A few days ago I stumbled across this great article via Slashdot about a musician named Sandi Thom, who in lieu of physically touring to support her new album, uses an online service called Streaming Tank instead to host a nightly concert. Initially I had visons of some online cable access show that had all of 3 viewers (think Wayne’s World), but upon reading the article I was surprised at how many people were tuning in to hear her play.

“Audiences have grown strongly since just 70 people logged on to her website to watch her first (free) concert on February 24. Last Thursday night, the figure was 62,138.”

Now, I myself am a singer and musician trying to promote my own music and I have traditionally stuck to playing live shows that are just a short drive away. This limits my exposure to the community – but I don’t currently have the means to do much beyond that. Sandi’s use of existing web technology seems to say that you actually don’t NEED much to get beyond the confines of your automotive radius.

I know that there are already many online marketing tools that are customized towards promoting musicians and bands. Sites like MySpace allow bands to upload and maintain their music online, and provide access to a small set of tools to push content out or build awareness of an upcoming ‘live’ show. I have used some of these sites and tools to limited success. Some more tech savvy musicians are creating podcasts of their shows and uploading to their websites for mass consumption.

The list of services goes on and on – but they are all mostly about sending out a processed and edited piece of content to a group of people.

What Sandi is doing is giving a global audience as close to the live experience of her actual shows as possible. She is creating an audible concert blog of her music and performances that everyone can enjoy with a cold frosty beer in front of their machines the same day or maybe even same hour she performs it.

This is a great idea for emerging artists to promote themselves. Now – what happens if we take this idea one step further?

Todd sent me an interesting link earlier via TechnCrunch about a new service called eJamming which allows musicians in many different parts of the country or world to play or jam together via their MIDI enabled instruments. I have heard of people using Skype to do the same thing – everyone gets on a ‘conference call’ and plays their music together. The problem with using such services is the delay or latency issues that crop up. According to the eJamming website, they solve this with patented algorithms that “delay the sounding of your instrument until you receive music data from your fellow eJammers.” They also make you use MIDI to get around this issue (doesn’t look like they support vocals or any non-MIDI instrument).

Now there are some technical issues such as sound latency and how best to capture the audio portion of your specific instrument or vocals, but hardware and software issues aside – could we REALLY put the band back together virtually?

The mashup of the technologies behind both of these ideas really has me going though. After a few weeks of virtual jam sessions with old friends and former band mates, it would be great if we could play a virtual live show like Sandi. We could all still be in our respective locations – but suddenly we’ve got the band back together – albeit online and playing for a much larger audience.

For now, the technical constraints seem to doom us to the occasionally impromptu gig – which is probably good given how bad our chops have become – but with a little practice and a little development from the powers that be – YOU my fine reader might be logging in to see US play instead of watching American Idol.