Williams phones it in as concert goes mobile

Live gig stream a triumph for German telco

BERLIN — Brit pop star Robbie Williams has become the first entertainer to have a gig streamed live to 100,000 mobile phone users across Europe and beamed to high-definition screens in 27 cinemas and clubs.

The Oct 10. concert in Berlin was a triumph for German-based telco giant T-Mobile.

“To everyone in the cinema and watching on your phones, this is the future, baby,” Williams said at the end of the tightly orchestrated 90-minute show that began precisely on time with a loudspeaker announcement “27 seconds until the live-stream feed” and subsequent countdown that sent a buzz through the crowd of 7,500.

Another 35,000 watching in cinemas between Amsterdam and Zagreb paid up to $30 to see the live “cine-cast.”

“There’s another musical revolution happening,” Williams said at a news conference before the concert. “I’m excited to be at the forefront of a new technology.”

Many mobile phone users checked out the live-stream on their postage-stamp size phone screens at the same time they watched Williams on stage, receiving astonishingly sharp and fluid real-time images as well as high quality audio through their earplugs.

Williams, who has shocked music industry bosses in the past by calling Internet piracy a “good idea,” recently entered an 18-month partnership with T-Mobile to explore new revenue streams.

A team of about 100 techs orchestrated the live-streaming to phones and cinemas, and T-Mobile reps were barely able to contain their glee when it went off without a hitch.

T-Mobile execs won’t say what they paid for the privilege of streaming the concert, or how much they expect to make from the downloads, insisting they are interested in being the vanguard of the movement to attract the trendy 14 to 29 age group.

“It was a lucky coincidence that Robbie Williams was looking for this at the same time we were looking for a major artist,” said Ulli Gritzuhn, chief marketing officer for T-Mobile Intl.

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