During last year’s Deck the Hall Ball at Key Arena, Dean Graziano looked around at 20,000 rabid music fans holding their phones up toward the stage, struggling to capture photos or videos—anything to bring home a permanent sliver of the concert experience. There’s gotta be a better way, he thought.
The next day, Graziano, a 43-year-old self-described serial entrepreneur, contacted a few app developer friends.
“We as fans are trying to capture this experience, but it’s shitty quality, we’re pirating and not even realizing it,” Graziano says. “I’m that guy standing there not enjoying the show. The bands are leaving, shitty content is going on YouTube and they’re not seeing any revenue from it.”
Graziano’s idea was to provide high-quality concert recordings to fans and a new revenue stream to artists. And to do it via the ubiquitous mobile phone.
“That’s where Lively was born,” he says.
Launched five months ago, Lively is a mobile app that connects concertgoers to professional live recordings moments after a show is over. A band or venue that’s “Lively enabled” records a concert set to the cloud as it happens; Lively users in the audience receive a push notification before the show is over: Do you wanna buy the show for $4.99? With a click, the recording arrives on the user’s phone as a 24-bit quality MP3. It can then be played back on any media device. Lively also records video of select concerts and makes multi-camera footage available the day after the show for $9.99.
Based out of the 11,000-square-foot, former Western Bridge space in SoDo, Lively aims to revolutionize the concert bootleg. Long the provenance of hardcore tech geeks and diehard fans, bootlegs were often hard to find and benefitted bands only in an archival capacity. Lively turns the bootleg into an instant, incremental revenue stream. Bands see extra funds come in from a service they’re already providing—they get 70 percent of sales revenue; Lively gets the remaining 30 percent.
To record quality audio to the cloud, bands or venues need a laptop or tablet and a small audio-interface device called a Duet (made by a California-based company called Apogee). Fans simply download the free app. Once they purchase a recording, they’re encouraged to share the news with friends via social media, generating further exposure for both the band and Lively.
It’s a remarkably simple, well-conceived product. Lively takes a bold step into the live-music market, one of the music industry’s only steadily growing niches, and provides a service thus far entirely lacking.
Since launching nine months ago, the company has archived about 50 shows. Graziano says he’s in the process of signing up venues around the U.S., starting here in Seattle with both Showboxes, and is in talks with major record labels, management companies and concert promoters like AEG and LiveNation. In the future he envisions Lively offering recordings of comedy shows, audio tours of local landmarks and religious sermons.
“Nobody sees this and goes, ‘I don’t get it’ or ‘It ain’t cool,’” Graziano says. “Everybody is on board. It’s the right time for this.”