From packed arena tours to modestly attended open mic nights, the ways we used to share musical performances with people were events most of us took for granted. But now that the vast majority of shows have been put on hold, musicians and audiences crave musical connection and meaning through live performances like never before. While digital concerts can’t replace the real thing, they’re your best shot at keeping in touch with fans and maintaining an income through live music right now. These five tips will help yours look and sound professional, and make an impact on your audience.
1. Check your internet connection and turn notifications off
Let’s begin with the easy stuff. You’ll need a strong and uninterrupted internet connection to livestream your performances. A spotty internet signal will result in poor image and sound quality for your shows, or potentially the unintended and premature ending of a performance long before you planned to wrap up. Also, turn off the notifications on your devices. A phone call, for example, can embarrassingly sink your live-stream if you’re recording it on your phone. These are easy problems to solve, but not addressing these live-stream basics can severely impact the quality of your shows.
2. Prioritize delivering professional sound
In today’s music-hungry world, fans will forgive the sound quality of your digital concerts not being up to par. But if you’re serious about making an impact through livestreaming performances, the attention you put into delivering professional sound will go a long way. The mic on your smartphone, tablet, or computer isn’t good enough to present the music you’re playing in a clear and compelling way, and winging it with the bare minimum of sound equipment means that critical parts of your music won’t make it to the speakers of your listeners. But with minimal equipment and a little planning, anyone can live-stream with professional sound.
3. Recognize that you’re not playing on stage
Shredding in your living room isn’t the same as shredding on stage. The livestreaming format is much different than in-person shows, so tailor your performances accordingly. For example, most performers don’t engage with audiences in venues. However, digital concerts are great for answering your fans’ questions, playing their song requests, and speaking with them directly. Although livestreaming is for musicians and audiences who are separated, there’s an inherent intimacy in the nature of these shows. Acting aloof or unavailable won’t help you connect with listeners.
4. Perform in clean, engaging settings
At risk of sounding like your Mom, I need to tell you that no one wants to see your messy room during digital concerts. In fact, no one wants to see your poorly lit or boring space for these kinds of shows either. It doesn’t take much thought or effort to create an interesting setting to perform in. It could be in your backyard, an interesting room in your house, or a backdrop that you dream up yourself. Aim to livestream in settings that reflect and support your identity as an artist.
5. Focus on making your performances special
What makes live music special to you? You might not be able to transport the same energy, theatrics, settings, and surprises that shape the in-person music experiences you love, but trying goes a long way. If your digital concerts can lift spirits and inspire people during this time, your audiences will remember you for it. So whether it’s going the extra mile through an unexpected collaboration, backdrop created by a visual artist, or dramatic announcement shared over livestream, making your digital concerts special is a huge factor in whether these performances will end up being successful or not for you. Just like conventional shows, the more effort and planning you put into digital concerts, the more you and your fans will get out of them.
Like everything in music, it takes practice to get livestreaming right. But those who put in the effort have the chance to earn money and comfort audiences during a challenging time.
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.