WASHINGTON – Kathy Valentine and her bandmates in The BlueBonnets are inviting you to her basement Sunday night.
The former bass player with The Go-Go’s, and her Austin, Texas-based band are preparing for their first performance using Stageit — an online concert venue, in which bands play live and interact with viewers watching on their computers.
“Like a lot of young bands, we don’t have the resources to go on the road,” says Valentine. “Not only financially, but we’re all adults with fully-realized lives, and we were wondering how we could connect with fans in other places.”
A band using the Stageit platform determines the feel of the show.
Some performers merely use the built-in camera of a laptop to stream their performance. Others assemble concert technology and technicians to produce a show similar to in a traditional live music venue.
“For this first time, we decided to work out the bugs in the most controlled environment, in our rehearsal room,” says Valentine. “We’ll do some songs and take some questions.”
“We’ll dress up a little, and put on makeup, so it’s not just watching a grubby band rehearsing,” jokes Valentine.
Valentine says the band will put up two ambient microphones in her basement studio to capture the performance. They did a sound check earlier this week to see how their performance would sound to someone watching on a computer.
“It was trial and error, really old school,” says Valentine. “We were like ‘How does it sound if we put this mic here and this mic there? What about if we played a smaller amp and just cranked it?'”
In the Stageit platform, bands determines how much to charge for the experience.
Valentine said The BlueBonnets decided on pay-what-you-want pricing for the show, since this is their first time using the platform.
In earlier days, bands would purposely distance themselves from fans, to enhance the rock star image – but now, Valentine says performing online is just the latest digital tool for a modern musician.
“It’s part of bands taking their careers into their own hands. That’s the reason the walls are coming down, and social media has become such an important part of any bands networking,” Valentine says.
“It’s not like everyone thinks they’re going to go out and get a record deal,” says Valentine. “It used to be that was the big goal — I don’t think bands have that kind of naivety anymore.”
“They know they’re responsible for doing everything they can to get their music out to people.”
Fans watching the Stageit show will be able to type their reactions during the show.
The lack of immediate reaction from a concert audience will be a new experience for Valentine, who was recently forced out of The Go-Go’s after 30 years with the band. She is suing her former bandmates for lost revenue and breach of contract.
“I don’t know what it’s going to feel like. We have to just remember there are people watching in that moment. It’s not being recorded. It’s going to be interesting,” Valentine says.
Valentine is enthusiastic about The BlueBonnets’ opportunity to reach an unlimited audience with relatively little expense.
“It’s a lot cheaper than renting a van and slogging it out on the road,” she said.