Live Streaming at Libertarian Home

As you know. I have been filming Libertarian Home events since Rob Waller and I started doing speakers – before they were even called Libertarian Home events.

Getting the videos edited, summarised and online, however, has been a bottleneck and the bottleneck quickly has turned into a backlog and backlogs mean there is a project which now needs resourcing and doing. Fortunately I have found someone who can help at global prices, although I do need to train them. So the backlog is now in hand.

For all future events, I will live stream them instead. Live steams are lower quality but are available by default – goodbye backlog!

Libertarian Home events were always supposed to represent the amateur part of the amateur-elite spectrum. Keeping it too amateur requires subsidy, so the level has had to be raised. For example, we always do have a speaker and they are always fairly well known. There are no more socials and no more open mic nights. The Q&A is the last place amateurs can take part with no (or very little) curation by me. Anyone can turn up and ask a question.

For this to work the Q&A’s cannot become a public performance. If people’s questions become part of the public record then only super-confident know-it-alls will ask questions and they are often not the best people to do so. This is one problem.

The next problem is you guys don’t drink enough. To get a venue cheaply someone needs to spend £400, or else I lose the £50 deposit. In the past I have had to top up £200 of minimum spend in a venue where the policy was different. This is a bad way to use money.

There are two obvious solutions that I don’t think will work:

I could spend £400 for you, by laying on drinks, and just charge a ticket price. That might neatly force people to buy drinks, but it is at least as likely to create a wasteful pile of unopened beer and reduce attendance.

I could suffer the £50 repeatedly. This is a great way to get the venue to change their pricing policy. I am pretty sure the policy is there because they want to sell £400 of beer and food, not take £50 from unlucky event organisers. So this is an unsustainable win-lose strategy that may even be a lose-lose one if we get kicked out from the venue.

The problem is about to be exasperated by the desire to live stream. It is possible some people will choose to live stream and not come to the pub. Fewer people means less bar and food spending and ultimately higher venue costs.

Fortunately, people love Q&As. I have had emails from the US about getting access to Q&A footage. Emails accompanied by offers of money. Though few in number this might just be something that can be used to square the circle.

So this is the weird, topsy-turvy upside down solution I have come up with:

I am going to charge for the live stream, then trim the Q&A’s before letting the recording become public.

The price tag will be around £5 for Londoners. Live stream hardware and bandwidth is expensive so I hope many will simply pay this amount. I am offering the option to donate alongside the ticket purchase as well.

I think £5 is enough to make local people think twice about watching from home and will encourage them out for beer and dinner (we have a dinner club now too). I will use the promotional tools on Eventbrite to reach people outside London with lower prices,  and expand the reach of Libertarian Home events. It will also expand the impact of our events too, as frankly the conversation has generally stopped before videos are available. That will no longer be the case with live streaming, even if trimming causes a short delay.

Anyone paying to watch online will also be able to send in questions and remarks and take a decent role in the live event, essentially they are buying the right to have questions considered.

Anyone asking questions in the pub can be confident the video will be seen by only a few people in real-time. I project that there will be more people in the pub than online.

Attendees will not be immortalised in video before they are ready, locals will not watch from home for free, and the equipment has a decent shot of being paid for. And no more backlog!

This is a novel arrangement, it does not fully solve the problem of funding or of summaries.  I do think it will be better than before, which is a good reason to get it done.

Thursday will provide an opportunity to practice (if the kit arrives on time) and Andrew Bernstein on Feb 20th will be the first test case.


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