Resonance from the Victorian age ︎

What was the earliest form of livestream? I think it can probably be traced back to the late Victorian age. Operating from 1895 to 1925 in the United Kingdom, the Electrophone was a kind of telecommunication equipment used to listen to opera and music shows remotely in real-time. Conventional telephone lines linked the large microphones besides the footlights on stage to the headphones in subscribers’ homes, so that people were able to enjoy this sort of live music without being present.

I found a series of advertising material for the Electrophone in the BT Archive, including promotional cards, posters and leaflets with illustrations. These images vividly depict the scene of people enjoying ’live’ music – a group of ladies and gentlemen holding the headphones, sitting in a large room, chilling in their leisure time together.
Just recall the scenario for a second of sitting around with your family in front of the television/radio watching/listening to music and TV shows in your childhood. It can be said that there were little differences compared with the experience of the Electrophone. From the Victorian Electrophone to 1920s radio broadcasting, from mid-twentieth-century’s live television to online streaming now, music and shows have always gathered large numbers of people together, wherever the performance is, wherever the audience is. In this sense, whether in physical or virtual space, even just in people’s feelings, the network built by music and livestreaming has been forming communities everywhere. It has been shaping music subcultures from the early age of telecommunication until now, and of course, will continue its impact on both communities and music subcultures in the future.

 - My modern response to the Victorian advertisement -