With the future of live gigs still uncertain, musicians need a way to keep fans engaged and tuning in. One of the best ways to do this is to set up a live stream gig from home. But this is easier said than done: with so much more online content to choose from now, fans will quickly tune out if the audio is bad quality or the set-up is uninspiring.
So here’s an easy three step guide to making it the best experience for you and your fans:
Start with the best audio quality
A few simple upgrades can transform your sound. First, start by investing in a proper microphone. Specifically, a proper USB microphone, like the Rodes NT-USB, which plugs straight into any computer avoiding any need for a complicated set-up.
If you have multiple people playing, each instrument will ideally have its own microphone, which will need to plug into an interface. The Shure SM57 for instruments and Shure SM7B for vocals have been studio favourites for decades. If using multiple microphones, you’ll need an audio interface to plug the mics into. An audio interface will convert your audio into a language the computer can understand. Check out the SSL 2 that gives you studio console quality at home.
When broadcasting your stream from your phone you may have more limitations to what kind of microphone or interface you can connect to it. The best option here is to plug in an external phone microphone which is far superior to the one on your phone.
A reflection filter is another essential piece of kit. It will kill the unnecessary echoes in the room as your voice bounces off the walls. Pop this behind your microphone and your vocals will sound more intimate and clear to the listener.
Next, get the vibe right
Improving the acoustics of the room can make a big difference in sound quality. Hard surfaces like wood, tile, concrete will mean the sound will bounce around and make things sound ‘muddy’. Pick a room with carpeting, curtains or blinds to block out the outside world. This will give you a cleaner sound.
Transform your room into atmospheric live music venue with a few simple additions. Lower the lights for a dramatic look. Wrap fairy lights around your mic stand, show off your gear by bringing it into shot, display your band’s logo behind you.
Make sure your face, shoulders and instruments are in shot. Haim performing NPR’s Tiny Desk from home is an example of a great shot set up.
If you’re really ambitious and your extension cables can stretch that far, Twenty One Pilots had a beautiful set up in their garden.
Phoebe Bridgers recently beamed live directly from the White House. How? Using a clever greenscreen. If you are broadcasting over Zoom, enable a creative background for one or two songs to mix it up.
If you are pre-recording the concert, you can set-up multiple cameras. Point a Go-Pro on the drummer or even on the snare for a creative shot of the beat. Cheap and cheerful iPhone tripods can be angled to film your side so you can cut between shots and bring some variety to the performance which fans will appreciate.
Finally, tell everyone you know
Once you’ve nailed the audio and room set up, the final decision is which channel you want to broadcast from. You should consider who you want to reach and what kind of vibe you’re aiming for.
Facebook’s Creators United: You can curate your own festival line-up by connecting with other artists on the Creators United Facebook Page.
Instagram: It’s popular and your network is notified when you go live. It also allows you to see reactions, comments and requests in real time.
La blogotheque have been streaming gigs featuring two new artists every Tuesday. Those of an indie, pop, and folk way will be right at home on this channel.
Spotify: You can now promote virtual events uploaded through Songkick, the live stream concert discovery app, will automatically show up on your artist profile and in the Concerts hub. You can even reach more listeners by setting it as your Artist Pick
Just like you would for a regular gig at a venue, your live-streamed gig will need promotion. By giving a few weeks of lead time, you can create a poster for the gig (Canva.com has some great free templates) and promote it across your personal or band social media pages. Don’t bury the link to join the gig live- make it as straight forward as possible to join.
Music press have shifted to promoting live-streamed events so it’s worth sending out details to the media. Contact your local paper and your favourite blogs and websites. All music news websites have a ‘contact us page.’ Don’t forget to include the basic details: who, what, when why and where. Check out our Guide to Pitching To The Press for more on that.
We know how much our artists around the world are itching to get back out there and play in real life to fans, but until then, just focus on how many more fans around the world you could potentially reach by switching your live show to a live stream. We’ll all be back in a sweaty mosh pit soon <3