Behind the scenes: Setting up a successful livestream

More and more musicians are using live streaming to reach out to their fans. It is simple and inexpensive. Grab your phone and log in to Facebook. Then press the button.

This is what many artists do right now. It results in an abundance of online “noise.” At the same, people are online at home and looking for ways to escape cabin fever and lift their spirits.

Live streaming is a way to reach out to your fans and promote your music. It is a great way for my husband, Tyler Kealey, to strengthen his relationship with fans. It has also allowed me to continue playing and performing, which brings a little bit of normality to my weeks.

This is a new area for many musicians (and their fans!) I wanted to share some tips that we have found useful.

Why livestream?

You can use a live video for a variety of reasons. It is a fantastic way to connect with your fans and boost their spirits. Your relationship will be strengthened when your fans see you performing spontaneously, giving your show a more intimate and personal touch.

You can also give people something to look for when they are unable to leave their homes and have to change their routines. You can catch a livestream from a musician you love and know. You can watch it from the comfort of your home. Sold!

Where to stage a show

You have many options: Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Instagram Live, Twitch, etc.

Instead of trying to work across all platforms, we chose the one where Tyler’s fans are. We then tried this first. Tyler, a pianist and singer, is a full-time working musician. He writes, records, tours, and fills in the gaps by doing cover gigs.

Facebook is the perfect fit for him, as he listens to a lot of older music (Think Elton John and Supertramp). We have used Facebook to communicate and post regularly for many years. It feels familiar. The demographic is right. It made sense to build on this support.

After he gets the hang of performing before a camera, instead of in front of people, he can branch out and try other platforms like Instagram or YouTube to see if there is interest.

How to set up a live stream

You can live stream using a mobile phone, log into Facebook, and hit the “go live” button at your pre-determined time. Do not worry about the sound quality. If you’re used to performing in front of an audience, your listeners will accept these streams as authentic.

Like many musicians, however, you may have some equipment and some technical knowledge. It’s important to experiment to make things sound the best possible. We are always improving (I hope?).

Tyler is currently running a few instruments and microphones through a soundboard. He then plugs the output from the soundboard into his iRig interface, which connects directly to the iPad. The sound can be mixed better so that the audience hears the voice above the piano without distortion.

He tests it before going live by logging in to Facebook and selecting the Live Status option. Then, he can listen, see how it sounds, and adjust it.

We swept up the toys (temporarily) to make the room appear clean. To make the room feel cozier, we added extra lamps and light for a warm glow. We added a few personal details like plants and paintings to create a more intimate atmosphere.

Promote a live-streaming show.

Timing and consistency are key in promoting live shows. We chose to reach out to people using video. A short clip was created and posted on the Facebook fan page and the Instagram account a day before the show.

We also posted a few posts on his Facebook page, which tends to reach a larger audience. We used an image and a video and stated clearly where the stream was to take place. This encouraged people to follow his fan page.

This gives people an advance notice so that they can log in at the appointed time and meet you. Advertisements should not be done too soon or too frequently. A day or two in advance is enough to keep it top of mind.

We start one minute early when it is time to begin. This lets your fans know that you’re ‘live,’ which encourages them to tune in. Tyler will often start a piano medley and improvise rather than wait. He then introduces himself after a few minutes once the audience has begun to gather.

Filming live streams

We set the camera up horizontally rather than vertically to ensure that the visuals are consistent. This will allow the stream to fill the newsfeed, computer screen, and television better. Our iPad was chosen because it has the best-quality image.

We’ve been exploring OBS, the ability to pipe in different scenes and videos from our musician friends.

Tyler will ask questions to the camera during the live stream (your fans will be watching!). This will encourage your viewers to leave comments. Commentaries are gold for a livestream. They help create a community and encourage people to interact.

A lot of comments on your livestream will make it one of your most popular posts, giving you a boost to your fan page.

It’s encouraging to see that so many people are tuning in and making kind comments.

Many of our musicians have a partner who reads out the comments and requests to the performer live. In our case, I keep my two children under control behind the scenes while we set up our camera and go live. Asking for requests in advance and then reading the comments is the best thing we can do.

Perform authentically

The real challenge that those who venture into the live streaming realm face is to play and talk naturally, but essentially to no one. Do it over and over again, and you will get it.

If your kids are interested, you can also involve them in the show. Our 7-year-old has been taking drumming lessons and jamming along with his father. He is excited to play his drum set for a few songs during the show. It’s great to see his friends and teachers tuning in and saying hello.

You can’t put on an error-free, polished performance when your toddler is trying to take the piano. We embrace it, and I like to believe that the chaos is genuine. We all live like this right now. This is the real world.

Will they listen to you?

They will listen if you have a large fan base and promote your stream. To maximize the number who would tune in, we decided that Tyler would perform at the same time each week. We chose the same time as a regular gig Tyler had before the pandemic: Thursdays at 7:30 pm.

He sends them emails to let them know how and when they can watch the live stream.

By playing to them, asking for their requests, and addressing special occasions like birthdays and milestones, we have helped people tune in and stay throughout the entire stream. The support and shares we’ve received have been amazing.

You might be playing for 30 really interested people or 300 curious casual fans. You can continue to play if some people are enjoying the game. You may gain more exposure if people tune in and share your livestream with their friends.

Accepting tips

Do you need to ask for tips or donations of money? Many people are struggling financially, but others want to help local businesses and musicians.

You can address this by leaving a nice comment on your stream, letting interested people know how to donate. Make it optional. Please do not put any pressure on people, but let them know how they can support you. Pin the comment to make it visible during the entire show.

Add a few options to allow people to choose what they prefer. Tyler’s website has a live stream option, a pay-what-you-want store, and e-transfer information.

It’s okay if people can’t tip. It’s also a good idea to ask people to like and share your video.

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