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Sunday, July 17, 2011
Charity show by Japanese artists streams live to the world
By MARK JARNES
Special to The Japan Times
Gigs held by popular artists regularly sell out in Japan, especially in the J-pop scene. This month however, there will be one concert where music fans won't have to worry about missing their favorite artists perform live, even after the tickets have all gone.
Starting tomorrow, entertainment powerhouse Hori Productions will be holding a two-day charity event called Song For You to raise money for the Japanese Red Cross Society. Popular TV performer Akiko Wada will take center stage, supported by an all-star Horipro cast. Among the star-studded lineup are AKB48 front-runner Tomomi Itano, flamboyant sopranista Tomotaka Okamoto and long-time media darling Ikue Sakakibara.
After initially selling out, a limited number of tickets were released for sale on July 7, and they have been going fast. The event will be held at The Galaxy Theatre in Tennozu Isle, and also streamed live, free of charge, to audiences around the world through the website Stickam.jp and its U.S. counterpart, Stickam.com. "The thing about live streaming," says Katsuya Kono of Horipro, "is that it's a one-time experience. It creates a connection between audiences who are in completely different places."
Streaming media in realtime has been taking a noticeably more predominant role in the music world in recent years, with promoters from across the globe broadcasting their tunes to steadily growing audiences. "The net has spread out all over the world," says Kono. "And the market is big." Indeed, although Horipro have live-streamed events in the past, this will be the first time that a concert of this caliber will broadcast over the Internet. With a growing international fan base for Japanese music, combined with easily accessible live content, it's likely that many more such events will follow.
Live content is undoubtedly becoming more accessible, with an increasing number of options available to Web surfers. Media giants Ustream and Nico Nico Douga may be dominating the realtime broadcast market, but Stickam's stock is rising fast. "This is the first time we have broadcast one of Horipro's concerts," says Kent Gilbert of Stickam. With a growing number of sites to choose from, one wonders what differentiates the various players from one another. "More than anything," explains Gilbert, "We are a community site. We don't produce anything — or have those potentially abunai (risky) comments that you see scrolling on Nico Nico Douga's content — and wish to leave the broadcasting to the users."
Another marked difference between Stickam and rival platforms is that Stickam strongly encourages users to stream content, as opposed to other sites, where the main attraction is joining a massive Internet audience tuned in to a single channel. "Instead of one user streaming to 10,000 viewers, we would prefer to have 100 streamers broadcasting to 100 viewers each," says Gilbert. "We also give users more control of their 'rooms,' giving them the option of closing their stream to specific users, creating a more personal element."
Horipro's musical showcase, however, will be less intimate — and is being done for a good cause. "After the events that occurred on March 11, we thought about what we could do to show our support for the people who have been affected," says Kono. "Music has the power to make a change, as well as make people happy." Certainly something to keep in mind, whether you make it to the theater to catch the show in person, or watch it from the comfort of your laptop at home.
Horipro's Song For You charity event will broadcast July 18, 5:30 p.m to 7:30 p.m. and July 19, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on www.stickam.jp/songforyou