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Keef's calling, collect

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It's only rock 'n' roll, but the Rolling Stones think you will like it -- on your tablet or smartphone.

In addition to a traditional live pay-per-view special for the band's Dec. 15 concert at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., the Stones will also offer live streaming of the concert on PC, smartphones and tablets.

This first-of-its-kind worldwide digital offering to mobile devices is a Stones' streaming experiment that, if successful, could set a new industry precedent that brings a wave of live music to Net-connected portables.

"These guys have always been on cutting edge," says Perkins Miller, executive vice-president of digital media at World Wrestling Entertainment, which is producing the event with online video technology company NeuLion. "They are using the latest technology to deliver (and show) that they are still on top after 50 years," he says.

The Rolling Stones: One More Shot can be seen on Shaw pay per view Dec. 15, for $24.24, $30.29 HD.

As the band performs its limited number of 50th anniversary concerts, it continues to push the limits of the music business. Following in the footsteps of the Beatles, the Stones were among the first to have their own record label -- they folded that in 1992 when Virgin Records paid them $45 million.

They were also the first to have a major tour sponsor -- Jovan Musk Oil for the 1981 -- which netted the band $1 million and the practice grew into an industry standard for other acts. Subsequent Stones tour sponsors have included Budweiser, which sponsored the 1994 Voodoo Lounge tour, and Sprint on the Bridges to Babylon tour.

The Stones even had their own credit card and the band has had exclusive deals with Best Buy for distributing concert DVDs.

Once the anniversary concerts were set and a traditional pay per view event was arranged, the attention turned to digital. Yahoo came on board as the web partner to deliver the concert to computers.

The WWE, which conducts monthly pay per view events, conducted its first mobile pay per view with the Nov. 18 Survivor Series event. That led to a suggestion to the Stones and their management about "the opportunity and the trend, particularly on tablets and the speeds on mobile devices and smartphones," Perkins says. "The Stones have been very focused on making sure it's a high-quality experience and Mick (Jagger) wants to make sure the global price is appropriate. I think this will be a real transition point."

The Rolling Stones Dec. 15 concert will be available on pay-per-view on iPads, Android tablets and smartphones. Viewers will also be able to watch Twitter streams. (Photo: NeuLion)

Fans can access the One Last Shot concert digital pay per view directly from rollingstones.com/watch and music.yahoo.com or download apps in the Android marketplace and iTunes store. They can purchase the event on an iPad, Android tablet or smartphone.

During the concert, portable device viewers can hit instant replay and go live at any point. (Traditional pay TV pay per view is linear only.) Tweets will be part of the presentation, too.

"Fans have gravitated to interactive sports on digital. There's the same opportunity for live concerts," says Chris Wagner, executive vice-president of NeuLion, which designs and delivers digital content for numerous clients including the National Football League, NBA, NHL and UFC.

"We have focused on the sports market," Wagner says. "Now we are leveraging that experience with this live event."

Video quality will vary across devices, based on the bandwidth that users have. On iPads, viewers will get high definition video and better than CD quality audio.

"The quality is critical," Wagner says. "It's really a great audio experience and I think that is maybe what people are going to get surprised about. Whoever thought Mick Jagger would be on an iPad?"

-- USA Today

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 15, 2012 G9

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