Arcade Fire, John Legend to stream concerts live on YouTube

NEW YORK — Within hours of most any concert, shaky and distorted footage of the show can be found online from the front row or the balcony.

But online concert video has been steadily building toward live streaming, digital quality video and accompanying social-media interaction. "Unstaged," a new online concert series being launched by American Express, and to stream on YouTube and Vevo, hopes to combine all of these elements.

Arcade Fire will kick off the series by live streaming the second of their much anticipated Aug. 4 and 5 concerts at Madison Square Garden. The concerts follow the Aug. 3 release of the band's third album, "The Suburbs."

"As soon as we booked it, it felt a little ominous," Jeremy Gara, the band's drummer, said of the MSG shows. "Playing there by itself is pretty exciting. Playing there twice seems pretty crazy, and then it's our CD release and now this live broadcasting. "Well, if we're going to do it, do it big," Gara says.

The concert will stream live Aug. 5 at 7 p.m. on the Google Inc.-owned YouTube and Vevo, the music video site owned by Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Abu Dhabi Media Co. It's the first in a planned series of five live-streamed concerts, with John Legend and the Roots to follow, and others to be announced later.

Courtney Kelso, vice president of sports and entertainment strategy at American Express, said the concerts won't be "a passive, flat experience."

"It is still a pretty nascent space," Kelso said of live concerts online. "They're kind of taking the television model to it — 'I'll just broadcast it, put it on the Web and someone will watch it.' We think the power of the digital medium is such that you can interact in special ways."

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