Classic rockers The Doors will soon be joining Pearl Jam, a more modern rock band, in using a digital content management and delivery network service from Savvis and Basecamp Productions. The Doors plan to make available for download previously unreleased songs and concerts recorded by the band from 1967 to 1970.
The Doors plan to announce on Monday that fans will be able to create "virtual box sets" of live and studio Doors performances by going directly to the band's Web site. Fans will be able to re-create their favorite Doors album using live tracks from concerts, or create a CD with several live versions of the same song from different concerts.
"You will be able to move around the content as you see fit, which is the future," says John Densmore, drummer for the legendary band, whose catalog already sells more than a million albums annually. "This is kind of a 'fix your own pizza' concept. There are some real jewels in these concerts that haven't been put out before, and this kind of effort will make the legacy [of The Doors] even better."
The Doors will be using the same content delivery technology that Pearl Jam has been using on its Web site since late last year. During the band's fall tour in 2005, Pearl Jam made each concert available for download immediately after a show ended. More than two million songs were downloaded from the 2005 tour, says Joshua James, owner and co-founder of Basecamp, an online distribution company that provides services for the buying and selling of live music immediately after a concert.
Pearl Jam decided in 2000 to release CDs of each live concert in an effort to stop illegal bootlegs of the concerts. At the time, Pearl Jam's record label didn't think releasing dozens of individual concert recordings was a good idea, but the band eventually sold 3 million CDs from the 2000 tour, James says.
"It became clear that for the right band, there was quite a market for these official bootlegs," James says. "We're now taking this directly to the artist Web site. There is no third party, no sending you off to iTunes. If you are The Doors, Pearl Jam, or U2, and you've got millions of visitors coming to your Web site, so why not deal with them directly? Why send them off somewhere else?"
"Anything that Pearl Jam does, I'm down with, because they have so much integrity," Densmore says. "Pearl Jam is always trying to find new things and explore new technology, and I like that."
The bands use the Basecamp software, which James described as a "white-label iTunes." Savvis, which is a provider of managed and outsourced IT services, provides the infrastructure to store, manage, distribute, and protect the content.
The Savvis services range from workflow tools for managing the creation and production process to digital distribution capabilities, says Tom Moran, senior director of media and entertainment for Savvis.
"If you look at what is happening with iTunes and other online music stores, they are frankly failing the music industry in terms of time-to-market," Moran says. "I can manufacture a CD and distribute it to retail faster than I can get a track up on the iTunes music store by a factor of about 2X, which is crazy. There is a huge demand for content that is timely, especially among hard-core fans that purchase concert downloads."
The Pearl Jam concert downloads are available for $9.99 each, which includes high-quality MP3 downloads of each song played, 15 to 20 photos from the show, set lists, and artwork that can be downloaded to create a CD.
Jeff Jampol, The Doors' manager, says concerts and other content should be available on their Web site within two months. Specific pricing will be announced later.
The Doors, which were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, include keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, drummer Densmore, and lead singer Jim Morrison, who died in 1971.
The living members of the band have performed together just twice since 1973. During their recording heyday, Densmore recalls thinking: "If we lasted 10 years that would be great. And now were getting ready to celebrate 40 years [in 2007]. Now our fans can make their own albums. Jim [Morrison] said that in the future there will be one guy with a machine making the music. Now our fans can be the record producer."
James says Basecamp is in "late stage" discussions about creating additional online music repositories with artists of similar stature and with as many fans as Pearl Jam and The Doors. "We're definitely finding a market for this, particularly for big artists at the top," he says. "If you've got 50,000 people buying live concerts, and an artist plays 50 shows, that's 2.5 million downloads. So you take a hard-core audience and create a volume product."