How classical musicians can create income satisfaction from their live streams

 ‘Livestreaming Music in the UK – A Report for Musicians.’

Not lighting your fire? That’s ok. There’s lots of useful information in it. Especially around tech and PRS licensing.

What stood out for me was the huge dissatisfaction in the income received from live streaming. 83% of musicians surveyed found the lack of income from live streams the biggest barrier to continuing with it.

What is causing dissatisfaction with live stream income?

Equipment

Music has a powerful effect on our minds. Or rather our minds use music to powerful effect.

Well, it’s easy to look at what the big organisations are doing. For example, Wigmore Hall spent thousands on their audio and visual equipment. Once you see this content is for free, it’s easy to think you have to produce something better to ask people to pay for it.

Once you enter this realm it is easy to get seduced by the most recommended, shiny and dazzling mics out there. The tech set-up can add up . For example:

  • 2 x Condensor Microphones,  £123.00
  • Audio Interface,  £64.33
  • Microphone Stereo Bar and Microphone Stand,  £49.61
  • 2x 6 meter xlr microphone cable, £11.52
  • Webcam 1080P Live Streaming Camera,  £49.99
  • Lighting Kit, £51.99

Total: £350.44
 

This is quite an investment. Especially if you haven’t got spare cash to spend. I would be dissatisfied if I spent that much money and only made £30 in ticket sales for my first live stream.

It is possible to start out with your mobile or iPad/tablet. That’s how I started with my live streams on Front Room Concerts. I used equipment I already had. I didn’t have the spare cash to spend on extra equipment.

Could hiring be the remedy?

Hiring
 

One way to get super audio and visual technology is to hire out equipment, tech people and venues. The thought of sorting out wires, learning about audio software and live streaming can feel very daunting. Hiring someone to do this for you can help allay your fears and feel more confident. But hire fees also eat into your live stream income. If you don’t get enough live stream income to cover the fees, then you’re losing money.
 

Ticket Sales or Donations
 

The dissatisfaction comes from when ticket sales/donations don’t match up with the investment you’ve made in the performance. Your investment of time, energy and cash in the single event. This can lead you to think that live streaming doesn’t work and you can’t earn any money from it.

There is a way to fix this. It’s not just using your mobile to live stream from.

The Duck Pond at Alexandra Park, Hastings

How to create live stream satisfaction
 

The report hints at it, but it is crucial to earning from your live streams. The musicians that have done well through live streaming already had a very supportive fan base. The transition to online performances wasn’t as tough as for them. Unlike the musician’s who are starting out. The key is to invest time and energy in building your own following. Your own audience.

The Long Game
 

Commit to playing the long game. If I judged my ability to play the cello from my very first lesson, I wouldn’t be playing the cello right now. I was no child prodigy.

When you look at the long term, short term problems are small blips. Give yourself time to get better at live streaming. We are all experimenting to see what works. Look at earning money from live streaming over many performances, not one. Now the criteria for perceived success and satisfaction changes.

Smallest Viable Audience Number 
 

To help with this, work out your smallest viable audience number. Once you have this you have a target. Now you can begin measuring your progress. How do you work out this number?

  1. Work out your expenses from the live stream
  2. Set your ticket price(s)
  3. Work out how many tickets you need to sell to cover the expenses.
  4. Now you will have the smallest viable audience number.

For example:

1. Expenses:

  • Musicians Pay £300
  • Zoom Subscription £10
  • PRS Licence £25

Total = £335

2. Ticket Price = £10

3. Ticket sales needed = 34

4. Smallest Viable Audience Number = 34

Now your target is 34 active fans on your email list. Not 500. Not 1000. Only 34. It gives you the scope to build deeper relationships with followers. They can become fans of your work. The report mentions that fans are more likely to pay over £20 to watch a Livestream. Compared to £5 a ticket for performers they were unfamiliar with. This brings me to the next point.

Tickets
 

Audiences want to buy tickets for your live streams. Having to go through a paid wall doesn’t put them off. There is a continuing consensus that the price of tickets should be lower than for in-person events. I like the three ticket tier system that Live To Your Living Room use:

  • £25 ‘Pay a bit more’
  • £15 ‘Standard’
  • £10 “Pay a bit less’

It gives the audience the choice to, whilst allowing you to calculate how many tickets you need to sell to cover your expenses.

Audiences mention that they want more notification that your event is coming up. Possibly up to a month in advance. This can feel counterintuitive to the fast-paced daily news feeds of social media. A month-long promotion can help you build a sense of occasion. It gives you time to build engagement, hype and excitement around your event.

Audiences love to feel the connection to the performer(s) and other viewers. They want to be spoken to, have their questions answered and feel part of a community. When you achieve this they will come back and watch more of your live streams. Belonging is a strong connector.
 

In Summary
 

It’s easy to get seduced by the thought that you need the best audio and visual set-up. I always recommend starting to live stream by using what you’ve got first. You can put a percentage of income aside from your live streams to invest in more advanced equipment.

The valuable investment is to build your own audience. People you have built relationships around your work. Who you know will buy a ticket to your digital recital. To help give you a measurement of progress, work out your smallest viable audience number.

“90% of musicians and 92% of fans agreed live streaming will in future be a successful tool to reach audiences.” You can start doing this today. Check out the full report here.

Join the Digital Recitalist Weekly Email – a place that gives you practical advice, information and guidance so you can perform successful digital recitals and establish yourself as a fantastic recitalist.

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