Live Streaming for Musicians: How to Reach Fans at HomeBack
Live streaming is an awesome promotional tool in the arsenal of any upcoming artist, providing an easy way to interact with fans and show off new material with minimal expense.
Whether it’s Facebook Live, Instagram Live or broadcasting on YouTube, it’s important to approach live streaming in the right way. Let’s go through some of the tools you’ll need and approaches you can take to make the most of live streaming as a musician.
Live Streaming for Musicians
Get the right tools
You could, of course, carry out your live broadcast with nothing other than your phone & an internet connection, but if you want to give your streams a more professional edge, investing in some new gear is a good place to start.
Your smartphone might have a state-of-the-art HD camera, but generally, even the latest devices don’t cope well with recording quality audio. Investing in a great smartphone-compatible external microphone is a great way to get over this issue.
There are hundreds of external mics out there for iPhone and Android (take a look at this list for some of the best). Ideally, you want it to be portable, forward-facing, and most importantly, record the best possible audio.
An external lense for your phone is not necessarily essential for live streaming, but it can offer some cool options in terms of close ups,fisheyee shots, focus and more. Here are some of the best lenses out there right now.
Don’t just prop your phone up on a shelve when you can get a cheap tripod. A tripod offers more options when it comes to get the right angle for your shot, and they’re usually very affordable.
Perhaps your broadcast location already has lots of natural light or a spotlight fitting that brightens the room substantially. If not, getting hold of some decent studio lighting can keep you out of the dark.
Once you’re equipped with the right tools for the job, it’s time to plan your broadcasts.
Where to live stream
Although Instagram Live is somewhat fleeting in nature, it can have a big impact on reaching fans.
When you go live on Instagram, all of your followers will receive a notification letting them know. This is particularly helpful in bringing in viewers with minimal effort, but you should still promote your live stream ahead of time to let everyone know your plans.
You can save any Instagram live streams to your stories, where they’ll stay for 24 hours. If you’d like to keep your live streams on your feed for longer than this, you can download them with a plugin like this, and upload them as IGTV videos.
Much like Instagram, when you go live on Facebook, your followers will receive an instant notification. If you’re thinking of doing a Facebook Live broadcast, it’s also a good idea to set the broadcast as an event on the platform and invite your followers in advance.
YouTube has massive potential for live streaming to fans, but there’s one major drawback. You need to have at least 1,000 YouTube followers.
DECIDE THE PREMISE
Typically, live broadcasts from musicians are either live performances or Q&A sessions, but they don’t need to be quite so predictable.
Live performances / rehearsals
There’s nothing wrong with doing a straight-up live performance via Instagram or Facebook Live, but why not make it more interesting? It could be a stream of an unrehearsed practice session, offering a look behind the scenes, or a cover request broadcast.
The same goes for Q&As. Don’t be afraid to be original, do something different and engage with your fans in a unique and interesting way. You know your fans best, so do what you think they will react and respond to best, and mention commenters by name. Promoting a single or album launch is a fantastic way to reach people on socials.
Uk band As Sirens Falls hosted an hour-long Q&A session with fans on release day.
Got a particular riff or melody your fans love? You could do a live stream teaching fans how to play your music themselves, whether that’s a guitar tutorial, drum workshop, piano session or whatever other instruments you use.
Why not stream your latest demos or even your old unreleased material exclusively for fans on a live stream? Then you can discuss the track with them, get feedback and decide what is working and what isn’t.
Go live with other artists & influencers
Sharing a live stream on Instagram with another artist is a great way to reach people outside of your own fan base.
Not only will your fans receive a push notification letting them know you're going live, but so will the fans of whoever else is on your live stream. This has the potential to open you up to a whole new audience of similar fans.
What you do on your shared live stream is up to you. You could do a dual live performance, open the floor up for questions, or just have a chat discuss your music, your life, or anything else!
Length of broadcast
Find a nice balance when it comes to the length of your live streaming sessions. A minute or two is generally too short to get anything meaningful across, whereas two hours might be overkill.
Thirty minute to an hour is a good ballpark duration, but length depends on the content, so don’t take this as gospel. Use your best judgement to decide how long to stream for. Maybe a short snappy stream would work well for your viewers? Or maybe a marathon broadcast is exactly what will engage your fans? It all depends on engagement, so test different ideas and try to mix things up.
Plan & promote ahead
Sometimes spontaneous streams can go down well, especially if you have a large dedicated following who are active across social media anyway. However, if you’re just getting started in the live streaming game, it’s key to let people know ahead of time that you’ll be going live, so they can make sure to join you.
Another bonus for live streaming, especially on Facebook, is that it is usually prioritised by the platform’s algorithms, so you’ll appear at the top of more news feeds. Unlike other posts types, your followers will also get a notification when you go live.
Jax Jones let fans know a day in advance of his Facebook Live single announcement.
Watch out for copyright flags
You’ve probably heard stories of artists having there cover songs taken down from Facebook due to copyright infringement. This may seem unfair (and it sometimes is), but unfortunately, it’s the way things are and the platforms are simply trying to protect themselves.
If you're playing an original track or even a cover with original instrumentation, you'll generally be fine. Don’t stream recorded music you don’t have the rights to though. This can include singing over a backing track.
Time to monetize?
Facebook recently announced plans to let creators monetize their live streams. While this isn’t in place just yet, you could instead drop a PayPal or Venmo link so fans can “tip” you during your live stream.
Test & Review
Other than a straightforward view count found on other platforms, Facebook has particularly in-depth metrics for Live videos, including post performance, audience engagement, viewer retention, clicks, reach and even negative feedback. You can see these useful details by navigating to 'Insights' on your Facebook page. You can then view a range of insights for your live video posts, as well as all other published posts, from the side menu. You can find more info on understanding the metrics behind your posts from Facebook themselves here.
Review and learn from these stats after a live broadcast to see what worked and what didn’t. There’s no shame in a live broadcast getting just a few viewers and no engagement, as long as you learn from it, improve and try something different next time.
Do you have any tips or experience of live streaming to share with other musicians? Let us know in the comments below.