You’ve done some playing and singing. You’ve written some songs. You’ve got this whole “music” thing down to some degree, and now you’re thinking about gigging or recording.
But you’re bewildered. You don’t know how to get started with the maddening, intimidating, even terrifying pile of hardware and software that gets used in modern production. This series is for you. It should help you understand a little more about what’s going on, so you’re not as mystified.
We’re Going In!
Obviously, what we’re working with is sound – a vibration in something physical that we can hear. Any real dive into the physics of sound is beyond the scope of this series, but you should be aware that all sound:
1) Has an intensity, or amplitude.
2) Has a rate of vibration, or frequency.
Sound has other properties as well, but these two will be the most important for a basic understanding.
Now, then. The fundamental key to all audio production is that we MUST have sound information in the form of electricity. Certain instruments, like synthesizers and sample players don’t produce any actual sound at all; They go straight to producing electricity.
For actual sound, though, we have to perform a conversion, or “transduction.” Transduction, especially input transduction, is THE most important part of audio production. If the conversion from sound to electricity is poor, nothing happening down the line will be able to fully compensate.
Transducers come in various forms, but the most commonly recognized sound-to-electricity transducers are microphones.
Microphones come in a large array of sizes, shapes, and behaviors. They all derive from one of two basic flavors, though:
1) Dynamics, which use wire coils and magnetism to generate current.
2) Condensers, which create a “variable capacitor” to produce current.
You should be aware that there are sub-categories for each basic flavor, such as moving-coil dynamics, dynamic ribbons, “active” dynamics, electret condensers, tube-amplified condensers, and whatever else the industry can cook up. However, in the most common scenarios, what you can keep in mind as a baseline is that dynamic mics don’t fundamentally require a steady supply of electricity to work, whereas condensers do.
Another generalization that can be made is the overall character of the microphone flavors. Although all microphones react quickly by human standards, dynamic microphones have moving parts which tend to be “heavy.” The moving portion of a condenser microphone can have far less mass, which makes for a vibration sensor that can start and stop moving very easily. Condenser mics are a common choice for the transduction of quiet, “delicate,” or “complex” sounds, and condensers can more easily be extremely accurate – but this does not necessarily mean that condensers are correct for what you need to do. There are plenty of dynamic mics which sound very pleasing on a tremendous variety of sound sources, and they tend to be more resistant to accidents and mishandling (although dynamic ribbons can be very fragile indeed).
Microphones also differ from one another in terms of their directionality, or the relative sensitivity of the microphone at different angles around the microphone element. This is also referred to as the “polar pattern,” in reference to how this directionality is commonly plotted on specification sheets. In terms of the basic microphone types, any directionality is possible. There are omnidirectional dynamics and ultra-selective condensers, and the opposite is also true. A list of common polar responses includes:
1) Omnidirectional, which has essentially the same sensitivity at all angles around the element.
2) Figure-Eight, which is sensitive to the front and rear, and tends to reject sound from the sides.
3) Cardioid, which is highly sensitive to the front, somewhat less so at the sides, and has a point of very low sensitivity at the back.
4) Super-Cardioid, which is highly sensitive to the front, less sensitive than a cardioid at the sides (with a particular side angle which is very low sensitivity), and has some sensitivity at the back.
5) Hyper-Cardioid, which is like super-cardioid, but narrower and with a more pronounced “sensitivity bump” for sounds coming from behind.
In many applications, mics with strong directionality are often preferred and even necessary. However, omnidirectional transducers see quite a bit of utilization as well, especially when accuracy is needed or tonal consistency at varying distances is required.
To close this installment, it’s worth talking about another kind of transducer, the “contact mic.” Contact transducers aren’t really microphones at all, in the sense that they are not designed to work well with sounds in air. Rather, they are intended to be fixed to a vibrating surface, which causes the element to deform or flex and thus create an electrical current. This is a piezoelectric effect, and so these pickups are often referred to as piezos.
Contact transducers generally sound rather artificial when compared with microphones, but most microphones aren’t in direct physical contact with a sound source. At the same time, piezo pickups can be very handy for dealing with certain problems, like instruments which need to be made disproportionately loud with minimal feedback.
