Phish to offer SHN downloads of NYE and future shows
December 20, 2002 8:19 PM   Subscribe

Live Phish (for flame's sake, this is not a post about the band itself) is a new service created by Phish through which people can download SHN or MP3's of their upcoming new years eve shows and burn them themselves, for a fee of course. The recordings are due to be available two days after the shows are over. It will be interesting to see if the service is successful and profitable. Assuming it is, will there be an effect on the music industry and the RIAA? Might they realize they can make money on music downloaded on the internet? Only time will tell.
posted by kurtosis (15 comments total)
Its a good concept, but are they not going to allow tapers at these shows like they do for all the others? I can get pretty much any show in mp3 or shn format now. I guess the quality will be excellent (i'm assuming that they will use a soundboard feed).

I doubt there will be much affect on the RIAA since Phish and similar bands already allow live recording.
posted by jbelshaw at 8:46 PM on December 20, 2002

You could probably just download it from the internet archive, I don't see how they could stop the taping community.
posted by Stan Chin at 8:54 PM on December 20, 2002

This is getting very mixed reactions from the fans. There's a huge trading community that seems to feel a bit threatened by this. Even considering that the downloads are crispy soundboards rather than audience recordings, $18 seems a little steep--but I commend them for trying this. I imagine I'll continue to get the bulk of my shows for free (taping, and trading AUDs, is still permitted).
posted by muckster at 8:54 PM on December 20, 2002

Stan, the etree archive doesn't offer Phish, and you'll have a hard time finding recent soundboards anywhere.
posted by muckster at 8:55 PM on December 20, 2002

Seems like this is proving this recent thread: "Free is eventually replaced by a higher-quality paid service."

and now i'll shut up for a while
posted by muckster at 8:59 PM on December 20, 2002

The modified the taping policy so you can still trade the tapes of the shows (and changed it so you can now trade shows that have been released.) The files are Paul's soundboards so they should be similar in quality to the Live Phish CD series. From the sound of things, more shows on the winter tour will be available.

From their perspective, it probably doesn't cost a whole lot to make a show available. Having put many a DAT onto CD, it will never take longer than a day to do. As they explain in the faq, their costs are covered by the price. More choice, more potential customers right?

Anyhow, if they manage to get 50000 people to purchase this run (split evenly between shn and mp3) the gross is $1,997,500. Not spectacular, but not chump change either. Assuming, more shows are available throughout Q1, a target of 2 million gross seems like an achievable (probably difficult to achieve, but achievable considering most albums generate 500,000+ in sales for them.)

So, if the band can turn a profit doing this, does it make a strong enough business case for making back catalog's of music available for download in cd quality format? I would think yes, if Phish can generate a solid profit over a full year of sales.
posted by kurtosis at 9:12 PM on December 20, 2002

Just want to say that I don't get SHN. SHN is way too much of a hassle, why not just offer 256kbit MP3s? They were proven in blind tests to be indistinguishable from CDs.

As for Phish, well I think it's a good idea, I'd rather buy soundboard boots from the band and give them money than a bootlegger.
posted by riffola at 10:11 PM on December 20, 2002

The delivery of "shackle-free unencrypted files" for a fee will work for Phish. It could probably work for many other artists, but Phish does a great job of speaking clearly and respectfully to their fans whereas the recording industry in general does not.

"Live Phish Downloads relies on an honor system, and we ask that you do not abuse the unrestricted nature of these files." Simple as that.

The FAQ does a good job of explaining what this is about, especially the "Why should I pay for what I can get for free?" section. I just downloaded the free sample soundboard show and copied into itunes and it was too easy. It was fast, all the tags are there, and I didn't have to wait around for someone to be online or grovel or waste untold hours searching online to get it. Plus, there's no asshole standing next to the mic talking and whoohooing the whole show. A+
posted by mblandi at 11:49 PM on December 20, 2002

Many fans prefer AUD's because it's nice to hear a large crowd reaction to some parts of songs (e.g. - the buildup in YEM, the "Hey!" in Punch, etc.). Provided those mic's are directional, and on stands 20ft. up in the air, away from the yammering idiots in the audience asking their neighbors to pass the roach.

As a fan myself, I've got nothing against it. Oh, and the argument for SHN's is not only that they're lossless, but that you don't have to worry about paying into the Frauenhoffer Coffer. Of course, you could just encode them into Ogg format. Personally, anything over 256k variable bitrate is overkill. But try arguing that to guy's with $900 portable DAT recorders and $1000 mic's.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:45 AM on December 21, 2002

Another benefit of SHN over mp3 is that unless you've managed to somehow byte-align your mp3s, you're going to get at least a small hiccup between tracks. I've yet to hear an mp3 set of a live show, anyway, that didn't have annoying catches between tracks.
posted by hades at 1:56 AM on December 21, 2002

I rather liked their system requirements info in the FAQ:

What are the recommended specs for enjoying Live Phish Downloads?
Windows 98SE, 2000, ME, XP, or later
128 MB RAM
10 GB Hard Drive (a larger hard drive is optimal)
Pentium III 750MHz or faster (or equivalent)
Cable Modem or DSL
Internet Explorer 5.5 or later

Mac OS
Mac OS 9.1 or later
128 MB RAM
10GB Hard Drive (a larger hard drive is optimal)
Cable Modem or DSL
Internet Explorer 5 or later

You probably don't need our advice.
posted by tdominey at 7:08 AM on December 21, 2002

This is a good idea, but it seems slightly overpriced knowing the volume of shows fans like to collect. I think a subscription version of this service would be quite popular. It's cool that they made PDF files so you could print CD labels and liner notes.

Many fans prefer AUD's because it's nice to hear a large crowd reaction to some parts of songs (e.g. - the buildup in YEM, the "Hey!" in Punch, etc.).

You get this on the soundboard recordings too, no? I'm pretty sure they've got mics to pick up crowd reaction. I never noticed a lack of crowd noise in the live recordings Phish has released.
posted by finn at 10:20 AM on December 21, 2002

What riffola said...

SHN is silly and a waste of time and resources. Some jamband freaks are so anal, it's amazing.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 7:31 PM on December 21, 2002

Well, I hear a whooshing sound on mp3's, but I guess I haven't tried a blind test of 256 bitrate mp3's against .shns. How hard is it to unpack some .shn files?

Actually, I find the whole idea of .shns and checksums pretty cool. Maybe that's it.
posted by mblandi at 10:08 PM on December 21, 2002

One of the problems is repeat encoding. As the shows get traded and burned, they might get de- and re-coded more than once. Since mp3 degrades the source every time, it is not an acceptable solution. Plus, I guess the idea is, why should we degrade soundquality when we can do it lossless? I'd rather wait a little longer for the download to finish and have a perfect digital clone of the DAT source.
posted by muckster at 10:50 PM on December 21, 2002

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