Thursday, July 15, 1999

** Jammin' early with the DMF **

It was bright and early on Thursday, July 15th when I stopped over the Digital Club Network's ( offices on 15th Street. The building is a buzz as this is also where MOUSE is headquartered and the DCN's conference room has been transformed (thanks to ClickHear) into the Digital Club Festival's ( headquarters. Ted Werth (COO) mused about its transformation and how it's kind of neat to see such a nucleus of activity occurring in there. Just as Christopher Levy and Michael "Wally" Wallace were greeting me and about to show me the nerve-center, Andrew Raisej (CEO & President) approached us on his way out. Looking cool in his ecru-colored suit, he told me about some exciting conversations with top people from a different sector. I swore myself to secrecy, but you can be assured that when I can share the news, I will! : )

Christopher then quickly shuttled me into the conference-room-turned-Festival-headquarters. Rows of computers lined up and tagged were humming happily -- and being cooled off with fans -- while others were laid bare on a table for augmentation of audio and video cards by a nice man in a green suit. Well, actually he was just in a green t-shirt, and there were no real surgical instruments lying around.

Christopher, Wally and the rest of the talented crew at DCN and Clickhear, including devoted volunteers like Ryan Morris (a graphics wiz at the AP by day) are putting an impressive system in place for the Festival, which runs from July 20th - 23rd. Over 300 bands with major headliners like Public Enemy, Everlast and Live, will be playing over 4 nights in twenty-two clubs in New York and one club in San Francisco and one in Los Angeles. After installing T1 lines in all the clubs (only about 5 - 8 will keep them), there will be Linux encoders stationed at each, encoding the performances using SureStream G2 technology from Real Networks. Once captured, the streams will go from the clubs to Globix's network using a distributed architecture, to Real Broadcast's Network (RBN) center then out to their distribution network points nationwide to the users! This is all very good, and especially since ClickHear has the capabilities to serve several thousand streams at once.

And just how did they get more than 300 bands to play? Matt Houser, booking agent at DCN told me that with the festival's history and Andrew Rasiej and Chairman of DCN's Michael Dorf's cache, the solicitation process was made easier. With over 600 submissions, they placed 60 bands in addition to the submissions from agents and managers. In some instances they decided they'll have to book bands with places and "just wait and see what happens," like at the closing night party with unknown band "American Revelation" playing.

Users logging onto the website will be able to see audio and video streaming shows and video capture slideshows using the technology from EarthCam and Real Pix, which inserts the stills into the video stream. They will be able to link to more band info, merchandise and schedules. After this overview, I went across the hall to Bennett Klineberg's office (VP, Marketing) and got the "big picture" story behind DCN's plans after the festival. In the content accumulation mode, DCN will be offering free video and audio casts of bands' performances from a variety of clubs. Down the road, you will be charged to view the performance, and a royalty will go to the band and club where the performance took place.

This year's festival is looking like and ramping up to be smashing indeed. Having seen the festival grow from a small operation in 1995 to bigger ones in '96 and '97 to its own entity as opposed to sponsor-titled is exciting. Much credit goes to Apple for its ground-breaking support in '95 when it was the Macintosh Music Festival, and to Intel for its subsequent support. There are many other supporters and sponsors who all also deserve credit. So go and get a badge and check out all this ground-breaking (ear-drum shattering) stuff! Special $5 discounts are available for WWWAC and NYNMA members too!