How to improve streaming gigs at extremely low cost
With the global lockdown keeping people at home many businesses and entrepreneurs have been going exclusively online. The music industry is no exception, artists have been flocking to the various streaming platforms to get their music out there.
Many streams that I have seen are lacking in both structure and production quality. You’re here to find out how to make your stream more engaging, so let’s get into that.
A livestream is just like a gig, no-one wants to sit around while you’re grabbing a coffee or tuning guitars, it’s just boring. Attention spans are pretty damn short these days, if nothing is happening on your stream, there’s another one just a click away.
So, how can you keep those folks engaged? Simple, plan it out. Like any good story, it has beginning, middle and end.
You are a musician, but now you can engage the audience in between songs to help with creating affinity. If you’re looking for some tips on storytelling, have a look into the hero’s journey, this is essentially the framework that Hollywood uses in all your favourite films.
When you weave a narrative into the livestream, people will stay to find out the next part of the story, whilst being entertained by your music. Think about it, when you’re watching a series and it goes to an ad break the writers often leave you on a cliff-hanger, yes, it’s a small one, but it’s there.
If you’re interested in seeing how the heroes journey would be weaved into a livestream, leave a comment below and I’ll write it out for you.
You also have to plan out the physical side of the show. Is there anyone coming
on/off ‘stage’. Is the camera fixed or will someone be moving it around whilst you’re playing? If there is a camera operator then it’s a good idea for the cameraman to know the songs well. This means that if there‘s an extended guitar solo they are not stuck on your face wondering when you’re going to start singing again .
Rehearse the show from start to end.
Know exactly what you’re going to say.
Have a spare instrument in case something happens.
If you’re not great with the words….
If you’re likely to forget what you say, rehearsing the parts in between the music will help. Have a look at this article to help with preparation. Also, you can get some help from
a teleprompter, you’d be surprised how many people use them, many, many youtubers use them. They’re not too pricey and can be picked up from Amazon. If you’re not good at interacting with audiences in between songs then it’s time you get over that. Taking into account human psychology let’s imagine a situation.
You’ve just walked into a room, it’s a party. As you look at the room there’s a group of people on the right side chatting and enjoying themselves. On the left side there are 4 people, standing at an awkward distance (remember, this is fictional, social distancing doesn’t exist, before all you funny people point that out) from each other, not quite in each other’s personal space, they are either looking at their devices or staring, awkwardly at the floor.
Where are you going to go? Right toward the ‘fun group’ or left toward the ‘awkward group’. Yeah, sure some will go to the left, but, you can bet your ass that most people will be attracted to the right.
Now, let’s look at this from an online streaming perspective, if your stream has tumbleweed and crickets people will go where there’s more action. If they’re engaged they’re staying.
If you think that you just can’t talk between songs, you’re wrong, message me, I’ll send you a link to a free mindset course. It’s your brain and your life, only you can change it.
Remember to include a call to action in the stream:
1. Follow on Spotify
2. Email Signup
3. Follow Socials
4. Share the live stream 5. Enter a compeition
Letting people know that you’re going live on a certain date is critical to getting more people on the stream. The platforms algorithm will be looking at your stream when it goes live to asses how popular it might be. Always remember this: It’s a social medias platforms job to make sure that users are finding things that are interesting to them… Why?
Because…. Advertising. (= cash)
Decide on your goal, why are you doing the live stream? Announcing a gig, releasing a new single? Give-away? Think about why people might want to watch. Let’s face it, there are a lot of streams happening right now and some audience members are a little jaded by them
Think about what would be a hook to get them on board.
If you’re into cerebral type marketing tactics you might look up one of these techniques to
‘hack’ your potential watchers brain:
Cognitive dissonance, Foot in the door technique, social pressure, norm of reciprocity, in- group favoritism, heuristic evaluation & anchoring. I’ll be writing about these things in the future, so look out for that.
How to ‘beat’ the algorithm or at least stack the cards in your favor is to make sure that as many people log onto the stream, share it (if applicable on the platform) and comment as soon as possible. This will indicate to the platform that it is content that is interesting, so to be shared out to a wider audience.
If you have to line up friends and family or your email subscriber list to be on there then do it! It’ll help you a lot.
Poor production quality will reflect poorly on your music. In 2020 viewers are used to quality, make sure that you’re not standing out because yours is rubbish. If you only have the inbuilt mic in the phone to use, make sure the room has as few echoes as possible. Hang a duvet, blanket or coat in the room to cover the walls and minimise the echo. It can be really distracting to hear on the other end of the line. remember, people will click away if you give them any excuse.
Test the sound, get it as good as possible. Experiment with the right distance from your mouth to get the balance between you and the instruments.
If you want to supercharge your sound, look into getting an interface for your phone. You can get them for both android and iOS which have various amount of inputs.
One of the most distracting visual elements is when the picture changes from light to dark (exposure) or the colours shift (white balance) during the stream.
To stop this from happening put the camera into manual mode, that way it won’t try and change those important settings whilst you’re streaming. It’ll immediately increase the production value of the stream.
Be aware of what is behind you in the shot, does it look nice? If you have a stain on the wall from that time you threw a slice of pizza at your friend, clean that off. Lock down pizza boxes everywhere? Recycle that stuff.
Get as far away as you can from the back of the room, it gives a nice depth to the image. Clean up, both the room and your face!
One of my favourite topics, lighting is the (widely known) secret to making an image look great. I can’t stress this enough, it’s not the camera, it’s the light, a simple change to the lighting will make more difference than spending €3k on a camera. How do I know this? I do a lot of live music videos, so just trust me!
