With most of the world in various states of lockdown, musicians everywhere have been looking to live streaming as a possible alternative to performing live.
Live performance has been a mainstay and a dominant source of income for many musicians, and never have we seen an all-pervasive force shut it all down in a matter of weeks.
But if you’re looking to live stream, and want to make the most of the opportunity, here are some tips that will help.
Determine What Platform to Stream on
There are plenty of platforms to choose from, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Periscope, Twitch, StageIt, Zoom, Concert Window or other.
For many artists, this will be a simple decision revolving around which platform they have the biggest following on, and where they get the most engagement.
To me, the second piece is far more important, as a disengaged viewer base isn’t going to do much for you. Better to go where fans are more likely to like, comment, share and tip.
If, however, you’re in any doubt as to which platform to utilize, there are a few things you can do.
#1: You Can Ask/Survey Your Fans
If you’ve already got an email list, or a sizable social media following, you can ask your fans where they’d like you to stream. Their answers might just surprise you and may even lead you to new platforms you weren’t aware of.
Not to say that your fans are always right, but if it seems like most of them are leaning one way, you may as well cater to their inclinations.
#2: You Can Experiment
This is more of a trial and error approach than anything, but if you’ve got the time, patience and willingness to explore your options, there’s no reason not to experiment.
As you’re experimenting, keep an eye on which platforms help you get the greatest reach and engagement overall. Then, you can home in on the one that gives you the greatest ROI.
#3: You Can Take a Data-Based Approach
Music Entrepreneur News recently reported on some stats via Bandsintown that give you a good sense of how fans feel about live streaming.
Bandsintown found that the top three most favored streaming platforms were YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, in that order.
So, you could always plan your activity around this data.
Prepare Your Stage (Room)
Choose what room to live stream from and make sure the surroundings are conducive for your performance.
I’m not going to tell you to whether to clean up or organize, as that may be a matter of branding more than anything. If your brand would be enhanced by playing in dark, dank, messy basements, then do that. If a neat, clean environment is going to make the best impression on your fans, then do that instead.
Either way, it’s a good idea to prepare your stage before you go live. Make sure you’ve got the space required to be able to comfortably sing and play your instrument, and don’t forget to find a comfy chair if you’re going to be sitting.
Figure Out the Technology
You can pull out your smartphone and start live streaming right away. Having said that, there are some things you should be mindful of.
First, you may want to use a proper tripod so you can set your camera at the right height and angle. There are good and bad angles when it comes to filming.
Second, it’s not a bad idea to have a separate device for monitoring and answering comments while live streaming. Good interaction is going to ramp up your engagement.
Third, you may want to use a lighting kit, so your videos look more professional. This is not mandatory by any means. But if you’d like to create a better viewing experience, it’s worth thinking about.
Monetize Your Live Streams
Streaming platforms like YouTube and Concert Window make it easy for fans to tip your performance. The easier, the better, as we don’t want to assume any level of technical proficiency from fans.
And, if you aren’t using a platform that has built-in tipping, you can still take advantage of services like PayPal and set up your unique PayPal.Me link.
Tips, however, are but the tip of the iceberg (pun intended).
You could ask viewers to become a patron on Patreon, pre-order your next album, contribute to your crowdfunding campaign, buy your new T-shirt or otherwise.
Of course, in these uncertain times, it’s a good idea to be sensitive to others and their willingness to spend. You don’t want to be overly promotional, but you also don’t want to leave money on the table.
Promote Your Performances
You can promote your performances using all the channels you normally would, including:
- Word of mouth
- Posters/graphical assets
- Direct mail
- Your website
- Your email list
- Social media
If no one knows that you’re going to be streaming, or if you just post about it once the moment you go live, you’re unlikely to attract much of an audience.
So, take some time to plan this out.
Consider where your fans are, and live stream at times they are likely to be awake and available. You can easily cater to fans across the world assuming you don’t mind late nights and/or early mornings.
Connect with Your Audience
Being timely and relevant is critical to connecting with your audience.
As I write this, the COVID-19 scare continues, as people isolate and social distance.
By no means is this going to last, so the key point here is to connect with your fans and tailor your messaging to them.
Presently, a lot of people are scared, anxious, frustrated, bored or otherwise. If you can lift their spirits through your music and banter, you’ll connect with them more readily.
Of course, you can also be polarizing and controversial. Ultimately, it will have the same effect of attracting viewers, even if you do alienate some.
Again, this mostly depends on your brand. If it would be off brand for you to be controversial, don’t be.
Generally, be personable and interactive. Answer fan comments. Mention them by name. Send “thank you” notes after the fact. People are starved for connection right now.
Pay it Forward
It’s no secret that one of the keys to success on social media is being social.
When you interact with others, people notice you more. When you add value to them, they begin to see you as a leader or an expert in your field.
So, if you’ve got time on your hands, why not check out other live streamed concerts. Like, comment and share. Tip the musicians you like. Pay it forward.
And, if I were you, I would steal ideas from the best streams I found, too.
Repurpose Your Content
It’s easy to think of a live stream as a one-time event, just as a typical gig would be. But unlike a live performance, your live streams can have a second and even third life.
With most platforms, you should be able to download your live streamed video, edit it (if you wish) and share it out everywhere.
One live stream could easily turn into 12 videos (i.e. 12 songs), for instance.
I used to – and still do – do this very thing. Last year, I did a lot of Facebook Lives with my community project, Your Music Matters.
I took the live streamed videos, edited them, put them up on YouTube and even shared them on Blogger.
I plan to take clips from those videos and upload them to Music Entrepreneur HQ as well.
Whether you do any of this comes down to your brand and strategy, but I thought you might like to know that it’s possible to do more with less.
Final Thoughts on Live Streaming Concerts
If, for whatever reason, you’re uncomfortable with live streaming, but would still like to connect with your fans using the video medium, keep in mind that you can pre-record and edit an entire performance and live stream that!
Plus, you can still interact with fans in the comments. After all, your hands will be free the entire time, so typing up a few responses shouldn’t prove problematic.
Just remember to let your fans know when you’re live streaming pre-recorded content.
I wish you all the best in your live streaming efforts.
Is there anything else I should have addressed here?
Do you have any lingering comments regarding live streaming?
Let me know in the comments below.