JBoyle is a freelance blog writer who has contributed this post of helpful tips for your at-home concert setup based on her time organizing a small event with her friends and family.
There’s no questioning that 2020 has been an odd year, to say the least. The global pandemic has flipped the world on its head and has paralyzed most of the modern world. And while many industries have been affected by it, I personally can attest that its effects on the music industry have been catastrophic. Both the local and global music scene have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, as both small shows and huge concerts everywhere have been canceled indefinitely.
And with concerts being projected to not resume until 2021 at the earliest, musicians have had to be more creative when it comes to performing and sharing their craft with the world. One thing that I have had some experience with is organizing an online concert. The internet has become one of the most popular mediums for music during the pandemic. Concerts have transitioned into the digital space, allowing audiences from all over the world to enjoy music from the comforts of their own homes. However, what I thought would be a trivial experience, turned into so much more as there is a lot that goes into organizing these shows.
To give this a little context, a couple of friends and I thought it would be fun to organize a small concert for our closest friends and family. We did this in hope of raising everyone’s morale during the peak period of quarantine where everyone was experiencing cabin fever. We went into this knowing close to nothing about online streaming so we had to learn everything on the fly. So I’ll be listing down everything I learned while doing this in hopes of helping you pull off a similar show.
Get the Right Equipment
While I never really had any experience with this other than the instruments that I played, I was surprised to find out that equipment played a bigger part in live performances than I initially thought.
This may be more of my personal ignorance, but I wasn’t aware of the different types of microphones and which ones were the best for live performances. I was also surprised to learn, after having to borrow mics from my other musician friends, that some of the best mics for vocals were also suitable for capturing the sound of instruments. This is made possible thanks to their versatility and high-quality recording capabilities. We used a Sennheiser E835, as it was what we had on hand. It’s also a good choice as it can be run on batteries, making it pretty portable and easily adaptable to any setting. I had been informed that because the performances would be streamed online, getting the right type of mic was of the utmost importance. I also had to make use of an audio interface to connect the mic to the computers. Think of this as the bridge between the analog and the digital — making this piece of equipment vital to the entire process. We ended up borrowing an audio interface from one of my buddies that’s fond of recording his practice sessions. We used a Scarlett 2i2 which really helped up the quality of the microphones.
Prepare the Space
While classical music is usually performed in spaces that are built to amplify the quality of this type of music, such a luxury isn’t readily during the global pandemic. However, there are quite a few things you can do to prepare your own space to make it suitable for musical performances. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to streaming classical music is noise.
This could be particularly difficult if you live in a noisy part of town, but this does not mean that there are no ways around it. Using heavy curtains for the windows is a great way to keep sound out. You can even take it further by sealing the windows off with foam that you can tape around the windows. While it is not the most attractive solution, it is a handy workaround if you’re pressed for resources.
Choose a Platform
Lastly, your choice of streaming platform will certainly play into how many people get to see your performance. While we chose to perform on Zoom to make the performance a little more intimate, this may not be the best option if you want a bigger audience.
YouTube is a great option due to the size of its daily users. There is no disputing that YouTube will give you the most potential reach due to the sheer number of users on the site, which also means that your performance could get lost in the sea of other videos on the site. Facebook Live or Instagram Live is a great way to share your live performance within your community of existing friends and followers, as it allows you to notify everyone who likes your page that you are streaming a performance.