Yesterday I had the privelidge of presenting on a panel about the role of online performance in building a fanbase for the modern musician. I had the pleasure too, of drinking beer in a happily crowded pub in London, with many of the wonderful and talented artists that came along. Ideas flowed, fantastic yarns were relayed (some of which involved Micheal Jackson, and I probably am not at liberty to repeat them!). All in all, a wonderful evening, but it left a lot of poeple, including me, wishing I had got my damn book out earlier – the one that tells you about how to make a living playing music online.
So, in the interim between me getting a move along, and you guys wanting to get the hell online and do some shows, I thought I’d post about the one I recommended a lot of you as the simplest place to start – Stageit.
Compared to the VR world of Second Life, and the hybrid platform Streamjam, and even some of the other broadcast channel setups, Stageit is by far the simplest to use. Second Life might have the most established economy and advertising infrastructure, but it sure can be a pain in the proverbial if you haven’t done this kind of thing before. Stageit, as it happes, is also quite lucrative. Refreshingly, compared to the other broadcast channels, it doesn’t bombard your viewers with adverts for laxatives in the middle of your most poignant love song (or hard out shred-solo).
The only tricky part about playing in stageit at all is sorting out “stage one” of the signal chain – ie getting your sound into your computer. A lot of you will have done this without realising, as it is a similar setup to what you use for home recording, so if you are set up for that, chances are you can almost plug and play If not, or you want to make sure, head over to “Part 1 – Gear” The two key ingredients are an audio interface and (possibly) a mixing desk, so often, you will already have this stuff lying around.
Once you have that side sorted out, you will also need a webcam. The best kind to get are ones WITHOUT an inbuilt microphone as these cause embarassment with audio sources. If yours does have a mic though, its not the end of the world, you just have to be wary of selecting the right audio source when it comes time to play!
Head over to www.stageit.com where you should see something like the image above. In the top rigth hand corner there is a grey box that says “log in” and “sign up”. Click on “sign up”. Its actually a pretty simple and transparent process. You can set up an image and a profile blurb and so on. Setting up an actual show is the only slightly tricky part – its on the blue bar near the top, two accross from the “stageit” logo and says “create a show”.
You will be asked to pick a time and date. Make sure you have selected your own timezone, and set your show up to be at least a week into the future so you can promote it. You can set the number of tickets to anything you like too. Be aware that Stageit limits its show times to 30 minutes, plus a 20 minute encore, but it will show how much time you have left for the lengh of the broadcast so dont panic about being cut off.
Having set up your show, you should ge advertising. Depending on what territories your listeners are from, you might want to do time conversions for different territories. I have a lot of listeners from Second life, so I use SLT, as well as in the states, UK, Germany and New Zealand – so yes, it can be a headache. The best tool I have found for timezone conversions is “world time buddy” which looks like this:
and can be found here.
Before you do your show, you should have a soundcheck to make sure everything is working. You can do this without being on air. Just log into Stageit, click on “my shows” (in the blue bar area ner the top of the page) and then on “upcoming performances” (in tiny green writing at the top of an almost blank page). You will then see a green button around half way down the screen and on the left that says “go to stage”. Click on that.
You will see a grey column to the left appear, and a chat area to the right. The grey area will have a white box in it asking you to allow an application to control your camera. Click on “allow”. You should then see yourself on screen.
Below the screen is a set of tabs for controlling audio and video quality, and source. Click on the audio tab and check that the sound source is set to your soundcard. You can also use a scrollbar to set the quality of the sound. If you have an insanely low bandwidth you may want to take it down a notch. I never do and have never had issues with lag or stuttering. You can do the same in the video tab aswell – setting the video quality as high or low as you like. Seeing as your shows are about music, if you are on a low bandwidth connection, turning down the image quality is the better option. In all honesty though, I never have listeners reporting any problems when I have both audio and video set to max.
When you are ready to start playing, hit the “go live” button to the right of the audio and video control area. Keep an eye on the chat too, as anyone tying in there, you should respond to and the audience are what makes it fun to be there. If they tip you, it will show up in chat too, and you should make sure you have any links you want to post into chat (for places people can order your albums for example) are on your clipboard for easy pasting into chat. You can also set up links to merch and music in your channel page, but I find the chat is an effective suppliment, as it is in real time.