Moshcam's taking its web-and-smart-tv concert sets onto tablets and smartphones, releasing an iOS app today. I've had an early hands on and time to chat to Moshcam representatives about their plans for the app. There's nothing quite like being at an actual gig; not only the act on stage, but the atmosphere of the right concert venue, time with friends and that slight buzzing noise in your ears the morning after. Although that last one might just be me.
But not everyone can make it to a gig, whether that's for reasons of cost, transport or other commitments. That's where Moshcam shines; bringing gigs online for ad-supported viewing at your leisure. Moshcam's due to launch its iOS app today, and gave me early access to check out what's on offer.
The iOS Moshcam app is itself universal, but the experience is considerably better on an iPad for browsing, simply because the greater real estate gives you more space to scroll around. Gig selection is decent, depending naturally on your musical tastes.
In any case, the free app comes with one nice bonus; the first five concerts you pick are entirely free, and, unlike viewing Moshcam through a PC, they're also ad-free. After that, you can expect to pay (according to the release) "around the price of a single audio track download" for each concert.
I chatted to Moshcam's Paul Hannigan about the development of the application, something they've been considering since 2010 and developing since August last year. Hannigan's view is that the Moshcam iOS offering is unique in the tablet space,
"It's live concert streaming as opposed to download. Long form video in this way has challenges, especially when we want to give the user the chance to jump from track to track as distinct to the on-the-couch IPTV experience."
The way Moshcam's managed this is quite interesting; each concert is filmed at full HD resolution, and if your bandwidth supports it, that's what you'll get from the Moshcam app. Lower resolutions are fed through depending on what the app detects as your streaming speed; at the very bottom end it'll simply deliver an audio-only track.
"That was an Apple requirement", Hannigan told me. "The video of each concert is sliced it up into 9 second chunks; for every file we've created eight different bit rates. Each of those bit rates then then gets chunked into nine second segments. The app adjusts variably depending on the user's bandwidth availability; if you've got enough bandwidth you can watch in 1080P. The next revision will also offer the ability to only listen to the audio; at the moment that should only happen if your bandwidth drops out."
Moshcam's list of artists is pretty impressive, and at least at launch any "headline" act should be available through the application. "In terms of initial launch it's the way of checking what the fan base wants; every single headline act that we've filmed is available, and we've kept in mind that this is an international app aimed at those who we see as our primary audience."
Moshcam's also got its eye on the Android market, with an Android application due "hot on the heels" of the iOS version, according to Hannigan, although that may come both as a pre-loaded app on certain devices — Moshcam are apparently "in talks" with manufacturers regarding this — and as a standalone app.
Hannigan admits that the fragmentation in Android device specifications makes it challenging, but told me that they're determined to develop the Android app; while currently Android devices can access Moshcam's web site due to it being Flash-based, the cessation of development of mobile flash means that Moshcam feels it has to act fast.