Best live music apps on Roku, Amazon Fire TV

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Kendrick Lamar on Austin City Limits.

MTV Live may be gone from PlayStation Vue, but there’s still plenty of live music around

Losing MTV Live from my PlayStation Vue subscription was painful. Shows like Austin City Limits and Later … with Jools Holland were on regular rotation in my household.

Since PlayStation Vue dumped Viacom over what’s believed to be a pricing dispute, I’ve had to go elsewhere for my live music fix.  So, here’s my picks for the best live music apps and shows for cord cutters and streaming enthusiasts.  

When Viacom rebranded Palladia earlier this year to MTV Live, it was a great move. I began watching MTV in the 1980s when the channel regularly featured live shows. Somewhere in my parents basement or attic, I probably still have my recording I made one day when MTV rebroadcasted Guns N Roses Live at The Ritz. MTV was still years off from becoming a beacon for reality TV and teen-driven dramas. For my generation, MTV Live was a much needed salve.

I’m still hopeful that Viacom can get their act together and see the errors of their ways by the end of the year. But I’m not suffering in the meantime. There are still plenty of apps that can help us get a decent live music fix. Here are a few favorites that are mostly free.

Tiny Desk Concerts by NPR Music 

The Tiny Desk Concerts series gives you a clever mini-concert meant to be enjoyed by desktop, by smartphone or streaming device. Each show features about 10 or 15 minutes of a band or solo act. It looks like its shot in somebody’s basement or man cave. And that’s OK.

NPR Music Channel

There is a lot more live music worth checking out aside from Tiny Desk Concerts on the NPR Music Channel. There’s live singles in the NPR Music Field Recordings.

NPR Music Front Row has a variety of hour-long shows. The “Popular Uploads” queue is an easy way to find the most watched videos posted within the last five years.  

How to watch: on Roku, add the channel Tiny Desk Concerts from NPR. On a Fire TV or Android TV, you can stream the same content off of the NPR Music channel found on YouTube.

Austin City Limits (PBS)

Kendrick Lamar, Willie Nelson and Ryan Adams were among some of the best shows Austin City Limits had in 2016. The robust lineup of new acts and bands that have been around for decades never ceases to dazzle. Austin City Limits just celebrated their 40th anniversary. The most clever aspect of the show is that it focuses on the music. There’s no particular host or emcee jamming you up. Just music. And it’s all great.

How to watch: on Roku and Amazon Fire TV, use the PBS app. You can also catch the show OTA on your local PBS station.

KEXP (YouTube)

The Seattle-based radio station has an amazing lineup of deejays who will school you about great music. There’s also a bunch of live, in-studio performances from singers like Charles Bradley and groups like CHVRCHES. There is months and months, perhaps even years worth of live music to be had.

How to watch: Stream it from any device via YouTube – either by app or web browser.

Quello Concerts

Quello Concerts is a subscription-based service that streams full length concerts and documentaries. I haven’t subscribed, but by downloading the app, I get to check out Quello TV, which streams free snippets from various concerts in the Quello catalog. You can pick a genre of music, but Quello controls what’s shown. It’s actually kind of fun to let this run in the background for a bit to see what comes up. Once I saw a part of a Tears for Fears concert from the 1980s. Another time, Mick Jagger was performing “Gimme Shelter” with U2 at a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony. You can play Quello TV for as long as you want. And if a pesky menu pops up asking you to subscribe, just back out of it and let it continue playing like a jukebox.

Got any other ideas for live shows to replace MTV Live? Drop our readers a suggestion in the comments below.



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