The Showbox is about to get wired. The Seattle music landmark's operators have signed on to participate in the Digital Club Network, the Web site (www.digitalclubnetwork.com) that streamed live feeds from New York City during last month's Digital Club Festival. The DCN is set to launch in September, with plans to Webcast from 12 clubs nationwide, including such New York-area venues as Brownies, the Knitting Factory, and Maxwell's; San Francisco's Great American Music Hall; Chicago's Metro; and the Showbox.
Showbox CEO Jeff Steichen says he's not sure if his venue will be part of the initial launch in September. Recent Showbox appearances by Everclear and the Flaming Lips were made available to the DCN, but the New York company couldn't come to Seattle in time to install its cameras, wiring, and microphones.
When it's up and running, the DCN will sign agreements with individual artists allowing the site to stream and then archive live performances. The company is working with small to mid-size venues, hoping that up-and-coming bands' shows will generate more interest as their audiences grow.
"There's definitely a hunger for live music on the Internet," says DCN vice president Bennett Kleinberg. The numbers for the recent Digital Club Fest aren't in yet, he adds, but users logged in from around the world to watch New York shows by bands such as Bush, Spain, and Guided By Voices.
Still, the lack of broadband presents a significant hurdle. Kleinberg says that users with Flash and Real software can "enjoy a pretty good show" even with a basic modem. But the DCN, like so many other high-tech companies, needs to offer something more spectacular than a pretty good show to attract a wide audience.