‘It’s really different when you’re … performing to a camera': New Webinar Series to Help You Improve Your Livestream

Musician and audio-visual producer Simon Peter King who will give a Music Network webinar on optimising your video for performing online.

‘It’s really different when you’re … performing to a camera': New Webinar Series to Help You Improve Your Livestream

Getting to grips with livestreams – everything from good audio to lighting – is now key for musicians, and Music Network is running a series of five free webinars to help with the process, starting this Thursday 10 December. The Journal of Music spoke to three of the speakers about the key areas that artists need to think about.

A series of five webinars that focuses on performing online begins this Thursday. Programmed by Music Network, and streaming on Zoom, the webinars are aimed towards professional musicians across all genres.

While the quality of mobile phones has made livestreaming more achievable for musicians, the expectations of audiences have also risen, and so this series seeks to break down the process and give artists a better insight into what they should be thinking about when planning an online concert.

‘A lot of musicians who are used to performing live physically in a room with an audience are used to getting that energy exchange,’ says music industry writer and entrepreneur Lisa Occhino, who will deliver the first webinar from New York this Thursday 10 December at 2pm. ‘It’s really different when you’re … performing to a camera.’ 

Occhino’s webinar will get musicians thinking about fundamental questions: ‘How long do I stream for? How often do I go live? Should you go live once a week? Every day?… Is it worth it for you to livestream three times a week or is it more special for your audience if you do a once a month intimate performance and Q&A?’ 

‘There are some general best practises,’ says Occhino, with ‘consistency being the number one thing.’ She will also look at some of the current platforms, which are fast developing – Bandcamp, for example, have just launched their own livestreaming platform

The art of lighting
Guitarist and audio-visual producer Simon Peter King’s ‘Optimising your Video’ webinar, which takes place on Monday 14 December at 11am, will explore key issues such as lighting, background, framing the picture, colouring, and more. 
‘The … mistake that I see the most is bad lighting,’ says King.

We’re going to look at it from the ground up, so from no investment whatsoever – using your phone, concentrating on lighting, the composition of your frame, concentrating on colour – and then looking at minimal investment: a decent quality web-cam, some bass lights, some soft box lights to panel lights – a basic work area where you can standardise your look, so everything that you produce has got a similar branding look to it, getting content that looks professional.

Like Occhino, King makes the point that ‘YouTube audiences and Facebook audiences are built on consistency… [when] people know what they’re going to get.’

Some musicians may be overwhelmed by the range of aspects involved in livestreaming and online concerts, but the most important thing, says King about his webinar, is ‘getting people thinking about it’. ‘If [artists] have a vision of the kind of channel/content/broadcast that they want to have up and running’, that is key.

He also warns off investing heavily in tech gear. ‘Buying an expensive camera is way down the list because [on] social media the resolution is so poor … if you’re using a four-grand Red camera, no one is going to know.’ King says that phone cameras have become so good, any investment should go into lighting first, but even at-home desk-lamps and lava lamps can be effective if they are placed properly.

Three-part process
Sound engineer Mairéad O’Reilly’s ‘Optimising your Audio’ webinar, which will stream this Friday 11 December at 2pm, is about helping musicians understand ‘the limitations of streaming and what it does to your audio.’

It compresses it, very seriously. It’s transporting audio in a very different format … so you need to be mindful of maintaining your quality.

The key, says O’Reilly, is understanding that you are dealing with a process that has three sides to it: audio, video, and livestreaming.

The main takeaway will be for people to focus on ensuring their source audio is as good as possible… it can’t get fixed once it’s broke… people are diving in thinking they can fix things at a later stage, but this is a three-part process … they need to look after their audio from the outset.

The five-part Music Network webinar series will also feature a talk from marketing consultant David Taylor, who will discuss ‘Choosing Your Platform’ on Tuesday 15 December at 11am. The following day, there will be a group presentation with three musicians – fiddle-player Liz Doherty, pianist and composer Xenia Pestova Bennett, and violinist Gwendolyn Masin – who have all extended their practice online during the pandemic and they will discuss their approach.

As multi-faceted as the whole process of live-streaming may seem, the aim of the series is to help musicians make simple adjustments that will bring the experience of their audience to a new level. Simon Peter King, an acclaimed jazz guitarist, sees a lot of advantages in the new livestream trend: ‘The strength of livestreams is that it’s real… if you’re a really good player that will come across’.

Music Network’s ‘Taking Charge of Your Performance Career 2020: Performing Online’ webinars are free but registration is essential. See links below for full details. For more, visit www.musicnetwork.ie.

Thursday 10 December, 2pm – Performing Online: An Overview with Lisa Occhino: www.bit.ly/3lbyE7Q
Friday 11 December, 2pm – Optimising your Audio with Mairéad O’Reilly: www.bit.ly/3o0Xuc7
Monday 14 December, 11am – Optimising your Video with Simon Peter King: www.bit.ly/3fGmann
Tuesday 15 December, 11am – Choosing Your Platform with David Taylor: www.bit.ly/3l5O6Ck
Wednesday 16 December, 11am – Extending your Practice Online with Liz Doherty, Xenia Pestova Bennett and Gwendolyn Masin: www.bit.ly/37dI0L9

This news item is supported by Music Network.

 

Published on 8 December 2020

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