7 Creative Ways Quarantined Musicians Optimize Livestreams

Although the coronavirus shutdown has led to the cancellation of tours and live shows, artists are adapting to this new era of isolation through livestreams. With so many musicians offering livestreams, however, artists must innovate to stand out from the crowd and better connect with their fans. Here we look at how.

Guest post by Carolyn Heneghan

While the COVID-19 quarantines have led many into socially isolated fits of boredom, artists across the globe have turned the situation into a unique opportunity to reach and interact with fans. Enter: The era of livestreams.

From Facebook Live and Instagram Live to YouTube and Twitch, social media and video streaming platforms have become the go-to arena for artist-to-fan interaction during the COVID quarantine. Many artists are now coordinating their performance schedule and marketing efforts around livestreamed events and solo productions, combined with digital tip jars hosted by services like PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App. 

But over time, the livestream market for music has quickly become saturated, and fans are now inundated with more options for comfortably couchbound live music than ever before. This has forced artists to innovate in how they use livestream technology to promote their music and merchandise while keeping fans tuned in on a regular and profitable basis.

Aside from solo improvised sets and even livestreamed virtual festivals, the following artists have come up with seven different ways to creatively utilize livestream technology to connect with fans and share music with the masses.

1. Throw a virtual release party for a new album, EP, or single

Artists with new, unreleased tunes in the works can use livestreams to host a virtual release party. Craftal recently debuted his album Lullabytes via livestream before releasing the digital versions on Spotify and SoundCloud the next day. 

2. Use coordinated visuals to transform a set into an extended music video

Rather than simply toss in a basic visualizer to stream as video feed, artists like Ovoid have teamed up with visual creatives like Mandalorium Visuals to coordinate professional visuals with the live music performance. The resulting product is a mesmerizing set-long music video that pulls in fans of both performers.

3. Charge a virtual admission for livestream performances (required or suggested donation)

New Orleans-based cellist and improvisational and looping artist Helen Gillet has configured a unique suggested donation via a virtual ticket that attendees can purchase through her Bandcamp site. With a $10 virtual admission, fans get a free album download in addition to enjoying her live improvised set.

4. Use music as background sounds for a guided meditation

If their style of music is appropriate to pair with a guided meditation, artists can attract fans to their livestreams by promoting both a guided meditation and an original music set. LSDream’s guided meditations offer attendees a mental health break and the opportunity to listen to more chill tunes in one zenned-out package

5. Livestream and screen-share while producing a song in real time

Besides livestreaming a performance, artists have also been streaming themselves creating new tracks in real time, either on their own or even with input from commenters watching the livestream. RJD2 utilizes streaming tech to share his renowned music production process with fans across the world.

6. Collaborate with another artist(s) via livestream to co-produce a track

Disciple Records recently hosted its “Disciple Mega Collab: Home Edition” on YouTube, featuring live multi-artist collaborations on screen-shared production software. Artists like MODESTEP, 12th Planet, Virtual Riot, and more created a song together, each from their own separate home studios. These collaborations aren’t just limited to other musicians and visual artists, with some productions streaming in live painters, dancers, and flow artists as well.

7. Offer virtual drinks and bartender tipping options to support local venues

Artists aren’t the only part of the music scene that utilize livestreams to stay in business. Artists and venues, like SideBar Nola in New Orleans, have structured livestreams to also offer options to purchase a virtual, imaginary drink with the ability to tip the bartender. This supports the artists’ and fans’ favorite music venues and their staff who have also taken a financial hit from the current quarantine.

Creativity in the midst of a crisis is nothing new to the music multiverse, and the current quarantine is no exception. Rather, musicians have only become exceptionally more innovative with their time, talents, and technology to keep fans and music lovers connected to their favorite tunes and performers worldwide.

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