How to put on online concerts and gigs

Advice on setting up, promoting and monetising online performances from arts entrepreneur David Taylor.

Pre-recorded or livestreamed?

Before you get started, it’s important to decide whether your performance will be live or pre-recorded. Both are simple and effective ways to put on online concerts and gigs.

If you’re looking at performing regularly at the same time, such as every week or every two weeks, livestreaming would require you to commit to being available to perform at that time. Pre-recording gives you the flexibility of recording when it’s best for you and publishing later.

Pre-recording also allows you make multiple attempts to make sure you’re happy with the performance and undertake as much editing as you want. It does require more time, however.

Performing live could be the technically simpler option, as you can set up your live performance easily, without the need for editing afterwards.

The algorithm for each social media platform will always favour live content, so it’s likely that your live performance will have more viewers than a pre-record.

Another benefit of livestreaming is that it recreates the normal gig or concert experience for your audience, as they are watching you perform in real time.

Livestreaming also gives you more chance to talk to and connect with your audience, either by responding live to comments, or replying to them afterwards. Engagement with your audience will help you to monetise your performance later, as well as building your following.

Both options (pre-recording and livestreaming) will work well, but there are slight differences and ultimately, it is a personal preference.

What will I need?

Although you could use expensive video and audio equipment, you only need a phone and an internet connection to get started. If you’re livestreaming, using your phone will probably be easier.

Where and when should I share my performance?

One thing to think about is where you will put your performance online. Commonly used platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Without using extra software, you can only livestream to one platform at a time. You should post your livestream on the platform where you currently have your biggest audience.

If you’re just starting to build a following, Facebook is a good platform to choose as you can link your livestream to Facebook events. This means you can invite people to join your performance, control who sees or joins it, and download your stream afterwards so that you can share it on other platforms.

If you choose to pre-record your concert or gig, you can upload it to multiple platforms at the same time.

In planning the timing of your performance or event, it's important to think about which day and time will work best for your audience. For example, you may want to avoid clashes with popular TV programmes, or the performances of other artists that you think your audience would also want to watch. You may also want to consider a time that is suitable for people on different timezones to yourself.

You should also consider how often you want to post. Posting online performances at a regular time is a good idea, but it’s also OK to experiment with different times as long as you give people notice. Be realistic about how often you want to post your performances. Daily posts might sound great, but will involve a lot of work and it’s best not to overstretch yourself.

Marketing

Make sure you announce your concert series, give it a name and, ideally, a photo to promote it.

You can promote your series wherever you have a following - via social media, through a blog, website, and/or email. Even though your concert or gig will be online, you should also remember to tell people about it via more traditional methods, such as word of mouth. Friends, family, colleagues and fans will be keen to support you.

What to tell your audience:

  • where to watch
  • when to watch
  • who will be performing
  • what you’ll be playing (if you want to promote this in advance)

If you’re performing on Facebook, you can make a Facebook event for your concert or gig and invite people to watch. This means you’ll be able to update them with information beforehand, automatically send reminders, and keep in touch with them afterwards.

Other things to remember:

  • post reminders and updates beforehand
  • reply to people who ask questions
  • be honest and authentic about why you’re performing and why you want people to watch
  • say thank you after the concert or gig and tell your audience when the next one will be

          Interested in finding out more about promoting concerts and gigs online? You can watch the ISM Trust’s webinar Marketing essentials for musicians for free.

          Recording your performance

          Before you start recording:

          • check how the video looks and that the microphone works
          • make sure you are well lit using either lamps or light from a window
          • make sure the room is presentable

          If you’re livestreaming:

          • do a test version before you start
          • talk to the audience beforehand - introduce yourself and tell them what you’re going to play
          • have regular breaks to check the comments, and talk to the audience in between each piece/song
          • say thank you at the end

          To find out more about livestreaming, see our advice page A musician's guide to livestreaming, which includes video tutorials demonstrating how to livestream across different platforms.

          Making money

          All social media content will be free for people to view. So in order to monetise your performance, you can ask your audience to donate or buy a voluntary ticket by including a link to sites like PayPal.me, GoFundMe or Crowdfunder in the description.

          You can also use these opportunities to promote and sell any albums, merchandise or books you have available.

          David Taylor is CEO and Founder of the acclaimed Yorkshire Young Sinfonia (YYS) and runs a daily blog series, 'How to be an online musician and work from home'.


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