It’s hard to get behind yet another pitch for a site or an app that proclaims, “We’re like AirBnB but for pet turtles” or “We’re the Pandora of lunch”, no matter how quirky and social they sound. So, I deliberately avoided Qello when I first heard of it, because the idea of a Netflix-style streaming service but only for concerts sounded like a stupid, bad thing.
Why would I pay another monthly fee for access to yet another streaming content site, especially one with such a precise focus? Netflix already has concerts. Netflix also has more hours of video that anyone could watch in a lifetime. Why would I ever want Qello?
Well, it turns out that I want Qello; because Qello does what it sets out to do very, very well.
The site is a clean, simple database of a few thousand titles which range from straightforward concert films to band-specific documentaries. It has everything from music video collections to genre-specific features. By clicking on a title, you pull up all the production information and track-list which allows you to jump to any song in the show. You can also tag whole shows or individual songs for inclusion on playlists, and build your perfect six hour party background video. The service is available through the site but is also accessible via app from most phones and game systems, as well as a direct subscription through Amazon Prime Video.
For seven bucks a month, this probably means that your mileage depends entirely on what you think of the catalogue. Compared to Netflix’s ninety offerings in the music category, there is only around 8% crossover and most of the Netflix titles are documentaries or even musicals. You won’t be coming to Qello for A Very Murray Christmas after all.
What does the site have? A decent chunk of everything. There are 30 genres of music and film, ranging from a two week old release back to a 1920 jazz reel. This pitch it as “B.B. King to ZZ Top, Lady Gaga to Barbra Streisand” and that’s pretty dead on. Depending on your personal taste, you’ll have to weigh in. I jumped straight into the nearly 167 concerts in “Alternative” and found a 70/30 split of stuff I was really excited to watch versus artists that I either didn’t care about or didn’t even know who they were.
There was perhaps too much Green Day but there was also a Radiohead bootleg I once bought for $50. I had no idea you could watch that Astoria performance without VHS traction lines! I jumped to a super recent reunion tour for Garbage that I missed when it came through town. 722 more titles awaited me in “Rock”, and that’s when I knew Qello was going to be worth my monthly fee.
To my eye, there’s an impressive library here and having constant access to these titles and playlist building makes it a unique, impressive system. Getting streaming rights signed off from a label, publisher, band, and director seems to prevent most music from hitting the kind of services that aren’t willing to shell out some serious time and cash to make it happen. Qello seems uniquely positioned to fulfill that need, and their attention to detail shows.
I’m keeping my subscription, and don’t tell my dad but I know what that retired rockstar is getting for Christmas.
Final Verdict: It’s lit.