There’s no getting around the fact that live-stream concerts aren’t suitable replacements for the in-person shows. But that doesn’t mean that digital concerts have to be boring, bad-sounding affairs. During a time when the world craves musical connection and comfort, live-streamed musical performances are a lifeline for fans as well as musicians needing to stay in touch with fans and make up for lost revenues. However, it’s clear that some major pop stars and unestablished acts alike are having a tricky time making the leap from conventional shows to digital ones. Similar to normal shows, live-streams need to offer something engaging and exciting for audiences to feel invested. Here are a few strategies for transforming digital concerts into events that fans will be excited about:
Focus on delivering professional sound
Your show could feature a stellar performance, but no one will care if the sound is bad. Singing along to a backing track into the mic on your laptop is definitely the easy way of doing things. However, it will result in unclear audio that poorly represents your music. With some basic equipment and a little planning, you’ll be able to deliver great sound for your digital performances. Take practicing and preparation just as seriously as you would any other show. It’s important to keep other factors in mind that you wouldn’t have to worry about at venues, like making sure your internet connection is solid, reducing background noise, and determining whether you’ll mix your own sound or have someone else do it. And be sure to turn the notifications off of your devices!
Ditch the couch and sweatpants
It’s remarkably easy to roll out of bed and live-stream performances straight from your couch. But while this schtick can be pulled off by some musicians, it won’t work for most of us. Presentation is important for digital concerts, so what you wear and the setting you perform in matters. You might be confined to playing wherever you have an internet connection. Yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t perform in a clean, visually compelling setting. Also, keep in mind that digital concerts aren’t in-person shows. Things like eye contact and speaking with your audience are important. If you try to play like you’re up on a big stage, it might come off as forced, awkward, and ingenuine.
Get creative with visuals
One of the most effective ways to make your digital concerts exciting is by investing in visuals. Lighting, set design, what you wear, and where you play matters. For some artists, it could be as simple as playing in front of strung up Christmas lights. Others will benefit from consulting with the artists they work with to create engaging visuals. But whatever direction you take, it’s important that you put at least a little thought into your visuals, especially when it comes to lighting. You might not realize it, but there’s probably something interesting about the place you live, whether it’s an old room in your house or a lush forest pressed up against your backyard. If creating interesting visuals isn’t in your wheelhouse, find a unique setting to perform in instead.
Promote digital concerts as passionately as you would for any other show
If you want your fans to get excited about your live-streams, promote them in earnest. You’ll need to utilize the same digital promotion tools you’d normally use to get the word out about conventional shows. This can be via social media, your website, email list, etc. To get your audience engaged, consider announcing news during your event, or adding in a special performance like a surprise collaboration or cover. Also, think about enlisting either an opener or headliner to help bring more promotional power and value to the event. Typical shows feature openers, so digital concerts shouldn’t be any different.
Digital shows and in-person ones are pretty much the same when it comes to planning. If you want to pull off a great live-stream event, plan ahead, put in the work, and follow-through by prioritizing the stuff that makes you and your music special.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.