Live in Ya Lounge founder Rob Cartwright with camera equipment for their live online broadcasts.
Live in Ya Lounge founder Rob Cartwright established the digital live music platform to keep the staff at his AV company in work and provide opportunity for local musicians. Photo Kerrie Brewer.

For both punters and musicians, you can’t beat the energy of a live gig, but founder of Live in Ya Lounge, Rob Cartwright, has come very close with his new venture.

ICYMI (in case you missed it), live music and all the industries that revolve around it have been stopped in their tracks by restrictions designed to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

Live in Ya Lounge was founded to provide musicians with a platform to have a live performance broadcast digitally at an industry standard – a full production complete with professional audio and lighting.

Having already presented three concerts, demand is at a point where in a fortnight’s time they plan to be operating gigs two nights a week, with bookings through until July.

Cartwright, also managing director of Event AV Services, saw his audio-visual business come to a standstill when the COVID-19 restrictions were enacted in March.

“We’ve got 27 people on JobKeeper. When that all first happened, we made a commitment to keep everyone on and to find a way through,” he told Canberra Weekly.

“Bands were in a similar boat where their entire livelihood was taken away from them.”

Cartwright said he worked “really hard” with ACT Health and other departments to get an approval process to ensure they could operate.

“I don’t think anyone had ever written a sanitisation policy for a microphone before,” he smiled.

Cartwright said both audiences and the bands themselves have been taken aback by the quality he and his team are able to produce.

“People think it’s going to be like what else they’ve seen during the pandemic, which is recorded on someone’s iPhone in a lounge room.

“What we’re producing is very different to that, it really is a virtual concert.

“High-level professional video, audio with lighting. A lot of first-time viewers are taken aback by the level of quality that’s being produced. The bands are the same, they walk in and go ‘oh wow’.

“There’s seven cameras, camera operators, lighting operators, studio set up with audio … as high a quality as we can produce to get as good an experience as you would have got in a concert otherwise.”

Pivoting into live digital broadcasting has presented myriad challenges for Cartwright and his team, which he says they’ve embraced wholeheartedly.

“We’re not a marketing or a production house really … We’re learning a lot of new things on the fly.

“Booking bands, handling social media, cross platform streaming across their own Facebook and YouTube, as well as band’s social media too.

“Our guys have had to adapt; I’ve got really good audio guys … I’ve got them on cameras learning how to do camera operating, learning how to do streaming.

“We’re doing a whole lot of learning very quickly but, like anybody, you’re grateful to have something to do … it gives you a sense of purpose.”

Post-pandemic, Cartwright thinks there will be space for his service and is of the belief that the events industry will experience permanent change on the back of COVID-19.

“Nothing will ever replicate a live performance for an artist, but this goes close.

“If and when concerts and festivals happen again, what we’re doing … why wouldn’t you do that as well, or in conjunction with,” he said.

Being a self-funded operation raising funds by donation, Cartwright said Live in Ya Lounge will eventually require extra funding to continue and encouraged anyone wanting to support the venture to contact him.

Click here for more information and upcoming concerts.

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