We’ve all felt the impact of the past year, whether we’re professional musicians living off our music or hobbyists playing the occasional gig.
Sold out stadiums gave way to living room stages, and backstage passes were swapped for virtual meet and greets. As a result, virtual concerts and live streamed sets have become the fashionable music medium. The movement has grown from pole to pole. Spontaneous sets, album release shows and full-scale festivals have all found a home in virtual settings.
Even as in-person concerts come back and venues reawaken, live streaming has cemented its place in the modern music landscape. And during the transition back, waiting around for your next in-person appearance might leave you high and dry. So how can you get your gear ready and make a plan to put on a virtual concert?
To help musicians and performers of all types navigate the tricky livestreaming waters ahead, we asked Singular Sound — creator of the ultra-popular Aeros Loop Studio and BeatBuddy — to build a full guide to help you live stream like a pro, whether you’re a songwriter with a stool or a five piece rock outfit. With these 8 proven tips, you can dazzle your audience — and make some cash while you’re at it.
1. Fix up the fundamentals
It’s tempting to dive headfirst into the more intricate, creative aspects of your live stream performance. Before you do, ensure that you’ve got the basics ready. It would be a nightmare if your laptop or camera died mid-performance. Save yourself the embarrassment and frustration. See to it that your computer, camera and other tech have a solid charge and an internet connection.
Live streaming music usually means running multiple programs and interfaces on your computer. Do you have enough RAM to run all your software? Is your processor up to the task? Your computer is the workhorse in a virtual concert. Factor in mixing programs, livestream platforms and social media connectivity, and make sure it’s ready for duty. As a rule, for 1080p streaming you’ll need at least 5Mbps upload bandwidth, and at least 25Mbps for 4k. To dive deeper, you can add the total bit rate from all your programs and multiply it by 1.5 to accurately calculate your required upload bandwidth.
2. Equipment Roll Call
Now that you’ve checked off the fundamentals of an exceptional digital concert, let’s get a roll call on all the vital equipment you’ll need.
- Microphone: Staticky, harsh vocals that peak over your live stream will make viewers disappear. Invest in a microphone that minimizes room noise while keeping your vocals warm. A few surefire options are the Shure SM7B, the Audio-Technica AT2020, and the Razer Seiren X.
- Headphones: It’s obvious, but it bears repeating. Headphones help you to monitor the audio you’re sending your viewers. The work can be done with studio monitors, but you risk audio feedback. There are plenty of affordable options like Sennheiser HD280 Pro or Sony MDR-7506.
- Audio Mixer: Pull out your mixer or interface and get some level checks going. We recommend developing a transparent base mix, with compression and EQ to match. The last thing you need is to clip and peak away your guitar tones and synth tracking. Ensure that your audio is going through the proper channels.
- Cables: How many times have you gotten to the gig to set up, and realized you’re missing a patch cable? Don’t end up 5 feet short of success. Keep a list of what you need and check it as you go. Keep everything in shape with Cabli, a device for easily wrapping, organizing and protecting your cables.
3. Optimize your tech for a seamless livestream
Cameras are the canvas, and your music is the paint. Plenty of virtual shows are filmed on a phone, but there are better options out there. DSLR Mirrorless cameras like the ones from Canon provide a crisp, attractive image for your live stream. Plus, many of them have companion apps that connect to your computer via USB.
If you want to take it to the next level, get a dedicated video card that pushes your feed out at 4k resolution. The combination of camera and video card may come at a steeper price, but there’s a reason for it. Video is make or break. It can be your biggest weapon or your biggest weakness. Extra investment for an impeccable stream is well worth it.
Lastly, remember that software plays a major role in live streaming, too. Streaming to multiple platforms requires multicast technology, and is decisive in expanding your audience. Multicast technology like restream.io transmits the data coming from one source to multiple targets. This is not to be confused with broadcasting, which transmits data to certain users rather than whole platforms. The process might seem tricky. Here’s some things to keep in mind:
- An ethernet cable will give you a more reliable connection for your livestream, especially when multicasting.
