Most bands perform in dark cave-like venues filled with cigarette smoke and graffitied bathrooms. BalconyTV, a global music web series that is produced in six continents, films musical performances on actual balconies and rooftops, with picturesque views of a particular city behind the band.
The site’s videos have been viewed more than 30 million times. From Tel Aviv to Austin, BalconyTV is filmed in 43 cities that follow the same outline: a musician or band performs one song in a single take on a balcony.
The concept of BalconyTV was born in 2006 on a rare sunny day in Dublin, Ireland. Co-founder Stephen O’ Regan was admiring the view from his apartment, wondering how he could use his balcony more often. O’ Regan decided he would start holding stripped down, acoustic concerts on his balcony, and he would film them.
“A television station on a balcony seemed like an over the top idea,” O’ Regan said. “But after we invited a couple of bands to perform, we started getting contacted by lots of bands that wanted to play on our balcony as well. So it became a music website all by itself.”
The website has increased in popularity every year since then, as well as attracting people who want to get involved and start their own channels in their hometowns.
“The site has evolved quite organically,” O’ Regan said. “The more videos we make and the more cities we launch, the more people that want to launch channels in new cities. It demonstrates what a powerful tool the web can be.”
Producers Joe Lynch and Barbara Rappaport run Austin’s BalconyTV channel. The BalconyTV Austin channel showcases local musicians as well as popular touring artists, with an emphasis on promoting Austin artists to wider audiences on an international scale.
“As Austin claims to be the live music capital of the world, BalconyTV Austin showcases the bands and talent of the city,” Lynch said. “It gives prospective visitors a chance to preview the music that they can see live.”
Rappaport said that one of the greatest benefits for musicians from a performance on BalconyTV is the free, global exposure a band can receive after its video is posted online.
“Almost every band is seeking that big break,” Rappaport said. “The only way to really get that break is exposure or to be discovered. This is a free, international music platform, so the question should be, why wouldn’t a band want to perform on BalconyTV?”
Artists have benefitted from the site by gaining more social media followers, seeing increased record sales and obtaining opening slots on tours.
“We have had bands get invited to support major artists on tours and be offered gigs thanks to the exposure they receive on the website,” Lynch said. “The direct benefit is that they all get what may be their first live video recordings to share on social media to engage more fans.”
One band that has gained a broader fan base after being featured on BalconyTV is San Marcos-based folk-rock group Those Nights.
“We’ve found new Facebook and YouTube fans from other countries since the performance was posted, and it’s only increased further since they named our video an Editor’s Pick,” singer Evan Styles said.
Styles feels fortunate that the Austin channel is willing to provide free film recording services for musicians. Otherwise it would be extremely expensive for emerging independent artists to afford the costs of making music videos.
“All it takes is one good spark to ignite a musician’s career,” Styles said. “BalconyTV is creating several of these sparks.”