With a few Big Island venues opening up this week, it’s not too late to jump on the livestream bandwagon to listen or perform. As a musician and entrepreneur with many fingers in the success pie, patience, persistence, and adaptability all help one thrive during challenging times like the one we are experiencing.
I enjoy enriching lives through music. Working as a teacher, when times were normal, has morphed into my income flowing from music almost entirely for the first time in my life. Although surviving on 1/20th of the income I was making pre-COVID-19 feels rather absurd and frankly frightening.
Let me tell you about my livestream journey, and if you’re a listener, you may find a few new sites to enjoy music. I’ve always participated in bands; however, about 10 years ago I took up the ukulele. My goal at the time was only to play songs for children. Then two years ago, I realized I could play more than 30 songs and accompany myself almost completely without the need for a band, guitarist or piano player to accompany me. That’s been eye-opening, in that I started livestreaming music eight months ago, way before most folks jumped in. Now, I’m comfortable chatting with people worldwide; sometimes 2000 viewers join me. Although usually, it’s closer to 60-200.
If you’re a music appreciator or if you’re thinking of streaming yourself performing, there are lots of groups on Facebook to share your show, so the greatest number of people can view, or you can get an idea of some fun ones to watch & listen to. Socially Distant Fest, Homestyle Music Fest, Facebook Live Streaming, Blue Note Hawaii, Livestreaming Festivals, Concerts, Sharing, Big Island Live Music, Entertainment & Artists, Kona Town Today & Tonight, and Big Island Live Music are all worthwhile.
I’ve heard social media apps like Twitch and TikTok are decent, and the latter lets you record videos in 15, or 60-second intervals, which is great for parts of songs or to garner support for your other mediums. YouTube is popular, and Show4me can help raise funds for concerts, as each one can cost only a dollar! Streamfox is another option but I haven’t checked it out yet. My favorite app so far is Sessions: Live Music Streaming. I find it particularly useful, as they pay musicians. It used to be more, but with the pandemic onset, the return has dwindled. For some of us, it’s better than making no money.
When I livestream, I use the camera in my laptop for YouTube and Sessions Live Music Streaming (SLMS) with a USB plug-in microphone, and my iPhone for Facebook simultaneously, just in case some folks won’t or can’t download the SLMS app. If you want to get super technical, there are a plethora of tutorials on using a video capture card with a DSLR camera; Coalition gaming on YouTube seems to know what they’re talking about. Adding OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) can really step up your game, and can also show your YouTube, CD, website, and various social media account links.
Be careful to keep your phone in the upright orientation, otherwise, it can look unprofessional for your listeners and viewers. A tripod, like Joby’s Grip Tight One CP Stand, can help with this. I’ve even invested $30 in a fancy-schmancy light which delivers a beautiful presentation when I play in the evening and helps during the day as well.
Many musicians/studios are providing or performing live online, and many of my Hawaii musician friends chimed in for this article.
Ellen Keehan: “Go live in social distant fest. It’s a group on Facebook with plenty of viewers, and you can share your post to your personal page later!”
Steve Fundy: “I thought it would be a great idea well before corona times, in the face of declining attendance at shows. I had planned to start doing some livestreaming shows. Now it’s a common thing, but I find myself unable to stay interested more than a few minutes, no matter who it is or how excellent their performance is.”
Scott Reagan: “Livestreaming is a great way to share your artistry and passion for making music with the world, especially in this time where we need to social distance. Most musicians enjoy, if not thrive, on the sense of community that live music creates. A lot of those same musicians need to make money doing what they love to be able to justify the amount of time that they invest. Livestreaming can be a successful venture, but it has its drawbacks. It’s expensive to adequately capture the ‘live’ experience, and I don’t think the general public has caught on to the idea that these hard-working musicians are trying to make a living still. It’s not just that a virtual tip jar is a cute concept. I’m glad we have the technology to support this movement at this time, but I hope that we can get back to something resembling the way things were, for the musicians and for the lovers of live music.”
Paul Suppo: “From the perspective of a non-performing musician, it’s great to see the bands and people I love livestreaming. However, it’s also a reminder that we are forced to be distant, watch in low sound quality, and without that personal connection. Maybe if the time was taken to properly input the sound into the broadcast the experience might feel more real, but overall, it’s not a music video, it’s not a public performance, mostly it’s an iPhone share of some people in their living rooms. One aspect of a great performance is the connection to the crowd and for the crowd feeling like the performance is directed to them. Something is lost in streaming besides the sound quality. The whole experience borders on sadness, I hate to say. I want to be sure that my comments are not dismissing the beautiful people and awesome talents we have here, nor the thanks I give for these broadcasts, but they are not the real thing and keeping attention is a struggle for the viewer. But you do have our hearts and aloha and we cannot wait to see you in person very soon.”
If Sessions Live Music Streaming sounds good, download the app and go to Ukulele Uma during my six scheduled times. To find those, visit https://umaojeda.weebly.com/ You can also join my crew there to help me gather stars and eventually real dollars!
Also, my TikTok is @Loveguruuma, YouTube (with over 600 videos) is UmaSings as I livestream ukulele & vocals and share my books talks https://youtu.be/mBHIr1GGgvQ @LoveiscrazyUma on Twitter or @Uma Ojeda Love Guru Uma Ojeda on Facebook & Instagram Umaojeda. Everything including CDs, Book excerpts & Amazon links at https://umaojeda.weebly.com/
Featured image: Caspar Camille-Rubin