iTunes taking over live music?

Following a brief residency at London’s ICA gallery last year with iTunes performances from everyone from Paul McCartney to Kasabian, Apple has set up shop in Camden this month.

Every day during July, Camden’s Koko plays host to a mix of artists and bands and, after each performance, live tracks will be available to download from iTunes. You can see the full line up and try to win free tickets here.

The iTunes Live event raises the question: is Apple set to take over live music? Last year Madonna quit her record label and signed a contract with concert promoter Live Nation, combining recording, merchandise and touring rights for all her new material. The theory is that with CD sales dwindling, live performances (and recordings of live performances) are far more lucrative.

The iTunes Live audience is made up entirely of competition winners, meaning every single ticket is free with money made from iTunes downloads of the live performances. Would the global iTunes download of concert tracks make more money than 2000 Koko ticket (and beer) sales? Of course – which begs the question – how big could the ‘free ticket and pay-for download’ industry become?

Next year, could Apple take over Wembley for a week and offer free tickets to a Live 8 style event, then sell the whole day back to concert goers and the rest of the world as a premium iTunes download package? Given the resurgence of live music and importance of touring an album, it’s a real possibility…