Is the Future of the Music Biz?

Philly-area buddies created a live music library. Can they save rock n' roll?

A quick look at suggests it might be a music-loving hippie’s dream come true. There are concert-length live performances from such jam-band perennials as The String Cheese Incident, Umphrey’s McGee, and Yonder Mountain String Band — all just a click (and a few bucks) away from being part of your music collection.

It might also be the future of the famously struggling music business.

At least, that’s what the Associated Press suggests in a new profile of the site, which got started in the 1990s as a way for two Philadelphia area buddies, Brad Serling and Jon Richter, to share their recordings of Grateful Dead concerts.

“A majority of the artists we work with have a family business around them,” Serling told the wire service. “If you’re not just a one-hit wonder, if you have a live concert following, then we are right for you.”

The site features more than 10,000 shows. Bruce Springsteen recently made a live recording available free through the site after he had to postpone a New York show; the recording was downloaded 100,000 times.

Rolling Stone reports Springsteen put 39 of his shows on during the course of a year, as a way of combatting poor-quality fan recordings available on the Internet. The downloads typically run about $10 apiece; physical CDs cost $23.

“They have some incredible stuff in the archives,” Serling told RS.

The belief? Even more bands will follow.

“As the future unfolds,” one band manager said, “I think every touring act is going to have to do something along these lines.”