Back in the heyday of the Grateful Dead, a special sub-scene emerged: The Tapers. Not to confused with tapirs, an exotic animal, Tapers would record the live shows to share with other people later.
Does that sound familiar?
I would argue that, in many ways, livestreaming your show is a new form of taping. It’s an attempt to capture part of the experience so as to give something to your current audience, and hopefully reach some new enthusiasts as well.
The thing with taping or livestreaming is that the physics and logistics have not really changed. Sure, the delivery endpoints are different, especially with livestreaming being a whole bunch of intangible data being fired over the Internet, but how you get usable material is still the same. As such, here are some hints from the production-staff side for maximum effectiveness, at least as far as the sound is concerned.
1) Directional microphones are your friend.
While it might seem like a good idea to grab a wide, or even 360 degree soundfield, you will generally get a better result overall by being selective. Especially if you’re streaming from a bar or club, it’s really not a great idea to capture all the conversations, room reflections, and general disruption happening around you. A full-on shotgun mic probably isn’t necessary; Just find a decent cardioid or super-cardioid and point it at what you want to hear.
2) Keep your gear out of the way. Super out of the way, actually.
Audiences have an incredible ability to walk into, stand on, swat, and otherwise mess with your recording setup, often without even trying. Endeavor to find a spot where your streaming goodies are protected from the general public. The audio human’s spot can be pretty good for this. Just remember to ask politely first.
3) Run your own gear as much as possible.
As a sound operator, I am (as a rule), happy to help by pressing record on your device. However, it’s important to understand that the start of a show can be a bit like getting an airliner off the ground: A lot is going on that requires my close attention. I may end up forgetting to hit the little red button. If you can do it yourself, that’s much better.
Also, if there is any complexity at all to getting things rolling (beyond just pressing the aforementioned button), you really should take care of it yourself. It’s THE way to ensure success.
4) A direct feed might sound better, but…
…remember that many direct feeds are just a split from some output, often the main bus. There are many rooms and situations where the main bus is carrying a ton of vocals and just a touch of a few other things. Unless the PA is truly doing all the heavy lifting, you may find that a line-level feed isn’t musically balanced.
I like clean audio as much as anybody – maybe even more – but I can also recognize when “clean” isn’t necessarily the best capture of the show as a whole.
(There are some ways around this conundrum, but they are beyond the scope of this article.)
5) If you want a feed, please do your advance work.
Find out the day before, or earlier, what kind of connections and signals might be available to you. Sometimes, it’s easy for a sound tech to get something sorted out for you…and sometimes, it’s nearly impossible. The difficulty generally rises as the amount of time before the show decreases.
And please, please, educate yourself on the different kinds of audio connections that you might run into, and have your own adapters. Again, when speaking for myself I can say that I’m happy to help out in whatever way I can – but it’s always best when YOU are “Johnny On The Spot” in terms of having what you need to make your own gear play nicely with everything else.
A while back, I went out to see a hard-working Schwilly Family Band at a venue near my house.
They dazzled the crowd with grace and charisma in a way I hadn’t seen before.
They get booked a lot, playing about 300 shows a year.
They had one of the most diverse and interesting merch setups I’ve seen in a long time. ALL homemade stuff. Even the CDs.
They were truly impressive in every way, so I figured they must be making some pretty decent money.
As it turned out, they were still struggling to make ends meet and to make sure they had enough gas to make it to the next city.
It only took a short conversation in front of their awesome merch table to get to the bottom of it.
They had implemented the genius idea of DIYing their merch. Really beautiful and creative stuff. And a GREAT way to save on costs.
But then they undid their efforts by WAY underpricing their stuff.
Here’s the deal:
DON’T try to be the “Walmart” of music. They have to move a LOT of volume to make up for their small profit margins. And you’re not ever going to move that kind of volume.
You make premium art, which should be reflected in your pricing.
If you have the time and creativity to make your own merch (or anything else related to your business), that’s great! Use that as an opportunity to lower your costs… NOT your prices.
Otherwise you’re just undercutting other musicians, undervaluing your own work, and reducing the perceived value of music in general.