Scenario 1: Daytime, no articial light
Getting the best possible image is simple. Put the camera as close to the largest window you have looking in toward the room, then frame yourself in the camera. Congratulations, you look better!
Viewers want to see your face so don’t stand too far away from the camera, ensure the camera is level with your face, no-one likes to look up peoples noses!
If you’re looking to improve on that there’s 2 things you can do.
1. Cover the window with a frosted shower curtain or white baking paper . You’ll need one like this, don’t use a see-through one. The shower curtain and baking paper act like a giant soft box.
2. If you’re looking for more of the beauty look, place something white and flat below your face (out of camera frame), you’ll have to play around with its position to get the best result. This will lift the skin and make you look younger. If you’re having trouble seeing what the white surface does put at your chest height and watch the shadow lift from your neck.
Scenario 2: Indoors, no sunlight.
Assuming that you have an overhead light or spotlight this becomes more difficult to make look good. The best thing to do is to have it positioned in front of you, hang up a shower curtain to act as diffusion to flatten out the image. The best thing to do is to experiment with the position of you, the camera and light source.
Since every room is unique experimentation is the best way to understand how to make it look as good as possible.
Scenario 3: Outdoors
If it’s a cloudy day and there’s no direct sunlight you’re going to pretty much be able to point the camera anywhere and it’ll be OK. However, if there’s any sun poking through at any point it’s pretty much essential to have your back to the sun. Cameras can’t really deal with the amount of contrast and shadow the sun creates on a face.
Alternatively, find some shade, that might be from a tree, building or from a 5-in-1 reflector.
For more advanced lighting techniques look out for more information from me soon.
Another (very well-known secret) is backlighting. If you can introduce this element it separates you from the back ground which helps improve the image. You can use lamps, christmas tree lights or a window (that doesn’t appear in the frame).
Test, test, test & then practise.
To ensure that your audience has a good experience make sure that you test all aspects of the stream before going live. Does the sound work as you expect, is the camera setup correctly?
Setup a test streaming account to test freely without anyone getting notified of a stream
Here’s a handy list of things to check
Audio – Does it sound good? Is it at the right level and not distorted.
Camera – Are the settings correct? Exposure and white balance? Manual mode.
Lighting – Can the viewer see you properly? Is the light balanced in the room?
Do you know what you will be saying during the stream? Especially the beginning and end? Are you going to be asking the viewer to do anything during the show?
Have you got your setlist and prompts ready (if needed)
Is it worth spending money on advertising the stream? That really is a question that only you can answer, you really have to look at what your goal is to effectively realise the answer. Are you pushing for label attention? Are you looking to build your email list? Are you looking just for a bit of fun?
As with everything, when you understand your ‘why’ you can make decisions that shape your future.
I would say, if it were me, I would be advertising to my page likes and their friends. But, the image and text for the ad HAS to be of interest. If I were a band with humour, I’d be mentioning that one of the band member will be playing one of the songs on a crazy instrument (say banjo), have a picture of him dressed up as a hillbilly on the advert to attract attention.
Getting effective with your advertising is another days work, but… make sure you test a few different adverts (A/B testing) to find out which is most effective so you can run with that one.
Don’t worry, I’ll be getting into that in more detail soon as well.
After you have performed your stream it’s time to look at the analytics. Was there any point that a lot of people dropped off? If so, why, change that part of the stream next time.
Some word of encouragement
Building an audience takes a long-time. You live in a time where that building is faster than ever, so that’s a great thing.
But, we’re creative types, it can be extremely dis-heartening when putting yourself out there and nothing comes back, or worse, a load of hate.
It’ll help you to remember that people lash out for so many reasons, it‘s just probably likely that you were in front of them when they wanted another go. They might be jealous that you are out there doing what you have always wanted, and they are stuck. You just don’t
know. Protect your own passion and mind at all costs. What-ever that looks like, walks, listening to music or spending time with friends.
You are the sum of those closest to you. make sure they are on your side and encourage you.
Questions? Ask mean anything in the comments.
Find out more about what we do here
http://liveperformancevideo.com – Video Production
http://deccibel.com – Marketing
decciBl is a Music Marketing company bourne out of frustration with the way that many artists/band promote themselves online, guilty of this ourselves by not properly promoting music in the past, not getting the proper assets in place and lacking a marketing strategy. It was clear after working with Musicians over the years that this is a point of concern for many artists.
The company was started in 2019 by Robin Ball, the focus is on educating Artists and Bands on the benefit of having a Digital Presence that is wholly owned by them, instead of using properties that are not owned by the Artist. Robin has 22 years experience in the Music Industry on the Artist side, starting as a Drummer and moving into the studio later on. Training in both School of Audio Engineering, London and Berklee College of Music, Boston. Seeing the landscape for Digital Marketing develop Robin went back to College to study more formally and employ the strategies to the Music Industry.
Focusing heavily on the technology side of Marketing, with a desire to help musicians realise that email marketing is still by far the most successful way to get their message across. Also, helping artists develop a brand and voice to be able to be more consistent in online communication. Offering free email courses to Students to help them realise the potential that they have is high on the list of importance.
The learning platform is being developed to encompass courses of all types that focus on Marketing, Mindset and Production. During various iterations of the main course ‘The System’ it was clear that decciBel needed to help motivate artists through the entire process, the course now has a new first module – Mindset. With that realised we have needed to do research into how the mind works and how that Musicians can use techniques to overcome barriers and blocks to all manner of issues, they might have.
decciBel is fully committed to helping Musicians, from all genres and backgrounds, put their best foot forward in a changing digital landscape.