In Part 2 of this post, we take a look at a Facebook Live broadcast and detail the problems, the solutions, and the benefits Amanda Jones & The Family Band enjoyed
Read Part 1: “Live streaming your show: A Facebook Live case study.“
Now it is time to get into what happened the night of the show – both the great and the not-so-great.
I was driving to the venue in Ohio and had just pulled off an exit when it began snowing … HARD. I immediately began worrying about the weather impacting attendance but held out hope knowing that the band had played the venue two times previously and had brought a large crowd both times.
And then it started snowing even harder. Fortunately I pulled into the venue’s parking lot and saw quite a few vehicles there. It wasn’t as many as I hoped to see, but at least it wasn’t a ghost town and we still had an hour before the band would take the stage.
Dressed for success
This is something that warrants a bit of discussion. I have a very low tolerance when it comes to how some music artists dress and present themselves during shows. I’ve had to lay into several clients over the years because of the lack of effort put into looking great on stage.
And, yes, it is a discussion I had with Amanda at one point after watching videos of some of their performances before I was brought in to help. They didn’t look BAD in those previous shows, they simply looked too casual. I always tell artists that there is a visual expectation most fans carry into a show, whether they are conscious of it or not.
So it goes without saying that I was extremely excited when I walked into the room as the band was preparing and saw everyone was dressed to kill and the ladies’ hair and make-up were totally on point. They looked fantastic, the best I had ever seen from them, and I made it a point to yell as such upon seeing them.
Seriously. You never know who is watching you perform at any given time and what it might do for you down the road (as you will learn if you read on).
The band took the stage at 9:00 pm and the plan was to do the three-song Facebook Live broadcast at the end of the first set, which was expected to be around 10:00 pm.
The band hired a professional AV company to come in and set up a rear-projection video screen on which we could show the Facebook Live broadcast to the crowd in the venue. That was set up to the side of the stage because the layout of the venue made it impossible to place the screen over the stage, which would have been optimal.
People were continuing to trickle in and the crowd was growing but it still wasn’t where we were all hoping it would be at the start of the first set. Making matters even more difficult was that a lot of the audience seemed allergic to the dance floor and the area directly in front of the stage.
All of that seemed to be sapping some of the band’s energy. I had dinner with Amanda and Michael a week or two after the show and Michael admitted that the unexpectedly lower attendance was deflating when they first walked out on stage.
But they did exactly what they needed to do: they performed with energy, something that would pay off as we got further into the night.
I was sitting with Alyce (our friendly cell-phone video operator) and we were keeping an eye on where the band was in the set list. It wasn’t long before I realized we were running behind schedule. Even though the band promoted the Facebook Live broadcast would start around 10 pm, it looked more like that spot in the set wouldn’t come up until closer to 10:30.
The band realized the timing issue as well, because there was a sudden jump in the set list as they skipped several songs to get us closer to where we needed to be to start the broadcast on time. But that created a problem.
The Facebook Live broadcast set was to begin with “Jones Family Reunion,” a song that kicks off with a female audience member being brought up on stage to take part in a fake marriage proposal from Nathan. One of the songs the band skipped was an acoustic piece that was supposed to allow Nathan to leave the stage to find an audience member for the proposal at the beginning of the song.
Alyce realized this and asked me what we should do. My response: grab the first female who walks by our table to ask her to help out.
That is exactly what we did. We had to work quickly because not only did we have to get a fan on board with going up on stage in front of everybody, we needed to hurry and have her sign release forms due to the fact that the images and video of her on stage would be used for the broadcast and other marketing for the band.
So I had to ask the young lady to help out, explain to her what we needed her to do on stage, talk her through everything on the release form, have her sign it, flag down Nathan while he was performing and point to the volunteer so he knew he didn’t have to worry about finding somebody, signal to him that I was taking her back stage, and then rush her to the back stage area all in the time that the band performed a three-and-a-half minute song.
And then we ran into another hiccup. Alyce was suddenly having a difficult time maintaining a strong Internet signal on the phone that would be used for the FB Live broadcast.
Where the venue was located, 4G access was spotty due to it being in a rural area. The venue did have open Wi-Fi, which had sufficient strength earlier in the evening, but the signal strength began going up and down as we were getting ready for the show to begin. The phone we were using belonged to Brittany (Amanda’s sister and the band’s keyboard player) so I made the decision to attempt the broadcast using 3G, and instructed Alyce to run up on stage to have Brittany make a few adjustments on the phone.
Here is something you need to keep in mind when attempting any Facebook Live broadcast from a venue. A lot of artists don’t have unlimited data, and Facebook Live broadcasts are demanding since you are live streaming both video and audio, so those artists have a tendency to use the venue’s open Wi-Fi. In many situations, that isn’t a bad approach, but you have to take into consideration that a large crowd attempting to access that open Wi-Fi at the time you are can slow down the signal and potentially impact the quality of your broadcast. Even worse, you might find yourself being booted from the signal in the middle of your broadcast. The problem can become even more severe if patrons of neighboring businesses are also attempting to access the venue’s Wi-Fi, something that is quite common.
Amanda engaged the audience while Alyce set up the phone with Brittany and we shuffled the volunteer on stage. As soon as we went live on FB, the folks from the AV company projected the broadcast onto the big screen set up next to the stage and we were good to go.