And worst of all… you’re being your own slave labor!
Put a value on your time. Account for that in your pricing, and pay yourself for your work.
I promise that REAL fans will be happy to pay what your stuff is worth. And those who aren’t, must not be that into you. So there’s no reason to cater to them.
It kind of reminds me of an unsubscribe message I got recently: “Thanks, but I’m trying to save money”.
I didn’t bother to respond to her, since she has opted out of receiving my free advice.
But I’ll happily give that advice to you…
“Saving Money” and “Making Money” are two VERY different goals. But it’s a LOT easier to save money when you’re making money (as opposed to saving it as a way of avoiding spending it).
As Adam Carolla (an actual rich guy who started out poor) says:
“Focus on making dollars, not saving pennies.”
When I was working for “The Man” just to make ends meet and living from paycheck to paycheck, my savings account was full of dust.
But now that I MAKE money and pay myself first by funneling 10% into a secret savings account before I even touch it, I have enough in there to cover a few months worth of expenses if anything goes wrong.
If you want to learn REAL business skills (which are often at odds with conventional wisdom), that’s exactly what I teach in the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program.
If you want to start MAKING money so that you can start SAVING money, the best thing you can do for yourself is invest in an education that will teach you how.
“Hey, Man. It’s a touch loud in the house. Can I trade you some amp volume for monitor gain?”
“But my amp’s only on, like, two!”
Have you been part of a conversation like this? I have. It rarely ends well, because somebody is always frustrated or disappointed at the end. Oftentimes, there are at least two somebodies: The audio human and the amplifier user.
The sticking point in the debate is an idea that “low knob position = acceptable volume.” Unfortunately, this notion is anything but watertight. The reality is that acceptable volume = acceptable volume, with the position of any relevant control being nearly immaterial.
To put it another way, the position of the knob is the cause, and the resulting audio output is the effect. In the end, the effect is what matters. If the effect is causing a problem for the band, then the “state” of the cause isn’t a valid argument that the overall result is okay.
Nobody has ever fought a speeding ticket by claiming that the car’s accelerator was only a third of the way down.
The same reasoning also applies when the disagreement ventures into drive percentages. Somebody might say, “I’m only using about 10% of the amp, and for it to sound right I need at least 40%.” That’s fair enough in some respects, but it points to an issue of bringing an artillery piece to a neighborhood cap-gun game. If the amplifier doesn’t sound good until most people think it’s too loud to sound good, then the amplifier doesn’t actually sound good.
It’s the wrong tool. And the wrong tool at the right price, or with the right look, or with the right capabilities for some other job is still the wrong tool.
If two is too loud for the band, then two is too loud. If you’re finding yourself in this kind of situation, it may be time to do some horse-trading. Find yourself a rig that’s just a little too hot for the band when it’s wound up all the way, and you’ll have lots more room to actually use the front-panel settings for creative control.
You might even end up with something easier to carry, as a bonus. (Maybe.)
Over the years that I’ve worked with you, many things have become apparent. One of those concepts is that, quite often, you need me to make some sort of change in the middle of a show. Often, that change is necessary to make your life on stage more comfortable, such that you can create the best possible experience for your audience.
At times, it may have been hard to get that change made for you. Such difficulties commonly arise due to communication problems. As such, I am writing this letter to help you transmit your needs and wants to the audio humans you will inevitably encounter.
First and foremost: Please use your words.
I understand that there is a stubborn stigma attached to “talking through” an issue in the middle of a show. However, any aesthetic problems this can cause are quite minor, especially when you consider that not getting a need met may cause real problems with your performance.
When it comes to a complex topic, especially in a pressure situation, the ability of spoken language to convey nuance and relay information unambiguously is a huge bit of leverage. By speaking over the PA, you can make it very clear, say, that “I think my vocal is starting to feed back in the highs.” There’s actually a lot of information in that sentence, yet it comes across quickly and elegantly when turned into speech.
On the flipside, I’m not sure how that concept would be effectively transmitted by way of hand signals – unless there was a lot of rehearsal time with the engineer involved.
