Dead Heads For Obama
Tonight a last-minute fund-raising concert for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama reunites three members of The Grateful Dead for the first time in four years. And it gives two online video companies a chance to appeal to a wider audience.
At San Francisco's Warfield Theatre at 7:30 tonight--that's 10:30 EST for all you Washingtonians--Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and Mickey Hart are performing to show their support for Obama. All proceeds from the concert will go directly to his campaign.
For the two companies streaming the video to Web audiences, it's an opportunity to broadcast a high-profile political event around the world. Swarmcast, based in Minneapolis, will use its infrastructure technology to deliver the live stream, while iClips.net, based in neighboring St. Paul, will broadcast the concert on it's site. If you aren't up late enough to catch the live version, you can replay the concert on the web site's archives.
The concert was just put together on Friday night, showing how quickly things can happen on online video, said Nate Parienti, co-founder and chief strategy officer of iClips.net. He told me tonight that iClips typically focuses on music-related events. The fact that the Grateful Dead is playing is quite appealing to the firm. Justin Chapweske, founder and CEO of Swarmcast, said the concert is an example of how online video is moving away from the quick clips you see on YouTube to live broadcasts that take much more bandwidth to produce.
Other video firms are getting in on the political action. Last week, Ustream.TV, which hosts a variety of user-generated video and live broadcasts, announced it has partnered with the Republican National Convention to broadcast the entire event in real time. Republican officials will be part of live web chats and other online interviews at the convention, which will take place Sept. 1-4 in St. Paul.
Other candidates have already used Ustream's platform to reach voters. Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, and John McCain have broadcast live speeches and held question-and-answer sessions on Ustream's video site, founder John Ham told me two weeks ago when I dropped by Ustream's Palo Alto offices.
We all know that the Internet has a huge role in this campaign, and I wonder how big the audiences will be for these events. The conventions get lots of traditional media coverage already, but an online platform makes a lot of sense for an impromptu benefit concert that will attract both Dead Heads and Obama fans.
You can tune into the concert at iClips.net.
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