So what goes into a good live stream? I’m not going to lie, I haven’t watched a lot. While I admire the format and have certainly seen some things that really impressed me, as a general rule I don’t really think they are for me. However – a lot of people really like them. And they are a great way to keep attention on your band during COVID. So I wanted to break down some of the things that make the good ones worthwhile.
The thing with live streams is that production quality really matters. Most bands can’t just put their iPhones up and do a live stream. On top of that, you want to have some sort of personal elements to really communicate that you care about the fans one on one. Additionally, there needs to be some follow-up – how do you make the live stream experience one that comes to the fans on a deeper level?
3. Production Quality And The Lack Thereof
The big thing of course that limits bands who are trying to do live streams, of course, is production quality. If you don’t have the cameras then you’re basically fucked, right? And on some level I get it. You want to have multiple cameras. You want roaming cameras and cool shots. A static single camera with cruddy audio doesn’t do much… unless you make it worth it. There are so many ways I’ve seen this work out for people. And the thing is – the bar is surprisingly low.
Francis of King Gorm and Old Man Wizard has talked about how livestreaming his guitar warmups did great. Trevor of Haunt is another great example of this as a guy who just sets up and shreds. The other thing that I think would work really well for a lot of you would just be acoustic versions of your songs. Showcase the breadth of what goes on under the distortion, even if it is very stripped down.
2. Personalization And You
This is of course the other big factor. You want people to feel like they are having a personal experience. On stage, this is just a question of pointing at people and making eye contact. In a live stream, there are other ways to handle this. In fact – this might very well be the crux of how you do this whole thing.
The most obvious answer of course is to do a Q&A. However, I think there’s also a ton of value in doing fan requests, and even interacting with the fans as you perform, just as you might have an exchange with someone who yells something funny at the band. But honestly – get creative. What’s a cool way that makes sense for your band to give back to the fans?
1. Pushing It Beyond The Stream
This is the real money shot, the thing that people don’t understand, but if you do it it will elevate you to a whole new level. Give people a thank you after you do the stream. Release some of the streamed content. Or if the stream was public, just push the whole thing or the highlights.
You can do so much more though by bringing in personalization. Why not a personal thank you to everyone who tipped? Why not try to build a relationship with them because they are clearly the people who really gave a shit after all? When you can do these things then people remember you forever, which is the real dream.
Ultimately live streams are hard. You probably will need to do some brainstorming to figure out a way to do it that makes sense for you and that people will enjoy it. It might even take a few tries, but that’s OK. We’re all beginners. Just make sure that you learn now before you are left in the dust.
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Matt Bacon is a consultant, A&R man, and journalist specializing in the world of heavy metal. Having worked with everyone from Glam Rock icon Phil Collen of Def Leppard, to post Black Metal titans Alcest, by way of legendary thrashers Exhorder as well as labels including Prophecy Productions and Ripple Music, he has dedicated his life to helping young bands develop. Having started his own blog at the age of 14 he views his career in artist development as ‘a hobby that got out of hand’. In 2015 he formed Dropout Media in order to better support the artists he loves. We sit here now, years later with countless tours booked, records released and deals signed, and loving every minute of it.
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