Also, concerts are full of distractions to the eye. A sound operator may have their visual attention elsewhere, while still devoting their ears to the music. As such, addressing them over the PA is generally a sure method for getting their full attentiveness returned to you.
My second point is in regards to visual signals: Think big, think simply, and think patiently.
When you don’t have the opportunity to verbalize a request, visual communication is a necessity. However, as I’ve alluded to already, it has limitations. You have to restrict yourself to basic concepts that have a small number of interpretations, and require no rehearsal to understand.
(Many years ago, I had a musician attempt to take me through a large number of hand signs that would convey things like “The stage-left guitar needs more midrange in the monitors” and “Less reverb on my vocals for this next tune.” I can’t say that it worked out very well.)
Simplicity and “largeness” go together. Remember that the audio engineer may be quite a distance from you, causing detailed motions to become lost. Ad-hoc sign language at shows must be “big” so that it can be seen, and only so many ideas should be signaled in a short period of time.
I highly recommend the approach of “Who, What Instrument, Where, and Up/Down.” For instance: Point at the guitar player, mime the guitar playing, point at your monitor, and then make an up or down motion until the guitar level is where you want it. It’s compact, relatively unambiguous, and the involved motions are easy to see.
As to patience, please do remember that it takes time to interpret your signals, figure out how to get you what you want, and then start to make it all happen. Several seconds may have to elapse before you hear any change, and some “iteration” may have to take place before you’ve gotten exactly what you want. This is simply an inherent hazard of doing things on the fly, but when taken in stride it’s not too hard to handle.
Hopefully this all makes sense. Effective communication is important for a good show, and a little bit of forethought about how to go about it can make a huge difference.
Thank you for taking these thoughts into consideration.
The last time around, I talked about how most bands don’t need more or better gear to solve their problems. Mostly, they need to work as a team.
That idea closely ties in with equipment used to reproduce the sound of the band and it’s gear. You know – PA systems. There’s a myth about sound-reinforcement gear which can be voiced in many different ways, but usually boils down to this: “This problem will get better when we’re on a big stage, with lots of monitors and a big FOH system for the audience to listen to, all with enough power to melt somebody’s face off.”
You know what I’m going to say, of course. The above is not true.
Bigger and better reinforcement rigs are sort of like fortune or wealth, as understood by Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni. She said: “Fortune does not change men; it only unmasks them.” In the same vein, I can tell you that more and better PA rarely solves a problem with a band. Rather, it confirms the problem, or makes it more obvious.
I’ve been in more than one situation where the monitor system was far, far better than what a band was using in rehearsal. We had much more power, better initial tuning, and a ton of EQ available. Do you think the poor singer could finally hear themselves?
Not really. All that the extra toys did was confirm that the rest of the band wouldn’t give the vocalist any room to work. They were convinced that pro-audio could make up the difference in their teamwork (or lack thereof). Unfortunately, the difference was too great to be mended. There wasn’t enough gain-before-feedback to undo their steamrolling.
On the other hand, a PA becomes a powerful tool when used with an act that sounds balanced and beautiful right out of the gate. In that case, the system’s reserves can be used to optimally translate the group into whatever space they happen to be in that day. Tasteful sweetening can be applied, just as one might season a bit of carefully prepared food; Good ingredients can be enhanced, but bad ingredients will stay bad.
There are limits to these metaphors, of course. In some cases, an engineer can use a powerful system to blast over a problem. Depending on the situation, this might result in a tolerable sound. It might also be so loud that half the audience leaves. Even so, the need to take drastic measures is an unmasking: It tells you that something is very wrong somewhere.
A great PA with an experienced operator won’t fix inherent flaws with your music or performance. What it will do is make them obvious, because everything that can be improved will be improved. The unsolvable problems, then, will remain…unmasked.
I don’t think I’ve ever been a fan of any “Battle of the Bands” setup, but I’ve been a judge for a couple of them. People asked, and it was something to do.
After one such outing, a band that didn’t win was curious as to what had prevented them from reaching the top of the podium. Having conferred with one another, they had identified at least one potential “deal breaking” problem – and they asked about it:
“Do we need better equipment?”
The answer that day was “no.” The answer for most bands on most days is “no.”
