When it comes to streaming online media, consumers generally have two choices: They can watch for free and deal with frequent commercial interruptions, or pay for an ad-free experience. While this premium direct-to-consumer model is commonplace for television and movie streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, the live-events market has yet to catch up.
Musician and actor Jared Leto wanted to change traditional ad-supported steaming for live events. The 30 Seconds to Mars frontman recently launched a beta version of VyRT, a web streaming service designed to provide the "best online concert experience" for viewers and a great live webcasting experience for artists. The idea for VyRT came from the frustrating experiences Leto and his band faced in streaming their own live events in the past.
"Our experience with live streaming anything has been pretty horrible," Leto said in a video interview for AOL's "Acting Disruptive" series. "We had to put up with advertising and sponsorship that wasn't really in line with who we are, so we decided to start our own company." [Read related article: 5 Ways to Monetize Online Video Content]
With VyRT, artists, comedians and businesses that put on live events can create a profile and organize their event on the website. They then set a date and "ticket" price and charge viewers to stream the live video feed. In addition to enjoying premium HD content, fans who watch their favorite artists on VyRT can participate in a real-time chats with other viewers and the performers themselves, as well as purchase merchandise directly on the viewing page.
The company's proprietary social networking community has become part of the unique draw for VyRT users. Leto told AOL host Max Lugavere that the VyRT team has learned a lot through testing these interaction tools, and despite some initial setbacks, they've been working out the bugs to give users the best experience possible.
"I think that people understand we're trying to do something special," Leto said. "We're breaking [the traditional model], and of course, when you do that, things aren't perfect."
Leto didn't indicate exactly when the full version of VyRT would be launched, but he is looking forward to helping other artists like himself produce and broadcast high-quality live-streamed events.
"It's fun to share this with people," he said. "Pretty soon, we'll start sharing this with other artists, and I can't wait to see what happens."
Get a sneak peek of a recent 30 Seconds to Mars VyRT event and learn more about how Leto's streaming service works in this "Acting Disruptive" video clip.