Live Streaming for Writing, Speakers, Musicians, and Other Creatives

I’ve used live streaming for a few years.. although, far less than I believe I should have. This is an short overview aimed at musicians but will have relevance to others interested in live streaming as a medium.

I’ve streamed some presentations, some gigs with my band, and a few solo performances. More recently, I several videocast called, “Concerts, Coaching, Coffee, & Conversation.” In these I might talk about a topic or technology, answer questions or allow the introduction of another topic, and play a few songs.

It’s been fun for sure, and I am getting some great feedback and had a few people join my mailing list.

I believe this is a great medium for performers, writers, speakers, and others whose professional direction includes a somewhat personality driven medium – ie: people follow you and your product.

Below are some general lessons and then some technical specifics.

Here are some lessons I am learning and some goals moving forward.

  • Energy is critical, especially when response is hard/impossible to guage.
    This is true for any performer and even a speaker in live situations. When you have a tough room, it can be daunting. And at those times, it is even more critical to increase your energy.With live streaming, the room is tough because you cannot see your audience at all. You don’t know if they are eating lunch and have you muted and are actually just chatting on Facebook. Sure, you get the occasional chat that says, “good tune” or “ha” or “interesting” – but typically, 2 or 3 out of 10 people might make a comment. Are the others sitting there, arms crossed, a dour expression on their face?
  • Don’t script it but some notes might be helpful
    Live streaming is like self-shot TV or radio. You don’t have the crew to play off of – or at least, I and others I know do not. You need to keep things moving. I usually write some notes on a piece of paper, just to look at once in awhile. The truth is, most of the time, I can mostly wing-it.. but the notes have proven helpful in reminding me of ideas I wanted to convey.I also try to jot down 2 or 3 songs that I can choose from.. I more or less decide on the fly which songs to perform unless there is a song with a specific message related to my primary topic.
  • Tell personal stories to provide context
    Live streaming is different than webinars. I provide webinars and there is a more or less linear discussion; a more strict outline. In those instances I am teaching.With live streaming, I am “riffing” – sort of ad-hoc with some general idea of where I’d like to go. But personal stories liven things up and give viewers some insight into who you are and what makes you tick. Be comfortable that you are the host of your own show.. step into the role.
  • Test the technology
    Because stuff happens. I was running sound through my mixer into my computer’s mic in. I wanted the better quality and control using my mixer and condenser microphone. It sounded awesome through the headphones but coming into a non-passive input (my powered laptop), there was an awful hum. I didn’t know until viewers told me.Get that stuff dialed in prior and do a few test runs. Get a couple friends on the other side of your stream to give you feedback.While I’ve used the external mics on my laptop, there are challenges with this. Placement is difficult and if someone is helping  you by typing responses to viewers, the mics pick up the keyboard sound. I use a Yeti USB Condenser Mic – and it sounds awesome! I also use an external camera on a tripod – rather than my built in web cam. Both for quality and, similar to the built-in mic, positioning. I can place both the mic and the camera away from my laptop.
  • JUST DO IT!
    Nike got this right. No amount of preparation will truly prepare you or make you better at live streaming than live streaming. Schedule it like it is an appointment (the past two weeks for me not-withstanding) and keep the appointment. If it turns out that it is just you and a friend… do the show anyway.

Here are some services I use or have used and my quick assessment of them.

  • Spreecast.com: This is pretty cool. Well integrated social media tools and the ability to have a producer control some aspects of the stream and the ability to bring others on video with you.. sort of a group video conversation.
  • JustJamIt.com: Some guys out of the UK built this streaming site for musicians, by musicians. They’ve integrated a paypal tipping system.
  • uStream.com: I haven’t used them in awhile. They were one of the first truly effective streaming services. One drawback (and they may have changed this) is that unless you are paying their high fees, they have full-screen interruption ads – that stop your stream entirely – every 5 or so minutes. And you, as the streamer, have no idea when these are happening. That made it a no go for me.
  • LiveStream.com: They have a really nice “producer” app – you can show your computer screen while also showing your webcam. Their chat in their producer was so small and you could not modify the font, that I stopped using it.
  • Anymeeting.com:  Not truly a streaming service. This is a webinar service. But it is free and if you do NOT share your screen or show slides, your video takes the screen. The nice part, is you can require registration and even payment for your show.

Are you streaming? If not, why?

Posted in Blog, Music Business, Social Media, Tools and Tips.

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