Co.Create

Daryl Hall's New Mobile Home

Unlike pop and soul icons who rest on their legacies, Daryl Hall broke new ground with his web show Live From Daryl’s House, which invited musicians--and viewers--into his tricked-out barn. Now the blond half of Hall & Oates is haulin’ his homeboys (and girls) out on the road.

Hall & Oates’ music and videos ruled the '80s, and the Grammy-winning duo’s music is still everywhere--from American Idol to an entire album of H&O covers by The Bird & The Bee in 2010. In late December, two enterprising tech startup types even built a web-powered phone hotline ("Callin’ Oates," 719-266-2837) that allowed callers to choose from a list of streaming H&O hits and instantly satisfy cravings for, say, "Maneater." ("Those guys got something like 23,000 calls in the first day alone," says Hall’s manager Jonathan Wolfson. "But it’s just another example of the momentum from this recent renaissance of the Hall & Oates brand.")

For his part, Daryl Hall has pushed deeply into music’s (and video’s) new decentralized digital domain with his successful web series, Live From Daryl’s House (LFDH). The monthly music show is free, critically acclaimed, and has grown since its humble launch four years ago into an archive of around 50 episodes and about 200,000 visitors per episode. Things really picked up after the series won the 2010 Webby Award for Best Variety Show and a 2011 MTV O Award. Even old media took note--a syndicated TV version of LFDH airs in at least 62 outlets around the U.S.A.

The show is basically Hall and his house band jamming with a guest list of old and new artists. Naturally, John Oates has joined him for sessions. Hall’s old Philly pal Todd Rundgren sat in for two episodes. Nick Lowe, K.T. Tunstall, Smokey Robinson, The Doors’ Robby Krieger, and Ray Manzarek have all done the show. And so have newer artists such as Fitz & the Tantrums, Gym Class Heroes’ Travis McCoy, Chromeo, country singer Jimmy Wayne, Diane Birch, and Sharon Jones (sans Dap Kings).

Now Hall, whose online broadcast shook up the formula for concerts, TV, and concerts on TV (especially among his generational peers) by inviting musical guests and viewers into his house with the click of a mouse, is flipping the script again.

"We’re actually going to be doing two Live From Daryl’s House concerts," Hall tells Fast Company, "one with Todd [Rundgren], and one with Fitz & the Tantrums. And I continue to do Hall & Oates touring. So I’ve got plenty of stuff going on." Hall also released his latest album, Laughing Down Crying, primarily through iTunes. (A conventional, physical CD is also available from his site).

At least one pal of Hall’s says the only reason the typically nomadic musician stayed put long enough to launch the web series was Lyme disease--Hall had to cancel shows in 2005 after being diagnosed with it, and he suffered bouts of headaches, tremors, and fatigue on and off for months.

Hall insists he’s had his eye on the web for years, though.

"I had the idea of Live From Daryl’s House way before I contracted Lyme disease," Hall says. "If you look back in my history, the Live at the Apollo show with Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin was the very first LFDH. Now technology, with the advent of the Internet, makes it possible to do this type of integration. This show had to start as a web series, [since] television (at the time) wouldn’t allow the flexibility, as well as the organic fan-build, needed for the show to properly evolve. LFDH is the first music series of its kind on the web. Some of my ideas actually came from television; the initial idea of this show came from Survivor Man. I figured that if he can put out a show in the middle of a jungle, then I could put out one from my barn."

Initially, Hall’s production values in that barn were necessarily lean, largely because the show was launched with his own capital investment.

"I sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars into it before I had any backing," Hall says. "It was a real risk, but I’ve never done anything artistically with a monetary inspiration. I am an artist, and this is something that I really wanted to do."

Hall recalls that his initial programs were shot on nothing more than Sony Handycams, operated by his friends and road crew.

"That went on for a few episodes, and then I realized that I really couldn’t afford to do this. You can’t give stuff away like that. Plus, in the topsy-turvy world of the Internet, the more people that watch the more it costs you to stream it. So it’s not very conducive to working on your own. I also realized early on that I needed a director, because I wanted somebody to help me out, be objective about it, and sort of edit it and put it all together. That all costs money, too."

Hall soon realized that if he wanted to keep the production values high--the show now boasts top-quality sound mixes and multiple camera-angle shoots in HD--he would need some capital investors. Fortunately for him, a silent partner "who doesn’t like to be talked about" came in to underwrite the entire operation.

"I couldn’t do it without that person," Hall insists. "So we’ve been lucky there, and I can focus on my vision for the series and getting the guests. A lot of this started with me getting on the phone and calling people and saying 'Hey you wanna join in? I’ve been in this business a long time, and I know a lot of people! And I think, uniquely, I have the ear of a lot of young musicians and the ear of people that have been around longer than me, who I’ve followed. Art is a continuum. You learn from people you love and then people that love you learn from you too. That’s how it works. To be in the middle of that, generationally, is really an amazing feeling."