- This many components can complicate things. Make sure each one is feeding through the proper channels. You don’t want sound going through the monitors and into your audio mic.
- Subscription based services like Wirecast and VidBlasterX offer lots of customization to optimize your virtual concert experience.
4. Use the Aeros Loop Studio to develop your live sound
The fact is, what works in a live setting might not work on camera. You’ll want to develop your sound to match the needs of a virtual concert. Whatever that looks like for you or your band, it’s worth taking some time to hash out. The Aeros Loop Studio helps to layer and energize your performance right out of the box. It upgrades your sound without the guesswork of most looping pedals.
Recording, overdubbing and layering tracks are a tap away with Aeros’ triple footswitch feature. The colored LED screen helps you to visualize each part of your song and edit on the fly. 2×2 mode provides a comforting simplicity, letting you operate two song parts with two more in parallel. 6×6 mode unleashes your creative potential, granting you access to 36 tracks to loop, push, pause and edit. Your killer combinations, backed by unlimited overdub potential, supply you with unrivaled gigging functionality.
5. Create full, fresh drum loops with BeatBuddy
At a live show, the vibration of drums ricochet through the room. Digital concerts often struggle to replicate this experience. BeatBuddy from Singular Sound can help to amplify the power of your livestream set. By combining a high level algorithm with meticulously recorded sessions from professional drummers, BeatBuddy gives you drum backing that is gripping, big and sounds real.
BeatBuddy’s visual metronome helps to keep you focused on your performance while transitions, drum fills and outros are available at the tap of your foot. Combine styles with beat patterns for an authentic feel. Play heavy metal beats on hand drums, or shuffles in the style of beatboxing.
Virtual concerts require improvisation, and BeatBuddy makes it effortless. You can change time signatures and tempo on-screen, and pack your SD card with your own sounds for endless possibilities. For even more, grab the Footswitch+ for custom accent hits and pause capabilities. If you need fresh ideas for your drum tracks, our song-matching tool helps you to find beats based on your favorite artists.
BeatBuddy and Aeros are remarkable in their own right, but when you run them in tandem you get exceptional results. The devices will talk to one another, keeping your loops and drums perfectly in sync, and ready for mutual customization. No other drum machine or looping pedal gives you usability and ingenuity like these. See it in action below:
6. Accelerate your aesthetic
It’s time to give your sound a proper home. Bland, uninviting backdrops can dampen a live performance. First, make sure your lighting is sufficient. Performers new to live streaming often underestimate the amount of light they really need for a virtual concert. Playing online is different from playing on a stage, and it’s important to adapt. Decorate and dress the part. You know your style better than anyone. Now is the time to really lean into it. Make your look and aesthetic forward and full.
7. Get tips for your tunes
You may not be getting ticket sales or money from venues, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make some cash. Optimize your digital concerts to make tipping quick and easy. Choose a platform and have it displayed on your live stream. Venmo, Paypal and Cashapp are commonly used. Try out offering perks in return for tips. Perhaps you give viewers who tip early access to your next single, or a discount on your merch. Engaging with your audience incentivizes their engagement with you.
8. Embrace your virtual persona
We want your live stream to make people talk and leave them wanting more. A virtual concert relies on personality and energy. The single greatest asset you can bring to a live stream is whatever makes you unique. Find your story, your style, your signature. You might stand out with witty banter, bright fashion or emotive authenticity. Find what sets you apart and bottle it up. Then, when it’s time for your digital concert, release it for everyone to see.
It’s easy to feel pessimistic about live music right now, but there’s plenty of hope. Digital concerts are bringing people together all around the world. Consider it an opportunity to grow your fan base in ways you couldn’t by playing at your local venue. You get to make the rules. You get to make the stage. The creative potential is infinite, and we hope our tips help you to get started.
For more modern music talk and industry-grade products, visit www.singularsound.com