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Wanna Buy Clubcastlive.com?

It seems the big content companies aren't the only ones struggling lately.

Clubcastlive.com ( http://www.clubcastlive.com), a small Austin-based audio webcaster of live local concerts, said it had to let its entire staff go this afternoon.

According to President James Weiss, however, most of the staff haven't left and might even stick around until the end of next week, when he expects the company to close shop completely.

"I'd love for someone to acquire us," said Weiss. "They can get us for next to nothing." Can someone say "fire sale"?

The company started audiocasting concerts in August 1999, making deals with local clubs to equip their stages for streaming. The idea was to webcast a concert, provide local and indie bands with some exposure, and bring some attention to the club, as well. At its peak, the company equipped 21 stages for unattended recording and streaming, using Icecast technology which programmers had to re-write, in parts.

Weiss points out that Green Witch was acquired by CMGI in January largely because they created the Icecast open source streaming system. Can a similar deal be struck?

First, it's helpful to understand why Clubcastlive.com is dying. What went wrong? Weiss attributes his company's demise to a bad market for audio. "Our timing was lousy," he admits. "Audio wasn't getting the investments," says Weiss, pointing out that many venture capitalists were busy funding video companies. Essentially, the company found itself in a Catch-22; it needed money to expand to other cities besides Austin, but branching out was too expensive for them.

Also concert audiocasting is a very niche segment with an unproven business model. Despite that, Clubcastlive.com leaves big competitors in its wake. The biggest is Digitalclubnetwork.com (http://www.digitalclubnetwork.com) a New York-based company launching soon. Also net music company Riffage.com (http://www.riffage.com) announced its "Riffage Live" division in April. Clearly, competitors were looming and prepared to add live video, something that Weiss says was too cost prohibitive.

What's next for Weiss? He says he'd love to work for a VC company or an incubator to (what else) fund companies in the music space. "I love this industry, it's just that the conditions were wrong for us," he says.

For now the site's up and running; he's waiting for the ISP to cut the company's line.

So, anyone want to buy an audio webcaster?

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