For as much energy as the band showed despite the lower-than-expected turnout, the start of the broadcast was like a switch had been flipped. The energy instantly went to another level. People in the crowd who had been sitting down looking at their phones began looking up at the stage. They became more vocal over the course of those three songs and they slowly began making their way to the dance floor. Additionally, all of that momentum carried over into the last two hours of the show and totally changed the dynamics of the audience’s engagement with the band.
One of my favorite things about the broadcast came in the form of a comment a fan left on the Facebook Live feed, when she proclaimed the show was the best she had ever seen at that venue. People had their phones out taking pics and video of the show and posting them on social media. They were doing exactly what we wanted them to do.
Here is the entire video of the FB Live feed. Note that the sound in all these videos is not great. Our plan is to re-purpose the video with quality audio for the band’s sizzle reel and other marketing purposes.
In addition to the Facebook Live video, I also shot video of the performance from in front of the stage. I missed the first minute of the first song because I had to escort the volunteer for the proposal from the back stage area and, for some reason, my phone cut off at the tail end of the final song.
For any of you who are interested, the Facebook Live broadcast was captured on Brittany’s phone, which was an iPhone 6. The video I shot from the front of the stage was done on my phone, which is a Samsung Galaxy S5.
Some things about the show
There are some things I would like to see us do a bit differently in the next broadcast. First, I’d like to use a three-axis stabilizer for the phone and camera, to eliminate any bouncing. The steady cam operator holds onto a handle bar and can move her arm all over the place, and the device revolves around the phone keeping it in one spot. You can get them on Amazon, with some of the better quality ones costing between $100 and $200. I’ve heard people say that using them effectively requires practice, so don’t chance busting it out of the box 10 minutes before a show and try to broadcast with it.
Another change I would make is to hold the camera on each musician for just a bit longer before moving to the next person. Alyce did a fantastic job operating the camera, especially considering it was her first time doing it and we had limited time to rehearse it.
The engagement between the band and the camera went much better than even I anticipated. It totally changes the dynamic of doing a Facebook Live broadcast of a live show when your viewers aren’t observing from a vantage point off to the side.
While the band struggled to get people out on the dance floor during the early part of their first one-hour set, doing the broadcast from the stage caused a radical shift in the crowd that carried on through the entire show that night. And the band even got caught up in it all, with Michael at one point getting down on his knees and playing guitar while people in the crowd threw popcorn up so he could catch it in his mouth.
Where do we go from here
Remember earlier in this piece when I said you never know who might be watching your show and where it could lead? Prior to this show, Michael had spent years attempting to get booked for two big shows that he had been targeting. One was at an important venue at Geneva On The Lake (a tourist hot spot on Lake Erie) and the other at a major festival near Mentor, Ohio. He couldn’t even get them to return his calls.
The night we did this show, an individual with ties to both the aforementioned venue and festival was in attendance. He was blown away by what he saw. Within 24 hours of this show taking place, both the venue and the festival had contacted the band. One of them booked them immediately and the other is working with the band to find an agreeable date for them to perform. Two to three years of frustration trying to get on those people’s radars was erased just like that – within 24 hours of the show!
Now the band is working to take the video we captured from both the broadcast and from what I shot in front of the stage to create a short sizzle reel. That will be used when they attend trade shows attempting to get booked at festivals and college campuses. The video WILL get them a lot of shows. We also plan to add that video to the band’s website and electronic press kit and find ways to use it on social media. Keep in mind that while the audio in the videos isn’t the greatest quality, the live audio will NOT appear in the sizzle reel as it will be replaced with one of their songs playing in the background.
Compared to the number of views many of the band’s previous Facebook Live videos generated, the broadcast of the three-song set had nearly 300% more views! BOOM!
We have several big shows to prepare for in the next few months, and we have to keep the live show fresh with new elements. The first big show is scheduled for May, and that will be the band’s first experience incorporating pyrotechnics into the show. I’ve also told Amanda to prepare for the intensity of the shows to become far more physically demanding. We are even making plans for her to perform on top of a large truss 40 feet in the air and working on a bunch of ways to implement video into the show.
All of this came from a simple 12-minute, three-song set created specifically for a Facebook Live broadcast. We went outside the box in what we wanted to present, did something a bit different from the norm, planned it out and rehearsed it, and then executed it in spectacular fashion.
The band has even captured the attention of an independent label based in Nashville, one that is made up of an incredible team of people with considerable experience in both the music and radio industries. The label even invited them to do an acoustic showcase during Country Radio Seminar in Nashville (that performance is taking place the same night I am writing this).
For Amanda Jones & The Family Band, 2017 is going to be an extremely pivotal year.
With clients in major cities like Nashville, New York, London, Sydney, and Toronto, Rocket to the Stars’ Wade Sutton has dedicated his life to helping music artists in all aspects of their careers. Armed with 20 years of radio journalism experience, Wade now provides an array of services to artists, including writing biographies and press releases; creating press kits, websites, and sponsorship proposals; media interview preparation, and more. In 2014, Wade co-authored a music business eBook titled The $150,000 Music Degree with Rick Barker. Click here to get a FREE copy of the book today.
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