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TheStreet Open House

Will Taylor Swift Follow in Bruce Springsteen's Footsteps?

It's another natural progression from Swift's relatively tasteful commercialization of her brand (she "sells" Diet Coke, Keds and perfume, not to mention loads of expensive merchandise at her shows) to a somewhat more subtle, fan-centric way of making money. Because, after all, making money isn't all about Swift; she has to produce for her label as well as the hundreds of people who work on every aspect of her tour.

But, in the end, the tour will probably make more money than it does now. On the recently completed North American leg, The Red Tour grossed more than $115 million, that's approximately $1.7 million per performance. That's not going to change. And, while it might clash with a more stripped-down set, Swift could continue to commercialize the night (as much as I would hope she doesn't).

However, in addition, she could not only embrace, but put live streaming of concerts on the map. We're talking about a multi-billion dollar industry most of the big names in the music industrial complex -- particularly the major labels -- continue to ignore. Instead they have allowed bootleggers and reputable startups such as LoveLive, iRocke and Concert Window to grind it out as they take ownership of the space.

Swift could serve as the model for taking what is already a top-grossing tour and, quite possibly, doubling or tripling the money it makes.

Crack down on the bootleggers (yes, I am talking about people like YouTube phenomenon "The Real Concert King"). Cut a deal with one of these startups or seek a partnership with Pandora and/or Google (GOOG) to not only live stream the next tour, but make each show available on-demand. Forever.

I explain how that might look in the above-linked article, but there's no question some diehard fans would pay a monthly fee or a few bucks a night to watch every single Taylor Swift performance they can't attend. As somebody who has been to 15 or so Springsteen shows, I would pay simply to relive the memories in HD.

You can package this approach and make a legitimate killing off of it in any number of ways.

At this point, fans, myself included, are stealing bootlegged concerts constantly. It's happening right now. And Google, for its part, is doing very little about it, at least if you gauge the company's efforts on the basis of currently available concert bootlegs at YouTube.

Here's where the artist needs to step in and incite change. Plus, opening up live streaming as a revenue generator takes the focus off of a royalty battle that's not going anywhere and likely won't for quite some time.

This isn't only about an obvious way forward for the sustainability and vitality of Taylor Swift's career, it's about a star of her caliber taking matters into her own hands as the music industry fails to fully leverage the power of technology.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a columnist and TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as CNN and CNBC as well as TheStreet TV. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.
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