4 Things We Learned About Live Music Online During 2020

Casting our memories back to the start of 2020, we were involved in our local live music scene but we did not take the live streaming world seriously. When the pandemic lockdowns hit, we saw our musician friends struggle to find ways to express their creativity and while some put their performances onto various platforms, they all had challenges creating momentum and finding income. Towards the end of that tumultuous year, we started an endeavour to bring audiences and talent together, online, for the benefit of both.


child singing into microphone

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash


1. It's about the audiences!

Live music has always been about the audiences (else why bother), but when it comes to online live music performances, the only thing that really keeps them returning is the level of engagement you can have with them. While Facebook live streaming has the potential to communicate with audiences who follow you on their platform, most of our musician friends left it behind since it felt like they'd never see any rewards for their efforts and they could not find new fans.


When you have a life in performance, you want to know people are appreciating what you put out to them. Through their plugins, Twitch allows much stronger audience interaction than Facebook or Instagram, so we've landed on this platform as the one that "gets it". If only Twitch had more viewers that knew about their talented musician performers versus the gaming ones it was made for.


2. It's not about reproducing the concert experience

When we first started watching live music streams, we were looking to fill the void of all the cancelled concerts we were missing due to the pandemic. Whether it was local open mics or big stadium extravaganzas, we were craving the performances we typically caught a few times a month. But when artists started streaming and were merely running a camera as their proxy audience, it did not satisfy since it felt empty and sad. We realized that the connection was missing - of us to the artist, of us to the rest of the audience, of the artist to their art. You cannot expect to create a connection by simply filming your show. You need to actively respond. There needs to be a back and forth: feedback - your audience needs to see you seeing them.


3. There's an incredible wealth of creativity out there

When we started watching, we assumed that the typical "watch me perform" paradigm would be the only experience offered and that any variety would come from the chosen genre of music or maybe from the audience members that were attracted to each performer. However, we quickly found people who were doing a range of cool, innovative experiences: a channel where you can play Julian Principe's modular synthesizer gear in an ambient "Twitch plays electronic music" experience with others in the chat, an improv music performance alongside gothic horror readings, a performer who creates new music while she streams and has the audience give feedback on what they like. Sometimes a performer will start out one way, and then create something completely unique in the moment as an experiment which leads us to...


4. It's evolving in real-time

We'll catch someone's performance then revisit them a month later and the experience can be very different. They'll have responded to those who have caught their show over that month but also are much more immediately responsive to those who are watching their stream right at the moment. It's no longer simply an artist performing a planned set for others to listen to - the community involvement will change the experience each time they connect. It's not a one-way offering from the artist to their audience. When you view it, you become involved as part of the unique moment.


This year we're bound to learn a bunch more through the growth of this new medium and we're excited to bring the news to you. We're really looking forward to supporting our community and discovering more amazing performers. And maybe witness the energetic birth of a new experience as it happens.


Stay tuned!

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