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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 June 2008, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
British band in first Facebook gig
By Jim Reed
Newsbeat technology reporter

RedBoxBlue have joined a growing trend for webcasting live gigs

Unsigned band RedBoxBlue have played the first ever live gig on Facebook, performing a 25-minute set from a studio in south London.

It is the first time any band has played live on a social networking site in the UK.

Singer and guitarist Jon Haselden said: "It's a good opportunity to reach people all around the world.

"We just want to give people the chance to see us. It shows a band can play this kind of music online."

The group worked with Facebook and an independent computer programmer to design an application that broadcasts live video.

"If we did it on our own website we would have to worry about technical things like bandwidth and streaming," said Jon. "Facebook takes care of it for us."

The band are planning to perform live on the site every night until 8 June.

Year of the online gig?

Music fans have been downloading recorded tracks for years but live gigs have never really taken off on the web.

Faster broadband connections and a shift in the way music labels operate mean that this is starting to change.

The fans were ready for this ten years ago. Now the record labels are catching up
Justin Kniest, Fabchannel

Influential US technology magazine Wired called 2008 the year of the music webcast.

New online gig sites like Fabchannel, iClips and DeepRockDrive are starting to become more popular.

Fabchannel webcasts live shows from two dedicated studios in Amsterdam, with repeats held online for up to a year.

Artists like the Fratellis, Bloc Party, CSS and Kate Nash have all performed thanks to a deal with the major music label Universal.

The site's boss, Justin Kniest, told Newsbeat: "You will never be able to replicate the atmosphere of a live gig on a computer screen but that's not what we are after.

"There are plenty of people out there who aren't able to watch because the gig has sold out or the band isn't playing in their city.

Fratellis are one of the bands who have performed on Fabchannel

"The fans were ready for this ten years ago. Now the record labels are catching up."

Fabchannel has just opened a UK office and is planning to build a new studio in either London or Manchester.

Ready-made fanbase

Facebook and its main rivals MySpace and Bebo are also starting to experiment with live music.

All three have a big advantage over other websites, as bands can tap into a built-in fanbase for each gig.

MySpace has broadcast the US NME awards from New York and a Ben Folds gig from a studio in Nashville.

The site is planning its first live British shows later this year, according to head of music Dom Cook.

He said: "I think it's difficult to replicate a live gig on the internet. Unless you want to turn the lights off, put your earphones on and stand in the corner, it's going to be hard to get that experience. But there are ways you can twist the live show to make it feel more exciting.

Ideally we'll start to offer both highlights and live performances on the site
Hal Stokes, Bebo

"There is definitely potential in live music. You have a huge community of hardcore fans who want to find out every little thing the band is doing."

The UK's third most popular social network site, Bebo, has already run a handful of live events in the US and is also planning its first European shows.

Bebo's head of music Hal Stokes said: "It's something we're very focused on at the moment. Ideally we'll start to offer both highlights and live performances on the site.

"We know you can't beat the experience of a live gig but we'll start down that road and ultimately our users will decide what they want to watch."

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