What they had failed to do was to play as a team, and that made their perfectly adequate gear SEEM like a problem area. (To be specific, you couldn’t hear anything the fiddle player was doing, because nobody would give the poor guy any space.) So, of course, the answer is to spend money on a bigger, fancier amp for the fiddle player, along with some extra doodads and geegaws to fight the inevitable feedback that results from trying to make a fiddle SCREAMING LOUD…
Their gear wasn’t fancy, but it was adequate and working. The only upgrade they needed was teamwork.
Now, yes, there’s a point where instruments, amplifiers, and their associated accoutrements just can’t do the job. However, that point is best identified as an “absolute:” The setup just sounds terrible, or it’s constantly breaking down, or it’s too hard to use. If that isn’t the case, though, then it’s very likely you’re facing some sort of issue with working together properly.
If your band doesn’t sound right, but everything seems to be working decently for everyone individually, you most likely need to put your wallet away. Before you spend any money on stuff, spend time on becoming a team.
Now it is time to get into what happened the night of the show…both the great and the not-so-great.
I was driving to the venue in Ohio and had just pulled off an exit when it began snowing…HARD. I immediately began worrying about the weather impacting attendance but held out hope knowing that the band had played the venue two times previously and had packed in a large crowd both times.
And then it started snowing even harder. Fortunately I pulled into the venue’s parking lot and saw quite a few vehicles there. It wasn’t as many as I hoped to see but at least it wasn’t a ghost town and we still had about an hour to go before the band would take the stage.
DRESSED FOR SUCCESS
This is something that warrants a bit of discussion. I have a very low tolerance when it comes to how some music artists dress and present themselves during shows. I’ve had to lay into several clients over the years because of the lack of effort put into looking great on stage.
And, yes, it is a discussion I had with Amanda at one point after watching videos of some of their performances before I was brought in to help with their shows. They didn’t look BAD in those previous shows…they simply looked too casual. I always tell artists that there is a visual expectation that most fans carry into a show (whether they are conscious of it or not).
So it goes without saying that I was extremely excited when I walked into the room where the band was preparing and saw everybody was dressed to kill and the ladies’ hair and make-up were totally on point. They looked fantastic, the best I had ever seen from them…and I made it a point to yell as such upon seeing them.
You never know who is watching you perform at any given time and what it might do for you down the road (as you will see was the case for the band at the end of this article).
The band took the stage at 9:00 pm and the plan was to do the three-song FB Live broadcast at the tail end of the first set, which was expected to be around 10:00 pm.
The band hired a professional AV company to come in and set up a rear projection video screen on which we could show the FB Live broadcast to the crowd in the venue. That was set up to the side of the stage because the layout of the venue did not allow us to place the screen over the stage (which would have been optimal for what we were doing).
People were continuing to trickle in and the crowd was growing but it still wasn’t where we were all hoping it would be at the start of the first set. Making matters even more difficult was that a lot of the audience members who were there seemed a bit allergic to the dance floor and the area directly in front of the stage. And all of that seemed to be sapping some of the band’s energy as well. I had dinner with Amanda and Michael a week or two after the show and Michael admitted that the unexpectedly lower attendance was deflating when they first walked out on stage.
But they did exactly what they needed to do: they continued to perform with energy…something that would pay off as we got further into the night.
This is when things became interesting.
I was sitting with Alyce (the young lady tasked with operating the camera during the broadcast) and we were keeping an eye on where the band was in the set list. It wasn’t long before I realized we were running behind schedule. Even though the band promoted the FB Live broadcast would start around ten, it looked more like that spot in the set list wouldn’t come up until closer to 10:30.
They realized the time issue as well because there was a sudden jump in the set list and the band skipped several songs to get us closer to where we needed to be prior to the start of the broadcast.
Which created another problem that required quick thinking.
As you will see from the broadcast video below, the FB Live broadcast started with Jones Family Reunion, a song that kicks off with a female audience member being brought up on stage to take part in a fake marriage proposal from Nathan. When the band skipped several songs, they went straight to the song in the set list that was directly before the start of the broadcast. And one of the songs that was skipped was an acoustic piece that allowed Nathan to leave the stage long enough to find an audience member for the proposal at the beginning of Jones Family Reunion.
