Hosting Successful Facebook Music Livestreams with only an iPhone


Many organizations we work with don't know where to begin when it comes to hosting online content. Overwhelm is almost immediate when faced with huge tech requirements and new softwares. If you can do that, bravissimo! But I'm here to tell you, all you need is an iPhone.


Actually, all you need is an artist with an iPhone.


To hold a Facebook livestream, you first have to decide if you want to host the livestream prerecorded or entirely live.


Live, Non-Prerecorded, Livestreams


This is a type of livestream that is streamed straight from someone's phone onto Facebook without the use of any streaming services. If simplicity is what you're after, it doesn't get more simple than this.


LA Opera is a great example of an organization successfully employing this type of livestream on a regular basis. Click Here to See their Videos ->


Here is M Institute's Livestream performance from March 29, 2020, which was produced via live, non-prerecorded Facebook Live using nothing but our CEO, Susanna Barasch's, iPhone X.


Pros


- It's easy: All you do is give the performer administrative permissions on your facebook page and the performer does the rest. If you're the administrator and you're streaming the artist live on your phone, then all you do is press "Go Live."


- It feels more "real." There's really nothing like seeing and hearing someone perform live. Even the artists will perform at a different level knowing it's live, there's an audience, and there are no second chances.


Cons


- Loss of Control: You lose some control since you're not in the same room as the artist. If something goes wrong, like the microphone battery dying or slow internet connection, you can be powerless to fix the problem. The good news is a lot of this risk can be mitigated by following the steps in the next section and by hiring artists who are seasoned at doing livestreams and know how to make it successful.


- You don't have a backup copy. If something goes wrong, like facebook cuts the audio off because it thinks Mozart is copyrighted 🙄, you have no way to re-release the performance later.


- If you want a split screen Q&A after the performance or fancy overlays with your logo, it's not going to be possible.


Tips to a Successful Non-Prerecorded Livestream:


- Vet your performers before hiring them.

  • Hire an artist experienced with livestreams.

  • Ask them about their iPhone model.

  • Ask them if they have a tripod for their phone.

  • Ask them about the internet connection where they are performing. It should be at least 200 mbps fios and reliable through all kinds of weather.

  • Ask them how many people and devises are using that same internet connection. More on this later.

- Do not allow performers to use anything other than an iPhone X or later.

  • Think a computer is better than an iPhone? Think again. Facebook Live is designed to work with mobile devises, and specifically newer iPhones. I don't care what kind of computer you have, if you are doing a direct live video and not streaming through any third party software, your stream will be better on an iPhone in every way. PS: the iPhone has a significantly better camera and mic than a MacBook anyway.

- Don't use any external devises with the iPhone.

  • Trust me. I know the temptation for fancy microphones is almost too much to resist but unless you have an artist who is really experienced at this, keep it simple. Think nothing could possibly go wrong? Think again. Live-streaming puts a huge amount of demand on the devise and the internet connection. Putting in more data than it can handle will take your perfectly fine livestream and crash it. If that doesn't happen, your fancy external devise may compress the sound, or tempt facebook to do so. Even if you get past those hurdles, the mic could die or come unplugged. Keep. It. Simple.

- Plan a way to get ahold of the performer or someone in the room with the performer during the performance. You can't call your artist while the livestream is happening because they're streaming on their phone and... well... they're in the middle of performing. Come up with some way to be able to get in touch in an emergency.


- Ask your performer to remove all devises and users from their internet connection during the performance. That includes other people's phones, security cameras, SmartTVs, Alexa, etc.


- Do a soundcheck 60 mins prior. You can do this on a private facebook page and select the audience to "only me" so others won't see it.


- Decide in advance if the performance will be done in portrait or landscape orientation.


-Encourage lots of commenting and sharing of the video as it's live.



Pre-recorded Livestreams


These livestreams are either entirely prerecorded and are only being aired "as if" they were live, or have a combination of live and prerecorded elements, like a live Q&A and prerecorded performances. This requires more skill and is in general more demanding, if less risky, than the regular livestream.


Here is M Institute's Livestream from June 2020, which was produced via StreamYard using prerecorded performance footage on the artist's iPhone. The Q&A was live, also using iPhones.


Pros


-Control: You can control every element of this performance. You can try multiple takes, add your logo, play ads, stream in multiple different artists from different locations, etc... the sky is the limit. Depending on the software you use, you can have it produced entirely in advance or make it up as you go. No risk of microphones dying, internet glitches, and the unknown.


-Less pressure on the artist to execute the stream.


-You'll have a copy in case you need to re-air it due to Facebook alleged "copyright" blocks.


- If you want a split screen Q&A and. fancy overlays, this is the only way to go.


-If you want it, you can have a higher-quality livestream as far as video and audio quality goes.


Cons


- It's not as easy. You'll need softwares and you'll need to know how to work them. The higher the media quality you want, the more technical the process will get and the bigger the investment. If you want it to look like an HD CNN broadcast, you'd better find a professional. We were just happy with some overlays :)


-Software requirements:

  • Video Editing Software to edit the video footage you get from your performer. iMovie is fine.

  • Streaming software. We did ours on StreamYard.

-It doesn't feel as "real." You lose that live adrenaline.


-Lots of admin time. All these files take time to upload, download, edit, and re-upload. Not to mention you need someone producing the stream in addition to the multiple people who are featured in the stream. The artist also has to be able to transfer large files to you. It's a serious project to produce this type of livestream.


Tips to a Successful Prerecorded Livestream:


- Discuss prior to booking with the artist the media expectations of the material being submitted by the performer. If you prefer to control the quality of the content, plan a recording session with the performer.


- Though you can still do this with nothing but iPhones, if you have fancy cameras and mics, go for it. But know you're still adding time and stress to an already stressful situation. If you want a very high-quality stream, leave it to the professionals and call a producer to do it for you.


- Do a soundcheck with anyone streaming in live.


- Decide in advance if the performance will be done in portrait or landscape orientation. Everyone submitting materials for the stream will need it the same orientation.


-Encourage lots of commenting and sharing of the video as it's live.





So that's a quick rundown of stress-free live-streaming on Facebook Live with nothing but an iPhone. Livestreaming can be a great tool for the classical music industry. Years before COVID, in 2017, live-streaming actually made Nadine Sierra famous. Click here to see the New York Times and Met Opera Livestream of Nadine ->


Remember...


The key to success is not fancy cameras and high quality microphones, it's great art and great artists.


Email artists@m4arts.org to book our artists for your next livestream. In addition to providing the artists, we have staff on hand ready to help your organization every step of the way with your livestreams from use of our streaming software to running the prerecorded livestream for you.

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