Soundhalo is a new Android app that means you'll never have to hold up your phone and record grubby bootleg footage again -- or go to a gig for that matter.
The app, which is currently in beta but readily available on the Google Play store, launched last night at a gig by Mercury Prize-winning acoustic jazz-dubsteppers alt-J.
The pitch is simple, the tech and context much less so. In theory, as soon as a band have finished playing a song it's available to buy on the Soundhalo app, with professional video and audio straight from the mixing deck.
The quality of the videos from the alt-J gig is really classy, and if you're a huge fan of the band they're probably worth the £1 each Soundhalo is charging. The whole 16-track set is £6, and the files are DRM-free M4V/MP4s that you can download on your computer as well as your phone. That's not bad if you're a completist, or couldn't get hold of tickets -- you needn't have been to the gig to buy them, obviously. It might just be an introductory offer, however, as the company won't say whether that'll be the set price for every gig.
Naturally it has all the social gubbins everyone seems to build in nowadays, so you can share tracks with Soundhalo-using friends and boast on Twitter about how you can be seen in the crowd, boxed off your minky on wobbly eggs.
It's not without problems. Firstly, you have to log in with Facebook to use it, which opens the 'what am I really sharing here?' can of worms, and butts you up against Facebook's unreliable authentication system (I needed three texts from the thing to make it work).
To be fair, it didn't put anything on my profile, but it did email my associated email address telling me I'd registered "to be a part of the evolution of live music", which struck me as presumptious. I'd expect an email if I'd registered with an email address, but I've only logged in with Facebook.
Secondly, and more importantly for the future of the service, it has to sign up each band individually, and have an engineer produce all the files.
"The Soundhalo production team take video and audio feeds directly from the venue," the startup explains, "and utilising the fastest broadcast connectivity, delivers those files to the Soundhalo studio where mixing, mastering and grading take place by the expert ears and eyes of world class mastering engineers."
That doesn't sound like it will 'scale', in industry parlance -- there are a huge number of gigs around the world every day, and the chance of your gig being on this app would seem to be slim, at least at first. If it were sufficiently successful to attract the backing of a major label, that might change.
Nevertheless, it's pretty cool that it's even possible to buy live footage so quickly, and if you're a fan of live albums it could be a major winner. "I think the future of music and technology as an artist," enthuses alt-J's Gus Unger-Hamilton, "and looking at how artists and fans interact, is really exciting."
You can download the Android app here -- it's "coming soon to other devices". Would you buy live tracks on something like this? Is it better than waving your phone in the air like you just don't care (about the person behind you)? Dive headfirst into the comments moshpit, or crowdsurf over to our Facebook page.