If you’re itching to get back to touring and playing regular local concerts, you’re not alone. The scope and complexity of the pandemic has upended the live event industry like never before, and countless musicians are finding themselves adrift and not sure what to do. Livestreaming your performances can’t fill the massive hole left by the absence of conventional in-person concerts. However, there are some huge benefits to making digital performances a regular part of your life as a musician; benefits that will outlast the pandemic. Here are three important ones to consider:
After streaming your first concert, you’ll probably be impressed by the number of fans you were able to reach that wouldn’t have been able to attend your normal shows. Livestreaming music performances breaks down barriers like physical distance, age, and cost if your digital shows are affordable or donation only. This limitless reach allows you to connect with existing fans and find new ones in a powerful way. During the unprecedented time we’re all facing, livestreaming has been a lifeline not just for musicians, but also for music fans who are desperate for live music experiences. But whenever live concerts return livestreaming will continue to bridge the divide between musicians and their fans. Paired with conventional shows, livestreaming is a great way to play in front of as many people as possible while promoting new music. Rather than seeing livestreams as a replacement for normal shows, they’re great for reaching audiences that can’t see you play in person.
An intimate performance format
If you’re accustomed to playing on big stages, there’s an intimacy that gets lost between you and your fans. Livestreams are odd because there’s an inherent distance between you and the audience, yet it’s a format that generates meaningful and close connections between performers and fans. It allows you to not only interact with the audience directly and clearly, but is best suited for musicians who talk between songs and share stories. In a tech-driven music culture that’s making it harder for fans and musicians to meaningfully connect, this intimacy is a big deal, and it’s often impossible to replicate during conventional shows. For musicians looking for ways to link their music with their unique personalities, live streaming is a great way to go.
A sustainable way to build your audience
For the vast majority of unestablished bands, touring is a massive investment not just in terms of time, but also money. If you haven’t found your audience, you and your bandmates will have to take weeks or months off of your non-musical jobs each time you want to head out on tours that may not even break even on financially. From performance experience to exposure to industry connections, touring delivers huge benefits to developing artists, but it’s often an unstainable pursuit for musicians. Livestreaming might not deliver these same benefits, but it is an inexpensive and sustainable way to build your audience from home. With a modest investment in sound and video equipment, you can produce professional digital concerts on your own schedule while you make music and build your audience at home with local in-person shows. If you’re serious about pursuing music seriously, you’ll have to do it sustainably. Performing regular livestreams as part of your overall strategy is a great way to stay connected with fans without having to miss paychecks, fill up your van’s gas tank with your credit card, and spend weeks or months at a time away from home. And since today’s audiences are hungrier than ever for new music, this strategy is ideal for staying sharp and active with digital concerts while writing and recording music from your home studio. Being on the road makes it difficult or even impossible to write new music, but live streaming at home gives you the time and resources to stay creatively active and engaged.
Livestreaming can’t and shouldn’t replace the magic of playing on stage in front of people. But not pursuing digital concerts means missing out on huge opportunities to connect with audiences. For artists willing to give them a shot, these online performance formats can absolutely be special experiences for music fans.
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.