It’s a little more than obvious by now that livestream concerts are here to stay. Many artists and music fans spent the past few months trying them out for the first time and quickly realized their value. While nothing can replace the experience of watching musicians perform in person, live streaming delivers important benefits for both artists and audiences that conventional shows can’t, including the opportunity to play/watch concerts anywhere in the world that has a stable internet connection.
However, this doesn’t mean every livestream concert is engaging. There’s a huge difference between a well thought out and produced digital event and a musician streaming a couple of songs over their phone from their living room. If you’re set on getting the most out of your livestreams, you can transform them into exciting events by incorporating these five ideas:
Professional audio, video, and lighting
Let’s kick this off with the most important point. You’re forgiven if sound engineering and videography aren’t your strong suits as a musician. However, with live streaming rapidly becoming much more important for independent musicians, it’s well worth learning how to make your livestreams look and sound great. A modest investment in tools like a mixer and mics, video equipment, and lights will go a long way if you foresee livestreams becoming a serious part of your career moving forward. There’s nothing wrong with live streaming performances on your phone, but professional sound and video will absolutely set you apart and will draw in a larger and more enthusiastic audience.
You might be the most authentic musician planet Earth has ever seen, but no one wants to see you perform live from your dirty bedroom. It often takes hard work and thoughtful creativity, but every musician can live-stream their performances from settings that are interesting and engaging for audiences. You might have to decorate your dorm room or move your internet router to extend coverage to an interesting spot in your backyard, but putting in the effort will help make your digital concert more exciting and professional.
Letting your audience shape your set
The same interactive technology that makes live-streaming possible allows for instant interactions between musicians and audiences. Using these interactions to let your fans shape your set is one way to make your digital shows more engaging and exciting. Whether it’s letting the winner of a contest dictate which order your songs go in or your fans take a vote live on what songs they want to hear next, these interactions are a lot harder to pull off during traditional shows, and they add value and excitement to digital concerts.
Conventional shows and digital concerts are completely different animals. However, many of the same elements that make venue shows and festivals exciting can enhance livestreams in big ways, especially when it comes to surprises. Special guests, unexpected announcements, new song debuts, and production assets like special lighting are all ways to surprise and entertain your audience. Digital concerts can be stale and predictable, or they can be memorable events through the surprises that pop up throughout the show.
Pull out the stops to make it special
If your attitude about live-streams is that they’re poor substitutions for normal concerts and therefore aren’t worth investing in, then the digital concerts you put on probably won’t be that good. But if you realize that livestreams are completely separate events, you’ll begin to see their potential. By going out of your way to make livestreams look, sound, and feel special, you’ll be able to transform digital concerts into the sort of events your fans truly look forward to and remember. The same creative innovating you rely on to make conventional concerts special applies here, though in different ways. Shows that take place on big stages often use theatrics and spectacle to wow audiences, but livestreams are more intimate by nature. This means that making these events special might be a little more challenging for some musicians than others.
It might take some experimentation to find out how to add that special something to your livestreams, but between the limitless reach of these shows and how inexpensive they are to pull off compared to touring, they’re well worth your investment and energy.
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.