Public radio stations have long been the vanguard of organic music discovery. Beck, Lorde, Spoon, and Vampire Weekend are just a few who got their starts on public radio and have since gone on to have prolific careers.
Alongside YouTube’s meteoric rise, visual music content like music videos, live recordings, artist interviews, and even simple lyric videos have returned. After spinning the music no one else would, public radio stations too are now moving to adopt, produce, and distribute video content. In the interest of amplifying the exposure for artists and creating a pool of shared resources among stations, a new collective was born: VuHaus.
VuHaus is a non-profit, digital music video service that aims to introduce emerging and established artists to new audiences. It aggregates performance videos and interviews from leading public radio stations in markets across the U.S. These stations become affiliates that upload their content into VuHaus’ systems for curation and distribution across various publications (including VuHaus’ own website). VuHaus content appears in over 50 publications, including NPR, but their philosophy of supporting early-stage and promising artists sets the company apart.
“When you have a field [music discovery] that’s so heavily dominated by algorithm-based commercial entities, VuHaus really provides a very different perspective on supporting artist discovery and development,” said Erik Lagner, President of VuHaus. “VuHaus works on a hands-on level by taking risks on the developing careers of artists that don’t yet have commercial appeal but we think are amazing musicians.”
VuHaus’ content ranges from concerts and festivals to in-station interviews and performances since all members of the VuHaus collective share content.
“Stations have a long history of putting their content directly onto YouTube and getting tons of view there but recognized the limitations of putting the content into Google’s hands rather than using their own platform,” said Lagner. “VuHaus which is run by and for public radio does a much better job of curation, presentation and provisioning of joint resources.”
For instance, Kurt Vile, a beloved Pennsylvania native, performed a live webcast from KCRW in LA, and the program director for WXPN in Philly embedded the broadcast on the PA public radio site. By seamlessly sharing content across public radio sites, VuHaus demonstrates the value of pooling resources to augment artist recognition.
All well and good, but this is a blog about music in Boston – so what gives? One of VuHaus’ premier partners is Boston-based WGBH and the two work closely on one of the preeminent live performance recording services; Front Row Boston.
Front Row Boston captures live performance footage of established and emerging artists to provide a truly top-notch visual and aural recording. Much of their content is interspersed with in-depth artist interviews providing a clear picture of a band in the moment and with this partnership, VuHaus has widened the audience for Front Row’s high-quality content.
Greg Shea, the executive producer of Front Row Boston, determines which bands to record and with VuHaus he sees many opportunities opening up.
“We want to grow our presence to the point that we could start inviting the public in to view artists performances live inside the studio or station,” said Shea. “We are also looking at ways we can start live streaming Front Row recordings of live shows.”
While a fantastic idea, it requires proper implementation for success. For every live performance, Front Row brings a cadre of engineers with personal feeds to every instrument on stage. The audio mixing for the video content is then completed in the weeks following, allowing for an insanely high-quality mix.
“The best compliment about our series has always been when people say, ‘Hey, I watched that concert of XYZ and it felt like was there,’” said Shea. “There’s nothing as good as being there live but we attempt to provide the closest possible replication of the experience.”
In conjunctions with VuHaus’ mission to push music discovery, Shea shared that for many of the emergings artists that get the Front Row treatment, it’s the first major recording they’ve done in their career. Undoubtedly, an excellent way to start.
With VuHaus’ resources, Front Row hopes to provide more innovative content to its viewers, such as broadcasting Boston-based artists performing outside the state back in Boston.