Back in 2019 on a random Saturday I decided to go live on Instagram on a whim. I had a free weekend to myself (not common when you have a family life to tend to) and took advantage of the free time by sharing some music with the internet.
When you play a gig you're prepared and rehearsed and more or less wing it when it comes to between song banter as you don't know who you're playing to until you turn up. It's the same online except you get the feedback in real time and there's so much more to contend with! The comments, the fact you don't have people's chatter to fill the silence between songs and it's all on you to keep things moving along. For someone like me who's not great a small talk it can be quite a challenge and also very stressful. So why do it? Well, we live in the digital world now, which has been fast-tracked thanks to COVID. Live streaming music has become the norm for musicians who still want to connect with their audiences and we need to get up to speed on handling the technology side as well as create, play and share our music. I would say it's an opportunity for me personally as I can't play live gigs regularly with a young family at home and full time job, it's just not that feasible. I love my sleep too much to be perfectly honest and I don't want to lose the reason why I make music in the first place - it's fun and it's great to share with other people. So live streaming seems like the most obvious option.
But where to start? Well like I said at the start, I hit the 'go live' button on Instagram on a whim which worked out pretty well for a first timer. I had a few folk turn up and enjoy the songs, I made quite a few gaffs which had people laughing and in the end I had this rush of adrenaline that you often get after playing a gig.
Even though I left it a year before I considered jumping in again, last week I started a new mini-series #MondayMatinee live stream on Facebook. I thought trying a different platform (are they really that different?) might give me a bit more control over the process and planning it out as a weekly stream will give it more structure and purpose. Also... on a totally practical level I am due to have a baby early next year so this is an experiment to see how I fare in the streaming world before making a decision on when I am able to go for it properly.
The first stream went really well I'd say - even though it was on a Monday morning, I did get some people turn up and enjoy the stream. The tech gremlins were out in force though so that's something to contend with when I go live again. I guess the difference between live streaming and live gigging is it doesn't really matter if things go wrong, you just have to make the best of it and carry on. There's something liberating in that for a musician - letting go of things you cannot control!
So here's to live streaming - you are scary, daunting and at times intimidating but you also allow us musicians to connect, laugh at ourselves and share our music to the whole world from the comfort of our own homes. I think we might just be pals after all.