The Case for Doing It Live (edited)

In Blog by Jonny Levin

The platform you’re reading this on, allows for published stories to be edited. Meaning this piece could look completely different when you refresh the page and there would be nothing to indicate that the content had been changed in any way.

Let’s say I wrote a 10,000 word treatise on how Honeycrisp is the best kind of apple. You click it, read it, like it, and even comment something to the effect of, “I agree with every word and idea expressed in this article!” Having experienced a sudden change of heart (or simply wanting to spite you) I could modify the piece advocating in favor of Granny Smith, tearing down Honeycrisp die-hards in the process.

While that’s fairly low-stakes, it speaks to the broader idea that digital media is infinitely mutable, and thus there’s no guarantee that a song, article, or movie you consume will remain exactly the same in the future. Take the Kanye West album Life of Pablo for example. For several months after its initial release Kanye continued to update the album with different vocals, lyrics, and arrangements. In recent months, Lizzo and Beyonce responded to internet backlash by pulling their new songs and re-releasing them with revised lyrics days later.

When it’s so easy and inexpensive to make adjustments to a finished work there will always be the possibility and temptation to do so. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the product will be improved upon. An ever-evolving work may also have the unintended consequence of violating fan expectations and losing a shared cultural touchstone in the process. While the ability to revise released material can be a useful creative tool, there’s freedom in having no choice but to be done with it and move on to the next one.

I experienced this as a producer on a daytime talk show where three shows a week aired live and two were taped. Without the safety net of being able to fix it in post, there was a palpable energy behind and in front of the camera during live shows that translate into better shows. The pressure of live television forced everyone to be on their A-game. I relished the feeling of leaving the studio after a taping knowing that the show was out in the world and despite any imperfections could not be revised in any way.

When it comes to live streaming performance there’s also no such possibility to make adjustments after the fact. Live shows have a certain energy, rawness, spontaneity, authenticity, and excitement that a heavily edited work can’t emulate. That’s exactly what we’re trying to capture on Live Bash stages.

There’s a reason we’re called Live Bash and not Edited Bash. The reason being that Edited Bash was already trademarked…But there’s also a more philosophical reason that has nothing to do with intellectual property law. We believe there’s something special about live performance. Whatever happens on our stages happens. There’s no magic edit button. The beauty of a livestreamed performance is that it’s a moment in time experienced communally, and unlike this essay (which may not include this line tomorrow) you don’t have to worry about it changing when you’re not looking.



Jonny Levin

Creative Ops