There are so many way to communicate with audiences these days, and so many tools at our fingertips, it can feel overwhelming to choose the best ones to focus on. There’s one thing in particular though that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough despite its immense power. That is: live streaming.
In recent years especially, live streaming has become a powerful tool to connect with fans, reaching them wherever they are in the world. This has allowed performers to supplement their touring, or replace in-person events altogether.
Your options for livestreaming platforms include:
And by using a service like Restream, you can even go live to multiple platforms at once.
But if artists have so many opportunities to directly reach and engage viewers, and even build a loyal fanbase, where should you begin? If you’re new to livestreaming or need a refresher, check out our tips below.
Understanding the platforms
There are a lot of options out there for you, all of them different depending on your needs. One of the most important considerations is: where is your audience likely to be already? We listened some of the dominant social and livestreaming platforms above, each with unique benefits and features. But you’ll also see some alternative platforms like StageIt which offers the benefit of selling tickets to your shows. Or Volume.com which gives artists 95% of the tips they collect, along with Fan Subscriptions and Ticketed livestreams, which ends up being a really good way to make a little extra money off your shows, while also collecting fan data and (in Volume’s case) entering you for additional perks like the chance to play major festivals and other opportunities.
It’s not just about livestream concerts
When you livestream there are SO many options at your fingertips. It’s not just about putting on a great concert, which you can (and should!) do. There are so many other options like….what kind of live performance? Full band? Acoustic? Piano driven? What about a Q&A session where fans can ask you questions? Or host a panel with other musicians and friends. Then there’s behind the scenes streams, maybe an hour a week where you invite fans to “write” with you virtually, or you take them behind the scenes of making a video. You can even do virtual meet and greets!
You can actually make money off your livestreams
Yes, it’s true! You can monetize your livestreams through virtual tip jars that allow fans to show their appreciation for you, selling tickets or exclusive VIP bundles, selling merch (including exclusive merch you can only get on the LiveStream), and eventually sponsorship and/or ads! Some platforms even have a built in currency for tipping, such as bits (Twitch) and Stars (Facebook).
The cool thing about livestreams is how similar they are to in-person shows in that way. You can still provide all the benefits of those shows, like the tip jar or the exclusive merch, but do it in a way that allows you to reach more people
Try out the different ways according to what feels most aligned with your brand and the stage of your career you’re at. You can always mix and match, trade one for the other, and just see what works.
Get out of your living room
Speaking of the differences between in person and virtual shows, just because it’s virtual doesn’t mean it should always be in your living room. While it might not make sense to rent out a music venue for a completely virtual show, you want to keep things interesting by changing up your space. Even if it’s rotating which band member’s house you perform in, doing an acoustic set in your backyard or the park, or spending a little to rent a small studio for a very special performance, keeping your setting interesting is a key part of keeping your audience’s attention.
Show your fans they matter
A live stream isn’t the same as an in person event, and you have to make up for a bit of that interaction that you’d normally get in person ,which means paying extra attention to your fans both before, during, and after the event.
A simple way to do this is to thank your fans for coming, and reply to any comments they’re leaving both during and after the livestream. You can also share the replays so fans who missed it can still watch (maybe even share with their friends) and tease future livestream content as a way to keep them interested and coming back for the next one
Don’t be afraid to experiment
Live Streaming is an ever evolving thing and what’s working for you this month might change in 3 months—that’s part of the fun! We saw enormous growth for live streams during the pandemic and we found what worked then doesn’t necessarily work years later when shows are back on. So it’s a constant game of experimentation but that just means listening to fans, playing around with what you offer, and finding the sweet spot.
Live Streaming offers indie artists a unique opportunity to connect and engage with fans in a completely new way; it’s an opportunity to thrive in an online space. By selecting the right platform for you and your fans and creating consistent, exciting content you’ll see the power of livestream in growing your career and cultivating a truly loyal and excited fanbase.
Angela Tyler is the founder of MP Co. (formerly Muddy Paw PR) and has secured placements on Forbes, American Songwriter, Lead Singer Syndrome, & more. She loves dessert, her dog Sawyer, and new music—feel free to send her yours!