It’s probably going to be a long time before any of us get to go to a concert again. Thanks to this global Corona lockdown, us music fans will likely miss out on seeing our favourites bands and artists for the rest of 2020, and most importantly artists across the globe have been stripped of their main source of income. We’re a resourceful community however, and one of the ways artists and their fans have been filling the gap left by the absence of proper gigs over the last few weeks is through live streaming. While the world is at a standstill artists can still broadcast to fans all around the globe. It’s a brilliant idea, one that I hope will take root and become more prevalent in the future. We’ve been enjoying a fair few already, but we’ve certainly noticed that not all streaming platforms are created equal, and at times it can make or break the experience. Brace yourselves as we put our ranting hats on and look at the best and worst options on offer.
The photo sharing behemoth has quickly established itself as both the most popular live streaming platform for music… and the worst. Instagram’s popularity and accessibility has made it people’s go-to option, and while it does a great job of promoting live streams with push notifications and emblazoning them at the top of your screen ahead of stories, it does have some major drawbacks. The chat appears onscreen in front of the video you’re trying to watch, there’s no way for artists to directly monetise the stream such as by letting viewers donate, and it’s a mobile only platform which leaves it feeling lacking compared to other desktop alternatives. It may be the easiest option, but it’s far from the best.
One of the biggest streaming platforms out there. Twitch streamers often pull big audiences and can make a lot from donations. The trouble is however that the platform is predominantly for gaming and we are mere interlopers in their domain. It’s not a place where artists have an existing fan-base like on other social media outlets, it’s somewhere that they’d have to direct people to from elsewhere which adds a needless extra hurdle to the process. It’s also one of those platforms like Tik Tok and Discord that only really makes sense to teenagers. My millennial brain can’t get past the UI, it reminds me of myself when I was a teenager: ugly and awkward.
We’ve been big fans of Stageit for a while now. They were well ahead of the curve when it comes to live-streaming gigs. This is the music world’s answer to Twitch. It has all the utilities you need like live chat and the option to leave tips, and while the UI still isn’t exactly pretty it is a bit of a step up. You do even have a few artists that already regularly perform on Stageit and have an existing following. As it’s not a big name platform like the others on this list however, for most artists it has the same problem as Twitch in that you’ll most likely need to direct people to it from elsewhere.
It may have lost some of its street cred in recent years, but most of us still have Facebook and use it fairly regularly. Moreover it’s usually one of the platforms where bands and artists have the most followers, and therefore a bigger audience. This is where you share all your news and announcements, so why not host your livestream here too! It sends out notifications like Instagram to bring fans in for you, and it will save the stream as a video at the end if you so wish. The only major drawback is in its lack of monetisation; fans have no way to offer up tips or donations to help out the artist.
YouTube just feels homely and familiar. While other sites may be slightly better in certain particular aspects, YouTube manages to bring everything together. If you’re subscribed to a channel it will tell you exactly when the next livestream is and lets you set a reminder. You can pause and rewind while you’re watching, the UI is clean and tidy, you can chat as well as pay tips (assuming the channel has over 1000 subs), and if you happen to miss the stream completely then the artist can save it as a video on their channel after the fact. As most artists should generally be uploading their music and videos to YouTube anyway, they should hopefully already have a few subscribers under their belt, or at the very least it is somewhere that their fans will already be familiar with. Easily our favourite live-streaming platform. All it needs now is some way to arrange a schedule like a virtual festival program given all the extra streams headed our way!