The coronavirus has pretty much shut down live shows leaving many musicians with no choice but to reach their fans virtually. Many have turned to livestreams.
Livestreams are a great way to connect with your target audience. They provide real time communication and may even make for a personalized experience as compared to a live show.
And while livestreams are great vehicles for bands, they can be used by all types of industry professionals. If you are an expert in your field, you can use the livestream format to conduct webinars, seminars and other informative meetings.
Read on to find out more about livestreaming and how you can make yours stand out.
Why are Livestreams Beneficial?
Livestreams have been instrumental in helping bands remain visible through the pandemic. But once artists begin using this medium, they may find unexpected benefits they hadn’t even anticipated. Here are some to consider:
Reaching a Larger Audience
When you play a show, you are limited to playing for the people in your area. When you livestream, your potential audience has no limits. You may even reach people on the other side of the globe.
No Excuses for Not Showing Up
If you’re a musician, you’re probably all too used to hearing people give you an excuse as to why they didn’t show up for your show. The truth is, a huge reason people don’t attend is because they don’t want to leave their house. They may be too lazy, or they may not have access to convenient transportation. Attending a livestream does not involve leaving the home. Viewers just need to be close to a computer.
It Can Be Even More Personal
When you’re at a live show, it’s hard to speak to everyone. When you’re on stage, you need to concentrate on playing. Once you’re off stage, you must deal with lugging your equipment, selling merch and more. This can make it difficult to talk to everyone and thank them for coming.
When you livestream, messages come in at real time. If you have a large audience, they may come in too quickly for you to get a chance to respond to everyone, but there is a greater likelihood that you can be interactive with your audience.
It Gives You More Freedom
At a club, you are limited by time constraints. You need to blow through your set quickly and get on and off stage so the next band can perform. When you are at home, you have no time limits other than the ones you set. This gives you an option to stop and tell jokes and say hello to everyone.
Of course, it is wise not to overstay your welcome. Viewers will tune out if you’re on too long. We’ll have more on this further along in the article.
What are the Best Livestreaming Platforms for Musicians?
Once you decide to do a livestream, you will want to find a livestreaming platform. Here are some to consider.
YouTube provides a great way to reach hundreds of fans and subscribers. Livestream events can be public or private. After the event livestreams, it will be permanently available on your channel, unless you decide to delete it.
You can stream from Facebook on your band, business or personal page. The video will pop up on your followers’ news streams making them more likely to tune in. You can also create events in Facebook to let your followers know about your livestream. The videos will be saved to your page.
When you go live on Instagram, your stream will not appear in your followers’ news streams, but your followers will get a notification that you are going live. After the livestream occurs, you will be able to save it to your page as an IGTV video.
Twitch started out as a platform geared towards gamers who would sit in and watch others play and learn valuable gaming tips. It is trying to expand by bringing more musicians onto their site. If Twitch sounds like a good option to you, set up a channel and you are good to go.
Periscope is Twitter’s livestream platform. Just like Twitch, all you need to do is open an account and you can livestream to your heart’s content. One thing to note about Periscope is that it tends to bring in a lot of hecklers. It is not recommended for those that are sensitive or get mad easily.
Google Meets and Zoom
These are both platforms that are mostly made for video conferencing. However, they will only be accessible to those that are provided with a link. Although this limits the amount of people you reach, it also makes for a more exclusive experience for those that are invited.
Restream is a paid platform, but if you livestream a lot, it may be a worthwhile investment. It will stream your content on two Facebook pages (these could be your band page and personal page) YouTube, Twitch, Periscope and more. It does not stream on Instagram, but you can set up a separate camera to reach those followers.
Guidelines for Livestreaming Quality
Now let’s look at some things you will want to do to make people want to see your livestream.
Get the Lighting Right
No one is going to want to watch a livestream that they can barely see. Make sure your livestream is well lit by checking out your image in the camera before going live. You may have to add some lights but there are ring lights that are not too expensive and may do the trick.
Get the Sound Right
You’ll also want to make sure your audience can hear you. There’s no way to tell how well you can be heard until you watch your video back so the best thing to do is to ask your viewers how the audio is when the video starts. It’s a good idea to have a mic and some sort of amplification on hand if possible. If your audience is having trouble hearing you, this may be the best way to boost your voice.
Get the Frame Right
It’s also important to make sure you are in frame. You should be centered in the middle of the screen, not too low or high. You can determine how good the framing is before you start you video.
Keep in mind that getting these elements right will be more complicated if you are planning to film your entire band in comparison to if you are doing a solo performance.
Guidelines for Livestreaming Fun Factor
Once you have the framing, sound and lighting right, you’ll want to work on making your livestream fun and engaging. Here are some suggestions.
Interact with Your Audience
Interacting with your audience will make your event more fun for your viewers. You should say hello to your viewers and answer any questions they have, but you can also promote conversations by asking them questions. This will make them feel like part of something.
Wear Something Fun
Your video will appear in people’s livestreams as they scroll. If you are wearing something fun or funky, your video will catch their eye making them more likely to tune in.
Make a Cool Backdrop
Your backdrop will also play a role in helping your video capture people’s attention. You may want to shoot in a room that has a funky vibe. Alternately, you may want to create a cool backdrop, maybe one with your band logo. If you are technically skilled, consider creating a cool green screen effect.
