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ACL Live ready to stream shows online, bring Austin to the world

Gary Dinges
gdinges@statesman.com
Freddy Fletcher — nephew to Willie Nelson — is a partner in the ACL Live venue. As founder of Stageside Productions, he's leading the way in the plan to show Austin concerts via live streaming on Facebook. 'We're planning a big online presence,' he said.

Next week's Widespread Panic concerts are just the first of many ACL Live performances that will be viewable around the globe for a price via live streaming on Facebook.

Stageside Productions, the new downtown venue's production company, is in talks with a number of other performers, and hopes to announce additional acts soon — including a possible series of shows featuring Willie Nelson and a collection of guest performers leading up to New Year's Eve.

"This is our pilot," said Freddy Fletcher , a partner in the ACL Live venue and founder of Stageside Productions. "We're planning a big online presence."

Fletcher said the studio was built with live streaming in mind, and several performances held earlier this year were used to test the technology and make sure it works.

He admits, however, that the venue isn't sure how many folks will take advantage of it.

"We have no idea," Fletcher said. "That's the exciting part. There's really no way to gauge interest in advance of the first show."

For the inaugural concert with Widespread Panic, fans who pay $5 will be able to watch one of the band's shows, on June 14 or 15. Access to both shows is available for $10.

Facebook credits can also be used to see the concerts.

The 7 p.m. performances will be broadcast live in high definition, and a pre-show question-and-answer session with singer/guitarist John Bell is set for June 15.

They'll also be archived and available for unlimited viewing through midnight on June 19.

"We're going to be among the first people to stream a live concert on Facebook," Fletcher said. "It's kind of scary."

Fletcher and his team are relying on technology from San Marcos-based Kulabyte, a company that has, in the past, offered live concerts on MySpace.

Its clients also include many major broadcast networks.

"We've had concerts where we've had viewers well into the millions," said Tony Nagy, the company's director of live event services.

One of the most-viewed events was the 2009 memorial service for singer Michael Jackson.

Nagy says a Disney-sponsored concert featuring Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers had a significant audience, as well.

"We are rapidly growing," Nagy said. "This is probably one of the hottest niches in the business."

gdinges@statesman.com; 912-5987