That is when Alyce said “uh-oh” and asked me what we should do. My response: We grab the first female who walks by our table to ask her to help out.
That is exactly what we did. We had to work quickly because not only did we have to get a fan on board with going up on stage in front of everybody, we needed to hurry and have her sign release forms due to the fact that the images and video of her on stage would be used for the broadcast and various marketing for the band.
So I had to ask the young lady to help out, explain to her what we needed her to do on stage, talk her through everything on the release form, have her sign it, flag down Nathan while he was performing and point to the volunteer so he knew he didn’t have to worry about finding somebody, signal to him that I was taking her back stage, and then rush her to the back stage area all in the time that the band performed that three-and- a-half minute song.
And then we ran into another hiccup. As the last song before the broadcast was wrapping up, I was standing back stage with the volunteer and Alyce, who was suddenly having a difficult time maintaining a strong Internet signal on the phone that would be used for the FB Live broadcast.
Where the venue was located, 4G access was spotty due to it being in a rural area. The venue did have open wi-fi, which had sufficient strength earlier in the evening, but the signal strength began going up and down as we were getting ready for the show to begin. The phone we were using belonged to Brittany (Amanda’s sister and the band’s keyboard player) so I made the decision to attempt the broadcast using 3G and instructed Alyce to run up on stage to have Brittany make a few adjustments on the phone.
Here is something you need to keep in mind when attempting any FB Live broadcast from a venue. A lot of artists don’t have unlimited data and FB Live broadcasts are demanding since you are live streaming both video and audio. So those artists have a tendency to use the venue’s open wi-fi. In many situations that isn’t a bad approach but you have to take into consideration that a large crowd also attempting to access that open wi-fi at the time you are doing your broadcast can slow down the signal and it could potentially impact the quality of your broadcast. Even worse, you might find yourself being booted from the signal in the middle of it.
The problem can become even more severe if patrons of neighboring businesses are also attempting to access the venue’s wi-fi, something that is quite common. I remember staying in a hotel room in Nashville for CMA Fest and the hotel’s wi-fi signal was horrible on our side of the building so I had to utilize the wi-fi from the Taco Bell location next door for the entirety of my stay. Sometimes you just have to plan for the data usage that comes with a big FB Live broadcast and suck it up.
Back to the show.
Amanda instructed the audience prior to the start of the broadcast while Alyce set up the phone with Brittany and we shuffled the volunteer on stage. As soon as we went live on FB, the folks from the AV company projected the broadcast onto the big screen set up next to the stage and we were good to go.
For as much energy as the band showed despite a lower than expected turnout, the start of the FB Live broadcast was like a switched had been flipped. Their energy instantly went to another level. People in the crowd who had been sitting down looking at their phones began looking up at the stage. They became more vocal over the course of those three songs and they slowly began making their way to the dance floor. Additionally, all of that momentum carried over into the last two hours of the show and totally changed the dynamics of the audience’s engagement with the band.
One of my favorite things about the broadcast came in the form of a comment a fan left on the Facebook Live feed, when she proclaimed the show the best she had ever seen at that venue. People had their phones out taking pics and video of the show and posting them on social media. They were doing exactly what we wanted them to do.
Here is the entire video of the FB Live feed…
In addition to the Facebook Live video, I also shot video of the performance from in front of the stage. I missed the first minute of the first song because I had to escort the volunteer for the proposal from the back stage area and, for some reason, my phone cut off at the tail end of the final song but much of this video will be repurposed for the band to use in a sizzle reel when attempting to get booked for other shows.
For any of you who are interested, the Facebook Live broadcast was captured on Brittany’s
phone, which was an iPhone 6. The video I shot from the front of the stage was done on my
phone, which is a Samsung Galaxy S5.
And for those of you who remember the picture of Amanda on Nathan’s shoulders during
rehearsal (it was included in Part 1 of this case study), here is the same shot during the actual show.
