As part of the Emanate.live Music Month on Trybe, I’d like to talk about the key elements of producing the TV-style livestream.
I started podcasting around 2008 with a show called Music Forte Radio, which became very popular as the primary media channel of the artist storefront/social network site I co-founded for Music Forte, Inc. Even though it was audio only back then, it proved to be a major onboarding channel for new artists to join our platform. Years later I started working for Nexstar Broadcasting where I produced in-house programming for NBC and FOX. This combined experience prepared me for what came next – the livestream evolution.
THE “BLAB” DAYS
Michael Birch, founder of Monkey Inferno, powered the team behind BLAB – a new video “hangout” style platform that launched around 2014. BLAB was quite an experience as several hundred thousand people joined the platform before it surprisingly shut down in 2016 while growth was still expanding.
As the BLAB software improved, users were able to conduct their own branded livestream shows in early 2015. Thousands of livestream shows were being produced, some amateur and some more professional. One of those shows was Indie Music LIVE! – hosted by myself and my biz partner JoeJoeKeys as part of our music business Indie Music Plus.
Fast forward three years now, and from all those thousands of branded livestream shows produced on BLAB, there is only ONE that I know of that is still running on its own…Indie Music LIVE! And the show has now become the centerpiece of our business.
Key Elements Of A Successful Livestream
The old adage of “95% of startups fail within the first year” also applies to new media ventures, including livestream series. In my experience observing closely the livestream series startup, I’d say it’s actually closer to 99% failure. I’d like to express here what I feel are the key elements to building a long term series that increases visitors and actually helps your brand.
Find A Producer/Showrunner
Right around Episode 30 we partnered with Rob Hix of Hixvideo and everything changed for the better. He’s still with us today as we’re about to shoot Episode 150. Rob manages the entire daisy chain of software needed to now run Indie Music LIVE! and uses about 128 Gigs of RAM on multiple computers. He also does the graphics, lower thirds, scene switching for guests, audio controls, show cards, tagging and a bunch of other neat tricks while we simulcast to Facebook, Youtube and Periscope all at once.
Rob is a Zoom.us Enterprise partner which includes software features not offered to the public, and he now charges close to $500 US per show for new clients. Rob is easily one of the best technicians in the biz, but there are others that do this at far less cost. Feel free to reach out if you’re interested, I know a few producers that are more geared toward smaller biz brands.
Aside from the major upgrade in quality, my point here is FOCUS!!! JoeJoe and I attempted to run ALL the controls ourselves in the early episodes, and when I go back and watch those now it’s embarrassing. We were constantly looking off screen to push buttons, change layout, read comments, etc…and would often lose our place in conversation with guests. The show would also run 60 – 90 minutes with tons of dead space and shoddy graphics which loses viewers. With Rob at the controls, now we just show up and focus on hosting, critiquing the music, and having a much more intelligent conversation with the guests. It made a HUGE difference and the show is much tighter now at 30 – 45 minutes and there is NO MIXING required when the show ends, it all archives instantly.
Identify Your Product Or Brand Message
While it may seem fun in the beginning, a show that has no clear goal eventually becomes a burden and a waste of time. This is another reason why most livestream series ultimately disappear.
Indie Music Plus provides low cost promotional services for artists, as well as critical reviews and mastering. Once we fine tuned Indie Music LIVE!, it actually became a service to be featured as a guest in the show! We highlight our services in the show and announce discounts and specials in the intro and at the end. We have reviewed 1000’s of artists now in the past few years and have a blast doing it, BUT the point here is there is a clear GOAL in how we produce it. There is a purpose for the content.
Social, Tagging, and Engagement
Consistent networking and messaging on Social Media is all part of the Livestream “machine” as well. It’s important to build your audience independently of your media events, otherwise it’s like playing a music gig to an empty room. We spent a great deal of time networking and curating content since mid 2015 and have built a social following of nearly 250,000 combined on the major social channels. Social media feeds the livestream engagement and vice versa.
Tagging is a very simple technique that has worked wonders over the years, but again you must be consistent with it. Stay conscious that every social media platform has its own search engine, and don’t just target Google only. Tagging guests, brand pages, hashtags, etc…do it every time and you’ll notice better statistics.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR VIEWERS! Respect that the people watching have taken time out of their day to be present with you. Call them out, say hello, and answer their questions. Without your supporters you are just talking to a brick wall.
Once you start to get your livestream series all polished up and running smooth, here’s a simple technique to help you build your list of guests – JUST ASK! Yes, it’s very often that simple. Even if you don’t get that many viewers, you may be surprised at how many guests say “YES” when you ask them to be on your show. Remember, guests will share your livestream with THEIR fans too and this creates a snowball of growth for both of you.
Now coming full circle back to Emanate Music Month. I reached out to Sean, Jimi, and the Emanate team back in early 2018 to get involved in their new EOS-based music platform. I am now part of their advisory team to help onboard indie artists, but it all started by simply asking them to be guests on Indie Music LIVE!…pretty cool, eh?
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