Can a band make money off virtual live shows from their rehearsal room? Can they gain more fans on a global level by streaming live shows, rehearsals, and private events? Instead of hauling heavy gear, spending tons on gas, and not knowing a show’s turnout, can bands lower their risk and make their fans happy?
I have no clue, but I want to try! Recently, I’ve been introduced to StageIt, a service that lets you stream a live show, but allows you to charge for entrance. Also, StageIt has a handy tip jar that anyone can tip for your performance.
This got me thinking about virtual shows. Honestly, I’ve recommended them, but never used them. I think the idea is fabulous to promote your music, but StageIt has made me think that it could actually be profitable. And, the coolest thing for my band, we can start playing shows without being fully ready for a live show. (I’m still learning how to play bass and sing at the same time. Shut up!)
This lead me down to a brief, but disappointing, search for video streaming services for music. Here’s the main irksome things: pro audio, multiple cameras, and private viewing (Invite-only). I’ll talk about that later. First, here’s the services I know of that musicians use. I’m sure there’s more, but I’m a noob. Yell at me in the comments!
Ustream.tv and Justin.tv
Both Ustream.tv and Justin.tv are easy to sign up for and immediately start streaming. There’s no restriction to the viewers just tuning in and viewing you. Plus, Justin.tv allows a lot of customization and branding of your channel. I even see that you can add Twitter chats with your own hashtags.
Fans can participate. They can chat through text or using their webcams.
Ustream allows you to record and share your performance on YouTube.
Both services are ad driven. When you first start watching a channel, you are subjected to irritating, 30 second ads that you can’t skip. That means fans tuning in will miss 30 seconds of your performance. Ustream allows you to get rid of these ads, but the monthly cost is prohibitive.
You can’t charge for shows. It’s live or nothing. Ustream has options for customizing how your streams are shared, but, again, the costs are prohibitive.
The streaming quality is questionable. I recorded a brief test video, and it was highly pixelated.
You can’t record your videos to sell later. On Ustream, you can record your show, but you don’t have access to download it. You’re only given the option of sharing it on YouTube. Which is both a plus and a minus.
Quick and easy streaming of your rehearsals, shows, or impromptu streams. You can use this to generate interest in your new music, your album, or to create a buzz about upcoming shows. In addition, you can use the streams to engage fans and gather new fans. Just imagine a regular live stream that people look forward to. A weekly, live engagement that fans can participate in.
In addition to you playing music, you can use this to just interact with people. Leave it open as a Q&A session, a drinking game, or whatever crazy thing that enters your imagination.
StageIt is cool. You can charge for people to see your online shows! Or you can just make it an optional donation for people to watch your stream. In addition, people can tip you while you play!
StageIt requires fans to signup. Signups could chase people away. In order for people to pay and tip, they have to enter their financial information. This could definitely scare people away.
StageIt has some weird, messed up payment thing. They say that 10 “Notes” costs a dollar. I’m not sure what that crap means. It reminds me of Xbox Live which has the “points” system, so you have no clue what the hell you’re actually spending. Personally, I don’t need trickery with my money. I like to know exactly what costs what without having to convert some stupid virtual currency.
No recording of your shows. Only the one stream, and it’s gone forever. I would like the option to have the show recorded, so I could either sell it to the viewers or offer it as an incentive to sign up for my email list. Or give it to them as a thank you for watching.
StageIt is slow to activate performer accounts. It’s been a few days since I signed up and still haven’t been approved. So I can’t tell you what percentage they take from your shows. Also, I couldn’t test it to see how the interface works. I’ll have to get back to you on that in a future post.
Make money from online shows! You have to rehearse your shows anyways, right?
Only perform encores based on tips. Sneaky!
Monthly virtual shows that can reach a global audience.
Team up with other bands and have full fledged virtual concerts.
Testing the waters
This is my initial dip into these streaming services to do virtual concerts. In my next post, I will discuss some drawbacks, hurdles, and my plans for my band to start conducting experiments. I’m really excited to start!
If you have experience with these services, let me know in the comments. Or, better yet, tell me something cool you’ve done with these streaming services to get money or more fans, and I will feature you on this blog! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.