If you’re like most musicians, gigs are your lifeblood. But when you can’t connect with your audience in person, livestreaming is your best opportunity to gain new fans and generate income while building momentum for your next show.
Livestreaming lets you provide a casual, intimate experience that offers a deeper connection to your fans. It’s also a great way to share new content, such as acoustic sets, Q&A sessions and glimpses behind-the-scenes. The world’s biggest stars have embraced livestreaming, whether it’s Keith Urban performing from his basement on Instagram or Andrea Bocelli live-streaming a solo Easter concert from Milan’s empty Duomo cathedral to 5 million people around the globe.
You might think you need a lot of gear and production experience to livestream, but the great news is, livestreaming can be done by anyone, just about anywhere there’s a web connection. In fact, you’re likely holding everything you need to get started in your hand right now. By following these simple tips, you’ll be on your way to producing a professional-quality event that will thrill your fans and keep them coming back for more.
1. SAY BYE TO BUILT-IN MICS
Yes, you can capture audio with your laptop or phone microphone, but if you’re a musician, chances are you’re aiming for better sound quality. Just about any standalone microphone will out-perform the mics built into your devices, and you can even capture professional sound with a single mic if you choose wisely. The fastest and least complicated way to get better sound when you are livestreaming is to adopt a versatile USB microphone like the AKG Lyra, which plugs right into your computer (or mobile device with an adapter) and lets you adjust its focus to capture a single performer, duets or groups. (And, its retro-futuristic styling looks fantastic on camera.)
For more advanced productions, you’ll want to send your audio into encoding software, which will then feed it to your streaming platform of choice. (Open Broadcaster Software is a free, open-source application that can handle this step for you; it even has a configuration wizard that will walk you through the process.)
If you’re already using your computer for home recording, you can send audio from your workstation output, from an interface or from a mixer with a USB connection to your computer. If you like having the functionality of a desktop mixer, Soundcraft Notepad series or Signature MTK consoles combine pro-grade analog components with a USB audio interface and include effects that’ll help you sound your best. Using an audio mixer/interface also gives you the benefit of being able to take advantage of multiple inputs for direct signals or discrete microphones, which gives you further control over your sound.
Now that we’ve covered some basics for improved sound quality, let’s cover some other tips for making your livestreams their best.
2. THINK BEYOND THE BAR GIG
Your fans love you for your music, but you don’t have to limit yourself to just your music. Streaming events are opportunities to really get creative, find ways to build engagement with your audience, and explore new content ideas: Invite your fans behind the scenes for a studio tour; host a Q&A, a masterclass or a DJ set.
3. BE YOUR OWN PR AGENT
Create an event landing page on your website or social account and share it with your fans. This is a chance to cast a wide net—think global, not local. In your communication, share a link to the page, and talk about the music you’ll be playing, topics you’ll be discussing, etc. Engage your audience by asking people to submit song requests and questions ahead of time. If you’re using a website landing page, don’t forget to collect email addresses, and if you’re on social media remember to ask for likes and follows, so you can keep your new fans informed.
4. BRING IN A PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
Your livestreaming setup can be as simple as a phone and an internet connection, or it can be a complex operation combining multiple cameras and microphones. It’s always best to start simple, and scale up your show as you gain skills.
You can certainly stream a solo performance yourself without help, but you can pull off more sophisticated scenarios if you have an extra hand. Enlisting a friend or family member to handle tasks like fielding comments and mixing sound lets you keep your focus on nailing your performance.
Because there will a slight delay between your live performance and the streamed signal, it’s best to have your assistant monitor your show feed with closed-back, over-ear headphones like AKG 371-BTs, which will block out a lot of the sound in the room while providing wireless freedom of movement via Bluetooth.
5. CHANNEL YOUR INNER SET DESIGNER
Creating visual interest is key to getting fans’ attention and keeping them engaged. Time for an extreme home makeover! Make sure the room you choose is well lit and free of visual obstructions and distractions. Set up bright, even lighting, especially on your face (a ring light provides uniform, shadow-free illumination), and run tests to make sure that dramatic lighting translates well on camera.
6. BANISH BAD ACOUSTICS
Choose a home “stage” that has decent acoustics. Empty rooms and rooms with hard surfaces in them generate lots of echo—which might feel fun to perform in, but will make your streamed show sound like mud. Make a test recording in your space; if you hear echoes, squash them where they start by breaking up hard surfaces in your room with soft fixtures. For a simple yet effective way to deaden your space, try bringing in curtains, wall hangings, an area rug, or even a large plant. (Bonus: Adding décor will only enhance the vibe.)
7. PERFORM LIKE A PRO
Always do a run-through before you go live: Check everything, from your internet speed to your camera settings to your mic stand. Create a loose script or set list that will provide structure, and consider putting up a title slide or video preroll to give viewers time to tune in, and to give you a small buffer. Then, it’s showtime! Perform directly into the camera lens, and remember to make your audience feel like part of the action by responding to comments and giving shout-outs. There’s a fine line between being engaging and rambling; stay focused and keep things tight.
8. ASK FOR TIPS, BUT ASK NICELY
While platforms such as SoundStage and StageIt offer built-in ticketing, if you’re just getting started, consider making payment voluntary. Many streaming services have built-in tipping features; you can also point fans to popular platforms like Venmo, PayPal and Buy Me a Coffee. Don’t forget to share links to your website and merch pages, and remind people about them during your show.
9. TREAT EVERY END AS A NEW BEGINNING
Take advantage of the momentum you just started with your event: Immediately afterward, take time to respond to fan comments and review feedback. Share your recorded stream with your fans; include a call to action to subscribe, check out merch or preview new tracks.
Then comes the awkward part: Sit down and watch your performance with a critical eye, noting what worked and what didn’t. Review audience analytics, such as how long viewers tuned in and when they dropped off, and use everything you’ve learned to hatch a plan for putting on an even more amazing show next time.
BONUS: WE WANT TO SEE YOU
Nothing makes us happier at HARMAN than to see people succeeding with our products. So when you’re using our gear, please do give AKG, JBL or Soundcraft a shout out on social or use the hashtags #RecordedWithAKG or #MixedOnJBL.
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