D.K. Pattammal

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

On Webcasting

By Rithvik Raja

In today’s world, virtually any programme can be viewed on the internet for free. A concert in some remote area of Kerala is made accessible to the entire world with the help of a video camera, laptop and a data card through ‘webcast’.

Webcasting originally started in Carnatic music concerts, and today conferences of corporate companies are being webcast. It has grown so much in magnitude and importance that if you type “webcast” on Google search I am sure most of the events are from India. Webcasting, however, has its pros and cons.

People around the world, who crave to see the visual and performing arts, get access and an opportunity to listen to or watch their favorite artists while sitting in their living rooms, miles away from the event. Some programmes are webcast free; some for a small fee which is easily payable through online transfers or PayPal. There are many artists who webcast their concerts on their websites for their fans across the world.

The quality of webcasts is a factor in its favour. The clarity of the relay, both audio and video, adds a lifelike dimension. It sometimes provides a better view of the artistes and their interactions on stage, and gives them a feeling of watching the performance live.

For office goers, it is convenient as they can catch a glimpse of the performance as and when they want to. A ‘homemaker’ too can relax and enjoy the performance, even as she is attending to her chores. It adds an extra dimension to many people’s lives as they get the best of both worlds.

However, it is a fact that nothing can replace the ‘live experience’ or the joy of being ‘in the moment’ with the artiste at a concert. The rapport and ‘connect’ can be established only by being there.

Though rasika-s across the globe benefit through webcasts, what about the rasika-s, who are in the same city where the actual concert is taking place? What will happen if they decide to sit at home and catch the concert in comfort on their home computers? We must remember that the performing artist ultimately sings for the audience in front of him and not for the ‘millions’ who may watch it online. The artist is motivated by and draws his energy from the people in front of him and their response to his art. This will be lacking in a webcast concert. If there is a way by which specific areas can be blocked access to the concert, then webcast is welcome.

Also, I feel that the attention span of the listener is more concentrated and focused when he or she is present at the venue. The intensity of the performance, the atmosphere created by the artist and the overall feel, is something that people come to soak in. Besides the fact that you are in a different ambience, you can be distracted by several things while viewing the concert on the computer.

An important question is – Should all performances be made available on the public domain? One of the main reasons why we get ten times more crowd at concerts held in December as compared to the rest of the year, is because it is the time when almost all the artists strive to give of their best. Rasika-s travel from different corners of the globe to experience what they have missed during the year. Would these people be willing to put their life on hold and travel all the way if the same music, dance and drama were made available to them all round the year? Isn’t not getting to listen to enough live concerts one of the main reasons why audiences flock to the December Festival? These are questions that can be answered only with time.


  1. True. No words are adequate to explain the emotions one experiences during a live programme. It's also a great occasion to reconnect with familiar faces and strengthen the invisible friendship.

  2. Physical presence is not possible all the time.
    The immediacy of any art event can not be duplicated by watching a recording later.
    Friends and relatives in the US can watch a webcast of an arangetram or a performance and experience the moment.
    Art exists in places and times apart from the Chennai season. Rasikas who travel for the season are also TN origin only.
    Webcast may help in popularising art at least with people from families which appreciate art from across the world.
    ekutcheri is doing a great service.