Offering more than just free concerts, SyncLive is an online music community where members can chat about shows, browse through archived concerts, and maintain music profiles of their favorite bands. SyncLive also doubles as podium for unsigned musicians to record and showcase their talents. (The site actually encourages unsigned bands to record their own shows and broadcast them on the site for free.)
Unfortunately, the site's interface was our least favorite. It's cluttered with tabs and suffered from slow load times. Likewise, video quality was disappointing. Various shows we watched were filmed from a distance (think bootleg DVD quality) and looked grainy in both the embedded window and larger pop-up player. You can barely discern any faces in this The Ting Tings concert, for instance.
The site displays a lot of artist information including a bio, list of upcoming shows, and a list of that performer's archived shows on SyncLive. Members can also chat with one another while watching a concert together. Although most of the site's bands are unsigned, you'll also find shows from mainstream artists like B.B. King, The Ting Tings, and Public Enemy.
Nissan Live on Yahoo!
Although it features a modest library, top 40 fans can get their fix of live music from Nissan Live on Yahoo! Music. This joint collaboration between Yahoo! and Nissan features bi-monthly performances filmed at the Fox Studio in Los Angeles. Because Nissan is the sole sponsor, online advertising is noticeable although not overly intrusive.
The video player is embedded into your Web browser and gives viewers the option of viewing in full-screen mode. Videos start after a brief commercial and are not continuous, so on occasion you have to select the next song you want to stream. In addition to the videos, the site also includes concert photos and Q&A sessions with various bands. Unfortunately, you cannot fast forward or rewind videos. The site also lacks the community aspect of SyncLive. Archived artists include contemporary musicians such as Coldplay, John Legend, and Kelly Clarkson.
Of the sites we looked at, Wolfgang's Vault and FabChannel were our favorites. FabChannel in particular did an excellent job of recreating the concert experience, complete with video, audience cheers, and excellent footage.
The good news, however, is that there's no site we hated. While some sites had a better music catalog or better video quality than others, each site brought something different to the table, which is good news for music fans counting their dollars.
Louis Ramirez is dealnews' Features editor.