Over the last couple of months, one thing has become very clear: We are in the age of live streaming. At any given time, you can live stream anything you want, regardless of whether your followers want to see it or not. Influencers and celebrities go live often, letting their fans into their world and presenting a no-filter look at who they really are. It’s a great way to appear “real” and approachable. Before Coronavirus, going live wasn’t as common as it is now. And I wonder if – once the world is back in action – it will remain as popular as it has become.
There are pros and cons to going live and I want to delve into a few of them with you today. As I am an independent musician, with a relatively small audience, I will be addressing the pros and cons from that point of view. I would be really curious to know, readers, how live streaming has impacted your music career over the last couple of months, whether positively, negatively, or if it hasn’t made a difference at all.
My first livestream was day 2 of lockdown. I was sad, guys. It was like a bad year was just getting worse, and it was only March. So I took my keyboard out onto my balcony and I did a little live stream on my Instagram (@alexcarpiofficial). I played mainly covers and it made me feel a bit better, I also got some smiles and waves from the few people walking on South Wharf. At this point, live streaming was a novelty. I had maybe 10-20 people tune in over the time I was on, which was a nice pledge of solidarity in my mind.
There’s no doubt that social media is amazing at bringing people together and making everything accessible. I remember feeling amazed at everyone’s efforts, over the first couple of weeks of lockdown, to bring music from their living room into ours. Isol-aid (@isolaidfestival) started on Instagram, an initiative conceptualised by Merpire (@merpiremusic) and I got to watch live sets from Angie McMahon, Gretta Ray, Stella Donnelly and more. I was grateful for live music being so accessible. If this had happened in the 80’s, we wouldn’t have had any of the things we have today to get us through it.
But can you have too much of a good thing? Shortly after, I would pick up my phone to 10 Instagram notifications, all alerting me that people were live. There were SO MANY. Everyone was going live at every second of the day, and the novelty was starting to wear off. I didn’t go live again for a while, nor did I tune into many. I think one of the negatives of live streaming is that while you can reach your fans at any time, artists need to think about why they’re going live. You wouldn’t play a gig without a reason (maybe you have a release to promote or a bigger show coming up that you’re expanding your audience for) so why would you live stream without reason? It seemed like more and more artists were going live “just because”.
The next time I went live was a few weeks ago with @bringmethemusic, a UK-based music review account who asked if I’d be down for an interview. Of course, the answer was absolutely! We talked about Superfamous, the process behind my songwriting, and other music that we were digging. It was live on their account, so I was talking to a different fanbase which I felt broadened my horizons. We had people asking questions, and they seemed really interested in what I had to say. In this instance, we had a reason for going live and I felt good about connecting with new people. I gained some new followers as well, which is always a bonus. I didn’t play any music on this stream, but I felt like the people I was talking to got to know me, the person behind the music, and I know it was time well spent.
My most recent livestream was for a charity, @reclinkau. They support disadvantaged Australians by providing them with recreational sport and art programs. This is a cause I am 100% behind and I was really grateful to have the opportunity to go live on their account. I played a 30 minute set of some songs from my EP, some covers, and I had a chat as well. While I loved going live, I found this one a bit difficult, as I couldn’t bounce off an audience between songs. This is something I love to do usually. I always ask a couple of questions, see how everyone is going, and I usually get a couple of crowd reactions when I introduce certain songs. With live streaming, there’s none of that. I love getting my energy from a live audience. While I think I did well on the live set for RecLink, I know I would have done better in person. But I’m still really glad I went live and played some tunes for them, it was a great experience.
I’ve used this time in isolation to write music, learn new things and re-centre myself. I know that when the world is back to ‘normal’ it’s going to be full speed ahead for a lot of artists, myself included. I still need to have my Superfamous launch party that got cancelled (which I am super excited for). I think it’s been good for me to go away and recalibrate for a bit, rather than going live every 5 seconds and have everyone be sick of me by now. Going forward, I hope us artists treat going live the exact same as we would any other gig or promo we do for ourselves: do it with purpose.
Until next time,