Being Modern: Live on the internet

The modern-day Julius Caesar has no need to come and see to conquer; he can be beamed anywhere in the land through the power of the live stream. (Tomorrow, a performance by the actor Jude Owusu will be shown in 3,000 UK classrooms as part of the World Shakespeare Festival.)

One man, one performance, no admission price, no booking fee, no late arrivals, no coughers, no on-stage spitters, no public transport to and fro, no interval toilet queues... It is not surprising that our appetite for such online entertainments is increasing faster than you can say, "Veni, vidi, vici".

And though the luvvies and the symphony orchestras are now grasping such opportunities with both hands, it is generally believed that the first performance to be broadcast live across the internet was that of Severe Tire Damage, a garage rock band, back in 1993. A little over a decade later, the Scottish singer-songwriter Sandi Thom pushed herself on to the pop agenda when she set off on her 21 Nights from Tooting "tour", during which she didn't leave the basement of her flat.

Since then there have been live "shows" beamed from the back of a taxi (blackcabsessions.com), from public stages (bandstandbusking.com), and even from a boat perched atop the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London's South Bank (aroomforlondon.com, above). And now, a few months ago, Pepsi announced a $600m deal with Twitter to stream live-music concerts over the internet.

On a smaller scale, artists such as the singer-songwriter Polly Paulusma are also starting to discover the benefits. "I recently did a gig from my drawing-room on a website called Stageit [stageit.com], where I performed to 12 customers who tipped me as I was playing. I played for 40 minutes and made £50 without leaving my house or babies," she says.

Ah but what, you cry, about the drunk-dancing along? The opportunities for heckling? The ticky-tack of stale beer underfoot? To which we say, where you choose to watch internet shows and what you choose to do during them is entirely up to you.

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