Last year I streamed the Malibu Guitar Festival live as it happened. This was my first introduction to live streaming, and being in a different country there was no way for me to actually attend this festival. It featured some great players like Albert Lee and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the show, even though it was delivered from a simple single webcam and microphone setup. There was still a sense of excitement to see something that was taking place in the present.
What I didn’t know at the time is that online broadcasting is actually available for all artists to exploit. You don’t need to be well known or be booked for a large outdoor festival. You can start broadcasting shows from your living room today and actually make more money than your local pub owner could ever pay you.
There are tons of online services that make the online broadcasting process effortless. An example of such a service is StageIt.com. This service can host your event, sell tickets on your behalf, and then stream your show live to your fans. It’s up to the artist to decide when they want to play, what they want to charge and what type of music they want to play.
Online streaming is a good way of adding a new revenue channel to your live shows. Let’s face it, travel costs aren’t getting cheaper and it’s definitely not easy reaching an international audience base. Online streaming makes this easy, and gives you access to an audience base that your local pub cannot provide.
It’s up to you what type of performance you wish to broadcast. The better your performance, the more likely you are to build up a strong fan base and earn some good revenue from webcasting. You don’t need to stream a public event with an actual audience. There’s nothing wrong with a personal living room show that will allow for close interaction with your fans. In fact, these have in some instances proven more successful for streaming purposes than a public gig.
You have the option of doing a full band or solo performance. If you don’t play in a band, you may consider doing acoustic guitar performances, provided you can sing or know of a vocalist. If you’re already playing in a professional outfit, you may be in a good position to start earning extra revenue right away.
If you want to make the most from your streaming ventures, you will need to play shows on a regular basis. Broadcasting on the same day and time for every performance is essential, and the best way to build up a following. This also allows your fans to better plan their own schedules around your event.
An important point to note is that you don’t need expensive gear to make this work well. As per my previous reference to the Malibu Festival, this relatively “large” event was broadcasted using an average quality camera and a single microphone.
This is all you need to start building a following. Of course, you want to make sure the quality isn’t extremely poor. A good quality HD webcam along with a high quality USB microphone can be picked up for about $100 each.
You should, however, pay attention to detail when positioning your camera and microphone. The camera should be placed in a viewing angle that’s similar to “the best seat in the house”.
You should prioritize sound quality above video quality. If the audio quality from your performance is poor, your audience is likely to leave the event.
This means that you will need to take the necessary time to do a proper sound check and make everything is working prior to the stream. Take the time to test the audio stream on a pair of headphones. Sometimes just placing the microphone in the centre of the room doesn’t produce the best results.
It goes without saying that you should aim for a great guitar sound. If you don’t have a high quality amplifier you may consider running an effects simulation box directly to the mixer.
You should also take the effort to find the best room or venue for hosting your performance. Consider the acoustics of the particular room. A great sounding room can really boost a performance.
If your performances start gaining popularity and your audience base is providing you with enough revenue, you may consider upgrading your equipment in order to deliver the best experience to your fans.
This will entail taking the audio output from an HD mixer as well as using multiple camera angles. Generally such a setup is costly and will need to be operated with the help of third party technical staff.
Although such a setup may be ideal, it is in no way a requirement to be successful with online streaming. In fact, some of the most successful shows have been performed using a simple HD webcam and microphone as with the Malibu Festival.
Dean Hailstone has 20+ years playing experience and has performed in countless live and studio sessions.
You can read more of his posts on PlayGuitarLive.com, a website dedicated to the gigging guitarist.
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