB’s ongoing effort to create new high-tech platforms for fans to interact with performing musicians.
Like many media companies grappling with the challenges inherent in creating interactive entertainment, House of Blues is busy trying to cement the technology infrastructure that will serve as the channel’s backbone. Although HOB would like to broadcast via Motorola’s robust DCT5000 set-top box, the company is realistic about the dim likelihood of those boxes being deployed by U.S. multiple system operators in the near term.
Sean Badding, a senior analyst at the Carmel Group, lauded House of Blues for its venture into the interactive television market. “It’s certainly a move in the right direction,” he said. “House of Blues already has one of the best [live-music] draws on the Web itself. Now, to tap into RespondTV’s advertising tool is great.”
But Mr. Badding cautioned that although Motorola’s DCT5000 may appear attractive to content developers because of its sturdy hard drive that can support both video on demand and digital video recording services, current economic conditions may leave American consumers unable to bear the cost of such sophisticated interactive set-top boxes.
“The [less-expensive] DCT2000 is where the cash revenues are being generated,” he said. “The cable operators are really pushing the DCT2000s to the content providers. The DCT5000s will be very successful within the next few years. What House of Blues [should] do is round up this compelling content and stick it on the DCT2000 box.”
During the past few years, House of Blues has begun to wet its feet in new media by sending music broadcasts over the Internet. Video footage of the venue’s concerts is combined with interviews of artists at the HOB entertainment studio on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles before being streamed to Internet users’ personal computers with the assistance of Williams Communciations’ fiber-optic networks.
In striving to position itself on live music’s cutting edge, House of Blues isn’t limiting itself to terrestrial high-tech entertainment vehicles. Earlier this year, the venue operator announced that it will take the alternative radio market for a test drive by producing programming for Sirius Satellite Radio’s automobile-based service.
The partnership with Sirius is a natural for House of Blues because HOB competes with SFX Entertainment, the live music venue arm of media conglomerate Clear Channel Communications. Clear Channel is an investor in XM Satellite Radio, Sirius’ chief competitor.
Sirius, which hopes to launch its subscription service later this year, will differentiate itself from traditional analog radio by offering 50 commercial-free music channels and an additional 50 commercial-supported channels that carry talk programming. Live music recorded at House of Blues will be included on one of Sirius’ live music channels, and interviews with House of Blues-affiliated performers would be incorporated into the ad-supported A&E Channel for Sirius’ listeners.
Broadcasts from several live-music forums will be incorporated into Sirius’ programming lineup, according to Elana Sofko, Sirius’ director of talk and sales partners. A Sirius dance channel will air live music from Webster Hall, a decadently adorned dance club in New York City’s East Village, and another Sirius channel will feature music recorded at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.