Would you pay $10 to watch a Linkin Park soundcheck on your iPhone? How about $25 to watch Kobe Bryant and Nas play one-on-one and exchange raps for charity? The social media app Pheed is betting yes, and musicians are excited about the prospects.
"The fact that I have the option to live broadcast my creative process, or even broadcast a basketball game with my summer league, and donate proceeds to charity or to inner city youth athletic programs is dope," says The Game. "Pheed is a powerful tool. For someone like me, I love having options."
Pheed attracted attention earlier this year when it spent some time as the most downloaded social media app, a spot it earned for its all-encompassing style, which includes the ability to post not only photos, videos and text, but audio clips as well.
It's that wide range of expression that appeals to rapper Waka Flocka Flame. "It's one device that's like an octopus," he says. "It has so many arms."
The pay-per-view option, launched over the Memorial Day weekend by comic Hal Sparks, is the newest feature. It's the one that Pheed CEO O.D. Kobo is currently most excited about. "We're fully not done with the evolution of the product and adding things, but we were always racing to introduce it so we could be the first to allow live stream pay-per-view on mobile on an app," he tells Rolling Stone. "We think it's a pretty significant landmark in the space. I know we're the first because we kind of had to test the boundaries with Apple for processing and so forth.
"The technology has always been out there – it's just kind of combining it. Broadcasting on apps – Ustream does it, a few others have been able to allow live broadcasts on an app. But what has not been [available] is the ability for a user to broadcast and allow a pay-per-view stream in real-time processing. That really incentivizes content creators, whether it be comedians, musicians, skaters – anybody. That's what we are excited about as well, to push the envelope to the next stage and see what people do with it."
The possibilities do seem endless, limited only by the creativity of the individual artists, who set the price point and air their content on their own Pheed channel. Things may get very entertaining on Waka Flocka's Pheed channel, for instance.
"Maybe I'll start a dating service," he says. "Words can't explain the shit Waka Flocka can do with mobilization devices. [And] I'm not sure when I will do my first pay-per-view, but it will be epic."
As excited as Kobo is about the creative prospects for the Pheed pay-per-view service, he is also looking forward to what it offers up-and-coming bands. "I think smaller bands that enjoy touring, that live that lifestyle – this is digital touring, that's what Pheed is," he says. "You go onstage, you play. It's just the evolution of the genre. The world changed so you don't have to go on a bus or travel – you can reach that audience. Why do I need to travel to China or to London when I can sit in my garage and play to London, China and Brazil? We're hoping smaller bands can simply reach their audiences and create these shows. It could be amazing, it really can."
Kobo is aware of the cynicism that comes, especially in this day and age, with getting people to pay for music. It's a necessary next step, he says.
"People are always skeptical of the payment. If they don't pay for live digital streaming then I like to say to them, 'Then you're fucked just as much as I am. Go back to Twitter and keep tweeting, 'cause you're not gonna make any money there either,'" he says. "The music business has to find a solution. Tweeting is for the birds. Enjoy. You don't make anything. Free online cannot sustain – someone has to get paid, because it costs money to create. And the next generation, I think if we build these tools, they'll use them very wisely. They're already using social media very wisely, and I believe in our side."