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The show must go on. How to live stream your gigs in the time of COVID-19.

14/03/2020

With concerns about COVID-19 canceling gatherings of all sizes, from SXSW to the Pearl Jam tour, musicians might be finding their own gigs also canceled or suddenly playing to an empty house. In this new and temporary era of social distance, live streaming your band's performances might be the solution.

Live streaming is a great way to gain new fans, continue to entertain your loyal fanbase, and sell more content when you can't play at the local summer festival or proceed with your tour as planned-but getting started can be a little daunting. Whether you're an established band with a devoted following or an emerging artist looking to building your fanbase; live streaming is perhaps the best way to share your talent and music with a limitless audience.

PreSonus has put together this guide to help provide some tips and tricks to get started live streaming and keep the music going.

Start Small

If you're like most musicians, the quality of your performance improves when you're in front of an audience that is participating in your performance, applauding and cheering you on. This is perhaps the biggest challenge when beginning live streaming: you must find a way to bring that same energy to a camera in an otherwise empty room.

One way to get started is to create brief excerpts of a rehearsal to use as a story in your band's Facebook or Instagram feed. This takes off some of the pressure because the video can't be very long. Another method is to bring the audience to you. Live stream from a house party or a backyard barbecue. This lets you merge your physical and virtual audiences, giving you some comfort with the medium before the camera becomes the only member of the crowd.

Choosing a Streaming Medium When you're first beginning to create live streams for your band, controlling the cost to your band's budget is critical. And while there are paid services that will allow you to create a private live stream that is ad-free and customizable, until you have an established audience, the cost for these services may not be justifiable. Services like YouTube Live, Facebook Live, and You Now will let you broadcast your performances for free and are designed to help you create a relatively stress-free live stream. Some free services will even let you preview your live stream before it goes live so you can make sure the quality is exactly what you want to broadcast. The trade-off is that these free services will interrupt your broadcast with ads, but this is a relatively small price to pay. Additionally, these free services already have millions of users who may stumble on your live stream, providing greater access for more impressions.

Choosing your Camera and Connection

Making your live stream look and sound as professional as possible is the best way to attract attention. After all, nobody likes to watch a video that looks bad and sounds worse. To live stream your band's performances, you'll need some basic video production equipment to represent yourself well. There are several options based on your budget, but here are the essentials:

Camera. Webcams are often the first thought when considering live streaming, but inexpensive doesn't usually mean quality. We recommend using an HD camcorder, DSLR, or Mirrorless Camera with excellent video quality. 1080p is the current standard in resolution, however many 4K cameras are becoming more affordable. (It's important to note that consider some streaming platforms will not output in 4K.) Be sure to investigate how a camera performs in low light; some cameras, like those designed for action, may not perform in low light situations that are more suitable for creating the right vibe for a live performance. And remember, just like an audio interface or a mixer, a good camera can be an investment into photography or video recording other than your live stream, so buy something that will fit all your needs. The good news is than an excellent camera that will suit all your needs can be purchased for less than $500.

Lens. Camcorders can have great quality and you don't need to purchase any lenses. That being said, they aren't as versatile and won't have the same video quality of a DSLR or Mirrorless camera. Many cameras will come with a kit lens that has a variable focal length and a low F-Stop that will most likely work for you.

Light. Don't forget about lighting before you record your live stream. Even if you just use a well lit room or have a large window, it can make a huge difference. There are many options for lighting such as LED, fluorescent, and tungsten. It is important to match the white balance of your camera to your lights as well as diffuse the light so it isn't just bright, but also soft and photogenic.

Tripod or Mount. You are going to need something to setup, frame, and stabilize yours shots. Every tripod has a suggested weight limit, so get one based on your needs.

Power. When you're live streaming your band's performance, you don't want to run anything on batteries. Make sure every piece of equipment has a power system to ensure your camera doesn't die out during a long broadcast.

Video encoder. A video encoder is a piece of hardware or software that takes your video content and converts it to a digital format so that you can stream it on the Internet. There are many different types of encoders on the market and with just a little research, you can find one to suit your needs and your budget.

Video Switcher (optional). A single camera shot will work well for many live streams, but if you want to take yours to the next level, a multi-camera shot will add another dimension to the final product. Investing in a video switcher will allow you to switch between multiple cameras or video sources and will cost around $1000. Be sure to look for a device
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