More than 4,000 unique users from all over the world watched more than 102,000 minutes of 39 concerts webcast in the last academic year by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Glenn Korff School of Music (http://go.unl.edu/wqcu). In addition, 1,500 people watched more than 6,000 minutes per month of the archived videos posted on YouTube (http://go.unl.edu/agaz).
“It’s been a remarkably happy success,” said Glenn Korff School of Music Director John W. Richmond as he summed up the first full year of webcasting selected concerts.
The idea for webcasting began many years ago.
Richmond has been involved with the fine and performing arts group of Internet2 since before he came to UNL in 2003. Internet2 (http://www.internet2.edu) is a community of leaders in research, academia, industry and government who create and collaborate via innovative technologies.
When the Glenn Korff School of Music hired Jeff O’Brien as their information technology associate in 2012, he, along with David Bagby, the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts’ Information Technology Services Manager, began researching what other schools were doing.
The model O’Brien settled on was patterned after Indiana University’s model.
“Back in the 1980s when they started their push for the Recording School, they contacted their local PBS station and said, ‘We have this Recording School. Why don’t we use our students to record our concerts and you push them live on the radio, and that built into television and then live streaming,” O’Brien said. “That connection spoke to me because if I were a student, at this point, I would want to come to this school and be a part of this endeavor because it’s where the future of broadcasting is going. Everything is live streaming.”
The live webcasting of concerts at UNL, done in partnership with Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET), helps expand the reach of the Glenn Korff School of Music.
“The treasured partner in all of this has been NET,” Richmond said. “Most of their webcasts have been things like the Nebraska Legislature or the Nebraska Supreme Court or things like that. It’s not too surprising that when they look at the audience, they know the numbers are going to be pretty small and that the tuning in will be brief—in fact, they measure this in seconds. But the average stay on many of our webcast events is more than 30 minutes, which is simply unheard of in their webcasting experience, so it’s remarkable in that way.”
When the School received the Korff Endowment in 2013, they were able to move forward more quickly with their plans for webcasting.
“The start up costs are rather formidable,” Richmond said. “Then along came the Glenn Korff Endowment, and the program component provided a resource. Here was an opportunity to do something that we knew was going to be really helpful for everybody, so we used some of the endowment earnings to make this happen.”
Three cameras were installed in Kimball Recital Hall and two cameras were installed in Westbrook Recital Hall Rm. 119. Eventually, Richmond would like to have a total of seven cameras in Kimball.
Webcasting is helping to grow the audience for Glenn Korff School of Music concerts.
“If we hoped to have 300 folks attend an ensemble concert we might produce in the Kimball Hall, that’s good,” Richmond said. “But then you see another 200 people tune in via a live webcast, both locally and from far away. Suddenly you realize you’re really expanding your audience. That’s pretty great.”
Webcasting also helps current students whose family does not live nearby see them perform.
“The stories I love are the ones where students say my parents watched me do a performance, and they’ve never been able to see me play before,” O’Brien said.
Professor and Director of Choral Activities Peter Eklund said his experience with webcasting last year has been nothing but positive.
“I’d like to think that it has not adversely affected our audience for live concerts,” he said. “We have received many, many positive remarks from around the country and the globe. It has increased our presence, and the attention our ensembles are receiving with the YouTube archiving is helpful.”
Brian Reetz, the promotion and publicity coordinator for the Glenn Korff School of Music, said webcasting helps fit Glenn Korff School of Music concerts into people’s busy lives.
“We make this available through webcasts, and people are able to find time to watch it,” he said. “The number for engagement is pretty good. The first semester went from curiosity to now it’s become more of ‘I’m going to watch.’”
The average time each individual person watched a concert during the Fall semester was 27 minutes. By Spring, the average had increased to 37 minutes.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way this has pushed forward and the way it’s continuing,” O’Brien said.
Reetz said they intend to build on the success of last year’s webcasting.
“Now we can see that we’ve reached nearly every country in the world,” he said. “Suddenly, we’ve become global.”