Could this ever amount to an actual revenue stream for Hall, or is the web program mostly a self-fulfilling platform to promote new products and tours?

"In regard to it being a revenue stream, we’re being viewed in over 83% of the country and it’s going to take some time to build, like all grass roots/word-of-mouth shows. The transition that has made the most impact on me was when it jumped to TV. It’s an incredible feeling to build something from scratch and have it viewed on two significant media."

As for social media outreach, Hall has the usual suspects covered, there’s an LFDH Facebook page and a Twitter feed, but he insists that the best connection is the show itself, delivered to the laptops and iPads of his fans around the web.

"I feel as though that the pure nature of the show, which is bringing people into the place I live, does more for fan interaction than a social media site. What’s more intimate than inviting people to see my life in my house? I was always hoping to make an impact on the Internet. I’m a pioneer and I’m doing something that needs to be done, bring true entertainment to the Internet and not just gossip and games."

Mark Maglio

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25 Comments

  • Rvallone1

    I was at Live Aid 85 right in front from the stage.. what a performance

    I will never forget that night!!!! Love you guys!!

  • Leslie Robinson

    Daryl Hall is one of the most innovative and forward thinking musician\artist around. Always ahead of the game. Like creating his own label back in the 1990's, long before it was concievable to do so.

  • John Davidowsky

    I first saw Hall and Oates at The Bottom Line in NYC when they released Abandoned Lunchenette. I sure miss those small casual rooms. I wish I could attend a similiar event like that today.

  • John

    Great article. I've been a Hall & Oates, Todd Rundgren fan since the early 70's. One artist you didn't mention (who took part in LFDH) is Mayer Hawthorne. He's the best new discovery of 2011 (for me). Great show!

  • jmacofearth

    "The band is just fantastic, that is really what I think, oh, by the way, which one's pink?"

    Love LFDH. LOVE IT.

     

  • Peggy

    LFDH has been great from the start and now it just gets better and better. The band is fantastic and the guests have been so great.
    Loved hearing that there will be two LFDH concerts, one with Todd and one with Fit and The Tantrums---two of my favorite LFDH episodes. Todd and Daryl are awesome together. Fitz and the Tantrums have so much energy and talent.  Will there be a schedule out soon announcing when these LFDH concert will be and the venue?

  • Backinnyc

    Great article about an amazing initiative! I saw the concert version of Live From Daryl's House, featuring Todd Rundgren, at the Borgata in Atlantic City and it was great as well. /Anders Lundquist

  • Linda Brady

    I stumbled across LFDH on the Internet while searching for Todd Rundgren music. Really enjoyed the episode with Todd at Daryl's home, especially For the Want of a Nail (that rocked). The episode at Todd's house in Hawaii was so much fun to watch. I was SHOCKED one Sunday morning while channel surfing on tv to see Todd on LFDH. Couldn't believe this was actually on tv....I called a fellow Todd-head, woke her up.....just to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Now I DVR LFDH on Sunday mornings and look forward to watching with my 20-something kids to share this musical experience with them. This is one activity I can share with my adult kids. Thanks to Paul Myers for writing this article.

  • Cheryl

    I was unaware of this online show and now want to look it up. Thank you for bringing our attention to it Mr. Myers.

  • Corey James

    How totally cool to see some of the people I've jammed to my whole life doing this. Daryl Hall is awesome & I think it's really great that he's dedicated himself to such a fantastic project - especially considering he didn't do it for them money!

    Who says there aren't good people in this world anymore? 

    I wasn't aware of the LFDH - this is now a Merry Christmas indeed. =)

  • charlie

    Inspiring! Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Finding a way to completely respark his career via the Internet was genius. I love hearing so many of today's acts are giving him the credit he deserves. He's an obvious influence on all the acts you named appearing on his show.
    It wasn't until more recently that I began to appreciate his music.

    Great article I can't wait to finally see the show.

    Charlie c

  • Kevin Wall

    I've been watching this show from the beginning. It covers so many musical genres and eras. There is really nothing else like it anywhere else. Nice job Mr Myers at opening the eyes and ears of the future LFDH viewers. 

  • Jonah Ward

    An excellent piece, Mr. Myers. A bassist friend of mine, who's deep into Jethro Tull and all things prog rock -- randomly struck up a conversation about Daryl Hall and LFDH, just last night. He's a convert. And he'll tell two friends. And so on...

  • Les Doerfler

    A great article by Paul Myers illustrating how artists do not remain static, but instead continue to reinvent themselves as technology advances. It seems the song does not remain the same. Well done.

  • Jack Williams

    Funny how things cycle.  I was a huge fan of Hall & Oates in the 70s and now I'm a huge fan again.  Was it them or me?

    Great article on a great American talent.

  • Ed MacDaniel

    Nice article, Paul.  I can't believe I was so dismissive of so much great music back in the "day" that didn't fit in my narrow box of appreciation.  It's been gratifying and humbling to find what I missed out on.  Sigh.