SOME THINGS ABOUT THE SHOW
One of the first things you will probably notice is that we did NOT throw the beer mug through the section of the drum shield in front of Frank’s kit. Michael contacted a company in California that manufactures the stunt glass that we wanted to use but it was going to take too long to ship it to Ohio and still have time for the glass to be cut down to the size we needed. So while we had to shelve that specific moment in the show for the FB Live broadcast, it is something we will look to implement in a show later this year. It is too good of a card to have up our sleeves to go unused.
There are some things I would like to see us do a bit differently next time. For the next
broadcast, I would like to see us utilize a three-axis stabilizer for the phone and camera. If you don’t know what that is, it is a device that holds the phone in a manner that completely
eliminates any bouncing. The user holds onto a handle bar and can move their arm all over the place and device revolves around the phone keeping it in one spot. You can get them on
Amazon with some of the better quality ones costing between $100 and $200. There are some cheaper alternatives but many of them don’t use multiple axis points for keeping the phone
steady. I’ve heard many people say that using them efficiently requires a little bit of practice so don’t chance busting it out of the box ten minutes before a show and trying to use it if that broadcast is an important one.
Another slight change I would make when doing something like this again is make sure we hold the camera on each musician for just a bit longer before moving to the next person. Alyce did a fantastic job operating the camera, mostly considering it was her first time doing it and we had limited time to rehearse it.
The engagement between the band and the camera went much better than even I anticipated. It totally changes the dynamic of doing a FB Live broadcast from a live show. Viewers are no
longer observing from a vantage point off to the side. With this approach they feel much more wrapped up and invested in the performance.
While the band struggled to get people out on the dance floor during the early part of their first one-hour set, doing the broadcast from the stage caused a radical shift in the crowd that carried on through the entire show that night. And the band even got caught up in it all, with Michael at one point getting down on his knees and playing guitar while people in the crowd threw popcorn up so he could catch it in his mouth. Below is a pic the band took during a guy/girl sing off…
And when I left the venue not long after the broadcast, I snapped this picture of the crowd
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE
Remember earlier in this piece when I said you never know who might be watching your show and to what it could lead? Prior to this show, Michael had spent the last two or three years
attempting to get booked for two big shows that he had been targeting. One was at an important venue at Geneva On The Lake (a tourist hot spot on Lake Erie) and the other at a major festival near Mentor, Ohio. He couldn’t even get them to return his calls.
The night we did this show, an individual with ties to both the aforementioned venue and festival was in attendance. He was blown away by what he saw. Within 24 hours of this show taking place, both the venue and the festival had contacted the band. One of them booked them immediately and the other is working with the band to find an agreeable date for them to perform there. Two to three years of frustration trying to get on those people’s radars was erased just like that.
This was within 24 hours of the show!
Now the band is working to take the video we captured from both the broadcast and from what I shot in front of the stage to create a short sizzle reel. That will be used when they attend trade shows attempting to get booked at festivals and college campuses. The video WILL get them a lot of shows. We also plan to add that video to the band’s website and electronic press kit and find ways to use it on social media. Keep in mind that while the audio in the videos isn’t the greatest quality, the live audio will NOT appear in the sizzle reel as it will be replaced with one of their songs playing in the background.
Compared to the number of views many of the band’s previous Facebook Live videos generated, the broadcast of the three-song set had nearly 300% more views! BOOM!
We have several big shows to prepare for that will be coming up over the next few months and we have to keep the live show fresh with new elements. The first big show is scheduled for May and that will be the band’s first experience with including pyrotechnics as part of the show. I’ve also told Amanda to prepare for the intensity of the shows to become far more physically
demanding. We are even making plans for her to perform on top of a large truss 40 feet in the air. We are also working on a bunch of ways to implement video into the show.
All of this came from a simple 12-minute, three song set created specifically for a Facebook Live broadcast. We went outside the box in what we wanted to present, did something a bit different from the normal, planned it out and rehearsed it, and then executed it in spectacular fashion.
The band has even captured the attention of an independent label based in Nashville, one that is made up of an incredible team of people with considerable experience in both the music and radio industries. The label even invited them to do an acoustic showcase during Country Radio Seminar in Nashville (that performance is taking place the same night I am writing this).
For Amanda Jones & The Family Band, 2017 is going to be an extremely pivotal year
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