How to make money from livestreaming

In this simple guide for independent musicians, saxophonist Guido Spannocchi and brand strategist Severin Matusek explain how you can make money from livestreaming and connect digitally with your audience.

For more information on the logistics of livestreaming, you can refer to our previous advice pages A musician’s guide to livestreaming and How to put on online concerts and gigs.

An opportunity to perform

Since lockdown strategies were introduced across the globe, many performing musicians have been faced with uncertainty as to when public shows will be possible again.

One tool which has caught the attention of audiences and musicians alike is livestreaming, which enables musicians to stay home, thus complying with government guidelines, yet still play for their fans.

Livestreaming on public platforms

Many livestreams happen on public platforms like Facebook Live, Instagram Live or YouTube Live. Streaming on these platforms can be a good way to showcase your music, and you are also able to record your streams, so you can potentially use them later as a pre-recorded video.

Livestreaming on public platforms reduces your ability to generate income however, as the only way to create income is to attach a donation link in the description and mention this during your performance. Unfortunately, people tend to be distracted by all the other activities which are available on these platforms. Don’t be surprised if your audience moves on quickly or leaves before making a donation.

If one of your primary goals is to make money from your performance, therefore, we would advise you to create a private livestream only accessible via a private link which can only be obtained once your audience has made a donation.

Selling tickets

Making your event ticketed is key to the relationship you create with your audience. It allows an intimate concert where people stay for the whole experience, rather than tuning in and out like they would at a free concert. It also creates a sense of community among the guests. People do not only join for the music, but also to spend time with like-minded music lovers.

Choosing your livestreaming platform

You want to find a livestreaming platform that allows you to create a ‘room’ in which your audience can be present during your performance, but is not accessible for people who haven’t purchased a ticket. Ideally, use a platform your audience is using privately already and or one that is easy to set up.

There are lots of livestreaming platforms available, but we use Zoom for three reasons:

  1. Accessible: Zoom has become one of the most well-known video conferencing platforms, and is easy to access for people with varying technical expertise.
  2. Private: Zoom allows you to set up password-protected sessions, which is essential if you want to create an intimate atmosphere for your guests.
  3. Audio options: Zoom offers a good range of audio options, so you can adjust levels and various input methods.

Find out more in the ISM’s Zoom security features update.

Other commonly used platforms are twitch.tv, crowdcast.io and Microsoft Teams. You should find out which is most in tune with your audience.

Purchase platforms

In order to sell tickets to your concert, you will also need to find a purchase platform.

Buymeacoffee.com is swift to set up, people can donate easily via PayPal or credit card and you get a landing page to direct people to. Throughout April, their fees have been waived to support creators during COVID-19, so all money goes directly to the musicians with no percentages deducted.

Another platform is wegottickets.com, which has also waived a portion of its revenue share during this crisis.

Calendar invites

Ideally your ticket page is set up so that once people make a payment you receive their email address and can send them a calendar invite which contains the livestream link to your performance, alongside other crucial pieces of information (date, time, performance details, schedule etc).

You can do this manually or you might want to automate this step using Zapier. Wegottickets and other conventional ticket platforms do this automatically for you.

Promoting your gig

Currently, many online channels are completely overrun with entertainment, and a lot of it is free. Generating interest in your performance will only be possible if you can come up with interesting, well-produced content, and if you’re not shy about promoting yourself. We believe having a smaller concentrated audience than hundreds of distracted, disengaged viewers is better.

Make sure you put together a strong promotional photo or image which clearly states what to expect. Keep your wording clear and concise. It is worthwhile checking the programmes or venue listings you are usually a part of and use their messaging and branding as a guide.

For example, are we running a concert series which is described below:

Tunes in Rooms is a series of intimate living room concerts which brings people together over carefully crafted underground jazz. Using Zoom as our stage, we bring together the world's finest underground musicians to perform live solo sets during times of self-isolation — from our homes to yours.’

Start advertising your show across your channels with ample time for people to commit. ISM members can access advice on Promoting yourself on social media and Setting up a mailing list.

Hosting the show

When putting on a livestream think of it like a real gig. Make sure your repertoire is on point, check that the room looks right, maybe add a few lamps or flowers or anything that makes the setting relatable and interesting to watch. Treat it like a stage.

It's very important to do a soundcheck before the gig in order to ensure quality and make everyone comfortable. You might even want to run a warm-up gig for your friends beforehand.

Open the gig with a short introduction, and consider ending the show with a short Q&A. Many streaming platforms have a chat function which allows the audience to write questions or communicate with each other during the performance. It is advisable to keep the audience on mute during the performance to avoid interruptions.

Post-performance

After the concert send out a thank you email to your supporters, share links to the musicians’ websites, social channels etc and ask for feedback. Evaluate the gig - if you managed to generate some income and it resonated well with your audience and the participants, you might want to do another one!

Guido Spannocchi is an ISM member and jazz saxophonist based in London. Severin Matusek is a Berlin-based brand strategist, and founder of global network co-matter.

To find out more about livestreaming, read our advice page A musician's guide to livestreaming. ISM members can access a discount on pay-per-view livestreaming platform TicketCo TV here.

Other COVID-19 advice

TicketCo TV

Discounted fees on a pay-per-view livestreaming solution

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