The Friday Interview: Stephen O’Regan, BalconyTV


18 Apr 2008

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BalconyTV.com, a daily internet music show broadcasting live music and variety from a tiny balcony high above Dublin’s Dame Street, has just been nominated for a Webby Award. Stephen O’Regan is one of its three founders.

The Webby Awards recognise the who’s who of the internet. How does it feel to be nominated?

Well, we received notice a month ago that we were shortlisted and only just got the news that we’ve been nominated for the viral video category. We feel it’s a really great achievement. We started off with a camera and the idea of putting cool new music online and it went from there. Bands are actually queuing up to get on Balcony TV.

We’ve also been nominated for the People’s Choice Webby Awards, which are separate to the main judged awards insofar as the public can vote at http://Pv.webbyawards.com.

How did Balcony TV come into being and how do you plan to export it?

My flatmates – Pauline Freeman and Tom Millett – and I got the idea one day about a year and a half ago. YouTube was coming to the fore and we thought it would be great to have a band perform on our balcony every day and put it out on the internet.

It became popular with indie bands and even a few mainstream acts and we’ve had artists like Paul Brady, Paddy Casey, Eleanor McEvoy and even Dustin the Turkey perform.

The idea caught on and by November we had one million video views and in about two weeks we’ll hit two million views.

How does the site hope to make money?

Since starting we’ve exported the model to Hamburg and the idea is to license it to other cities in Europe, the US and Australia.

We have no funding and don’t have any advertising – but this will happen in due course. The potential is huge, absolutely huge, but our issue right now is finding the right company to help us develop it.

We would very much like to see it take off virally in New York. Videos made on Balcony TV have already appeared on TV in Germany. The technology we use is straightforward – a simple camera capable of TV-quality films.

Is it true YouTube ordered you to remove videos from your site?

It was basically a mistake. Viacom sued YouTube and ordered the site to remove 150 million videos and unfortunately we somehow got caught up in it and were ordered by YouTube to take down 220 videos.

The fact is all of our videos are original and we own the copyright.

Luckily enough it got a lot of publicity at the time and we managed to get solicitors on side and got our back catalogue back. When it happened, it was very dramatic for us.

Paul McGuinness recently attacked internet service providers (ISPs) for allowing music piracy to occur on their networks. Do you think he has a point?

He made a very interesting speech in Cannes where he apportioned the blame to ISPs which charge €25 a month for broadband while knowing people are downloading illegal music.

It’s an interesting argument. The situation is very precarious right now and no one knows what’s going on, especially the music industry which needs to find new ways of making revenue as CD sales slide.

The idea we have is to generate advertising revenue for the site that we would split with artists who perform on our show.

By John Kennedy

66

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4

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26

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