Make a Theme
Themes will make people want to watch your show even more. You can build your theme around an upcoming holiday or event that may be relevant to your band such as a record release or birthday. You can also make your theme about a certain decade, movie or TV show.
Promote the theme by decorating and dressing accordingly. You can also play songs that have something to do with the theme or ask your audience relevant trivia questions.
Other Points to Note
Here are some other random things to be aware of.
You may think it will be fun to play a cover in your set. However, social media sites have been cracking down on copyright infringement. Playing someone else’s music could mean that you will have your video taken down and the platform could even remove your band page.
Some artists think that providing credit for the work or a link to the original artist will protect them from copyright issues, but this is not the case.
Time is of the Essence
Time is an important factor to consider.
You could do a marathon livestream to see how many people tune in over time, but it’s best to limit the amount of time you are on. The general pattern is that viewers will log out if you’re on too long and if they become annoyed, they may not tune in again. Therefore, it’s best to limit your livestream to an hour or less.
You should also consider livestreaming at a time when you know your audience is available. Evenings and weekends are recommended.
Finding the Right Location
The location where you choose to shoot is also important. You want to find somewhere that is well lit and has good acoustics. You will also want to find a space that is okay with you making some noise, especially if you are livestreaming your full band.
If you have a house or garage you can shoot in, that will be ideal. A rehearsal studio will work but you will probably have to rent the studio for filming purposes.
Outdoor locations are another option, but keep in mind that you will have little control over the environment. If a loud noise occurs or if a passer by walks on the set, it will all go down live, and it could negatively affect the video.
How to Promote Your Livestream
No one will tune into your livestream if they don’t know about it. Here are some ways to get the word out.
Regularity is Great for Promotion
Hosting your livestream at a set time will help you build a following. For instance, if people know you’re show is on every Friday, or every first Sunday of the month, they will know to tune in without being reminded. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t remind them!
Make an Event in Facebook
Facebook is a terrific platform when it comes to promoting events. They provide tools that let you create events and invite your following. Those who respond will even be sent reminders when the event is about to begin. Facebook events will be especially effective if you are hosting your event on Facebook live.
When creating your event, provide as much info as possible including what songs will be played, what themes will be explored, if any, and what else the audience can expect. Advertise it so people know they are in for a good time.
You advertise shows with fliers, why not a livestream?
Just like any other type of flier, your livestream media should include an attractive image, the time of your show and where it can be viewed. If you can fit more info on the flier about what the audience can expect, do it.
In today’s world of digital marketing, videos are said to be one of the most effective ways to reach the public. They provide both visual and audio elements giving viewers the entire story.
Think it’s weird to make a video to promote a video? Think again.
When creating a video, think of including clips from past livestreams. Or have yourself or a member of your band talk about what to expect during the show. This is a great way to draw people in.
Can I Livestream with Multiple Musicians?
Livestreaming is great because you can do it at any time from anywhere. But it gets a little more complicated when you want to stream with other musicians. It will involve getting everyone together at one central location at a time that works for them.
You can make this slightly easier by streaming musicians in various locations on one platform. Doing so will allow you to play with musicians from all over the world.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to do this.
One solution is to use Instagram. Instagram will allow you to livestream with another user. However, you may be dealing with a time delay or there may be other atmospheric noise that gets in the way of the sound quality.
Another option is to stream through OBS Studio. This will require all musicians involved to have their own accounts on the platform of your choice. Then you must take steps to sync up the performances.
Basically, this works like a stream where one performer is the initiator. It’s the initiators job to set down the beat so this person should be the drummer or percussionist. The initiator will be the upstream performer and he or she will not be able to hear any of the other performers, which is problematic but highly skilled musicians will be able to deal with it.
The other players will be downstream performers and they will play over the initiator adding their own parts. The final downstream player in the chain will be the one who is broadcasting the livestream.
OBS studio will be taking care of the streaming and you will need Blackhole for audio capture. You will also need to set up a multi-output audio device that be created through the Audio MIDI set up in Blackhole.
I’m sure this is all sounding very complicated at the moment, but if it’s something you’d like to pursue, this article has more details.
Famous Musicians with Livestreams
Image Credit: NME.com
There are several musicians that have taken advantage of the livestream option during the coronavirus pandemic and may continue to use virtual performing platforms in the future. Here are some that are most notable.
- Matt Heafy: Trivium singer Matt Heafy has turned lemons into lemonade by starting a livestream show on Twitch to keep fans engaged during the pandemic.
- Billie Joe Armstrong: Billie Joe Armstrong took to social media when the pandemic began starting a series called “No Fun Mondays” which he filmed in his living room. During the event, he covered some retro hits and had other guests appear with him virtually.
- Metallica: Metallica also focused on Monday as a day to connect with fans. Viewers could tune in for free on Mondays at 5 PM PST to catch a complete show on YouTube and Facebook.
There are countless other events that have occurred via livestream during the pandemic including awards shows, conferences, benefits and more. Check out Billboard Magazine.com to find out what’s coming up.
Livestreaming is a great way to reach your following. It exposes you to a wide audience, and it can be an easy and low maintenance event. What livestreaming tips would you recommend for making an engaging music event?