8 digital platforms to host online concerts

Stream your songs

Music fans are craving music. But with the majority of the country on shutdown — and probably will be for the next several weeks — many musicians are opting to host online concerts to keep both themselves and their fans sated.

There are a few options you have for streaming your music to the public. You can perform live with your mobile phone as the camera. You can stream via a digital camera on your laptop. Or you can even record your performances and upload them as “live” performances.

Or if you really want to get creative, have your bandmates take a video and audio recording of their parts, and email them to you. Then use an app like VideoPad, PicStitch (for Google or Apple) or VidStitch Frames for Instagram (for Google or Apple) to stitch everyone’s videos together into the full song.

Then upload and share the videos to some of your favorite platforms.

Related: How to make ends meet when live gigs are canceled

Host online concerts on these digital platforms

Not sure of what platforms would be best to host online concerts? In this article, we’ll cover:

Let’s take a look.

Facebook Live

Facebook Live has become the go-to platform for live streaming events. You can stream events from a mobile phone, laptop, digital camera and laptop combination or even a video game.

It’s easy.

Facebook is already the most widely used social network in the world, and it’s available on laptops and mobile devices.

The only things Facebook isn’t on are Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Even so, viewers can mirror their iPhones to those devices or beam their laptops to Google Chromecast for a big TV experience.

You’ll have to use Facebook Live’s software — OBS, Wirecast or XSplit — but you can stream live from an individual profile, page, group or even an event. (Imagine setting up a live concert as a Facebook event and then inviting people to it.)

Related: The ultimate guide to Facebook Live for business

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YouTube Live

Alright, I know I’m a nerd. I’ve watched live women’s curling events on YouTube Live for the past two years. I’m not ashamed of it. In fact, I’ve come to quite enjoy the sport. So leave me alone.

But riveting, chess-like winter sports aside, YouTube Live can be used for anything you can think of to stream live: whether it’s news, e-sports, yoga workouts, podcasts, classroom lectures, or music concerts.

You only need a verified YouTube channel and a webcam.

 

Unfortunately, you also need 1,000 subscribers to your channel. So if you don’t have that, get started.

A great first step towards attracting subscribers would be to upload past concert videos and recently recorded performances and start promoting them on social media.

Once you pass that subscriber threshold, you can start broadcasting live YouTube concerts.

Related: How to get YouTube subscribers for your new channel

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Live

Live, not to be confused with Livestream, lives primarily in the iPhone and iPad apps, rather than their website, at least until you get into the Live software, where you can get broadcasting software for Mac or PC as a way to stream directly from your laptop.

Plug a digital camera or your mobile phone into your laptop and use it to stream online concerts, while you watch the comments and discussion on Facebook.

It’s a much better option than trying to use your laptop camera, which is never at the right angle, so we usually end up seeing up your nose.

Live lets you stream to Facebook and YouTube at the same time, as well as Twitch, Periscope, Weibo, VLC, Nginx and Wowza.

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Instagram Live

You can share a live video on Instagram for up to one hour. However, it’s live only, and after that it’s gone — no longer visible in the app — unless you share the replay of it to your Instagram Story. You also can save the video to your camera roll so you can share it on other platforms.

This means you need to schedule your Instagram Live concert to start at a certain time, make sure all your fans show up and then finish within the hour.

This option for hosting online concerts seems to be the closest to an actual live performance, since once the concert is done, it’s done and you can’t capture it again.

Instagram Live is fine if you want that kind of fleeting performance, but may not work for you if you wanted the option to access it again later, especially if you were particularly awesome that night.

Related: 3 ways to use Instagram Stories for digital storytelling

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Livestream

Livestream, which is owned by Vimeo, is a live-streaming network that lets you see live video streams about news, business, science, politics, sports, arts and entertainment and music.

You can get a Premium plan, which lets you stream live to both Facebook and YouTube, and gives you access to audience chat, polls and analytics, as well as password protection and private link sharing.

The downside is it costs $75 per month and you’re billed upfront for an annual term. There is no free option.

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ViewStub

When I first knew of them, ViewStub was a small, six-man operation working in my coworking space in suburban Orlando. Then, when the pandemic was starting and all these conferences began going virtual, they exploded with growth, helping not only conferences but churches and even musicians move into the online space.

Not only can you host online concerts with ViewStub, on your very own server and URL, you can also put up payment and/or donation options for your fans.

This means virtual conferences can charge for sessions and materials, churches can accept tithes and offerings, and musicians can accept tips and ticket payments.

Related: Add donation and payment tools on your site

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Periscope

Periscope was originally built around 2015, but was acquired by Twitter before its public launch. Since then, it has become a Twitter video tool and a great way for people to share short and long videos, from travel, food and art, to news, teaching and talk. And of course, music. It’s available in both Apple’s and Google’s app stores.

To host online concerts with Periscope, download the app to your mobile device, point the camera and start broadcasting.

 

This option doesn’t let you get fancy with extra hardware and software to produce a better sound or image. To do that, you need to become a Periscope Producer, which is a lot more complicated than the basic program. So work with the program a while before you look at becoming a Producer.

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Twitch

Twitch may primarily be a video game streaming app, but it does have several music channels, seemingly geared to more esoteric styles of music, including several deejays and solo artists.

You need to have a Twitch channel and already know how to stream your content on Twitch, but if you want reach a younger audience who maybe can’t go into bars anyway, this would be worth the effort.

You’ll need a mobile phone or camera-and-laptop setup, and you’ll also want to get the Twitch Studio for simple streaming. However, you can also use software packages like OBS and XSplit, which you would also need for Facebook Live streaming.

Related: How to use Twitch to generate interest in your music

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Some quick considerations

As I have learned by watching my wife and son do their own live performances, as well as watching other live performances, it’s possible to have bad sound.

For the best sound results when you host online concerts, either get a good microphone that picks up ambient noise clearly (a must for acoustic performers) or plug everything into your mixing board and plug that into your laptop.

Your phone’s mic is OK, but for the best results, treat this like a live, mic’d-up performance.

Also, consider getting a cheap tripod and mobile phone holder that mounts to it. It’ll give you a cleaner, more polished look.

The bottom line

Your fans want to hear from you. They want to see your music, and they’re looking for a way to make this shutdown a little more bearable and even fun. Set up your hardware and software, pick a streaming platform or two, and start hosting online concerts for your fans.

It’s not only a good way to reach your existing fan base, but you can also widen your reach, bringing more people to your live shows and even reaching new cities where you can perform.

And depending on how big your performances and your fan base, you may even find a way to make a little money off your performances.

Image by: James Stamler via Unsplash