Artist developmentMusic Business

What to know before your first Instagram Livestream!

Livestreams are the new live shows! 2020 has most definitely brought about a lot of changes, one of them being exclusive livestreams across all kinds of platforms. And the story continues in 2021! A lot of artists are now selling tickets to their livestreams, instead of giving it all away for free. Platforms like Twitch (originally design for the game industry) and Stageit have proved to be super helpful in growing the amount of engaged listeners and fans for many artists and allowing for monetization as well. This is a great development, as music should not be devalued!

If you are only just starting out though, and are still in the process of growing a fanbase to begin with, then free livestreams are a great way to gain traction and connect with your new and existing followers and hopefully convert them into real fans one follower at a  time.

In today´s post I will pass on my “lessons learned” from my first Instagram livestream last year.

The good news is, it is less scary than you might think! With these tips, things should go really smoothly for you:

Step 1: Overall preparation

Being prepared is always a great idea if you are doing something for the first time! It makes you feel more at ease. So, how best to prepare for a “Live” session? Well, first off, you will want to announce your livestream, so people can block away time and show up for you! I suggest posting an announcement a couple of days prior to the stream and then a reminder the day before!

You will want to prepare 3 to 4 songs to play on your first livestream. Maybe, if you dont like talking freely, prepare some notes on what to tell people about your songs! I get nervous if I have to follow a script, but some people panic without one! Treat it like you would treat a gig! Prepare as best as you can, so you feel comfortable in your own skin.

 Step 2: Set-up and test

Setting things up so you are happy with how you look and what to show on screen is important. It can take up quite a bit of time to find out which angles work best for you, how far away from the phone you want to position yourself, how to best hold your instrument so people can see bits and pieces of it as well, while you are playing.

I suggest blocking off enough time for trial and error with that! Position your phone in various spots and do check the filters that Instagram offers, you might like some!  (Here´s a great video tutorial to show you some of the basic features once you are live: The goal is for you to feel happy with how you come across on screen.

Step 3: Lighting 

This is a big one! Light is a major component and attaining a look you want on camera. But this is not limited to how YOU look, but also just how professional your video will turn out! Light is a great tool to create moods, and to play with a certain dramaturgy. In fact, in animated movie productions, there are specific lighting artists that get hired to just take care of light and shadow to support the storyline. Since camera lights and natural light both aren´t available in animated films, these effects have to be taken care of artificially. The point being, that light is a major element in videos.

With that said, I do recommend you either film yourself near a large window with a lot of natural light coming in, or at least use a professional screen ring  light to lit up your face. You might want to add an additional lamp/lightsource to brighten up the wall or objects behind you. This creates more depth. But keep in mind, that Instagram Live only allows for you to film on vertical screen, which means there won´t be much room to show your surroundings anyway. It will be mainly you who´s to fill up the screen! Center Stage baby!

Step 4: Eliminate interruption and prepare for your “on air” time

Right before going live on Instagram, make sure to eliminate all sorts of interruptions that might happen during your stream, such as incoming phone calls, someone ringing your door bell or a family member popping into your room.

To suppress phone calls on the phone you film with, you can set your phone on “Do not disturb” mode. On the iPhone you can find this option under “Settings->Do not Disturb”.

Step 5: Time to go live

Depending on how many followers you have, there might be a lot of people joining in on your stream or hardly any. In order for you not to get thrown off track, I suggest you just start your “show” on time and do not focus on audience numbers right away. Just ignore whatever pops up within the first minute or so. Let people come in, I promise they will! I suggest to just start talking or singing for one to two minutes before checking how many people have joined and maybe addressing them and greeting them by name! Talk a little and keep things conversational and entertaining.

If no-one is watching, keep going! You never know how many people might enjoy watching a rerun of your livestream if you decide to post it to your profile grid afterwards. If no-one is watching you can even go a lil extra crazy and test some fun functionalities while being live! Just make the best of the situation! I don´t think this will happen though! People love livestreams and unless you only stay on for 5 minutes, they will find you and watch for a while!

Here´s a little extra tip: If you are performing songs live, make sure not to read comments that might come in while singing/performing! Let me tell you, this can really throw you off! It is simply a big distraction and reading words while singing words is super hard when being nervous. Trust me, do not do that!

Last not least, you won’t want to stay on for too long for your first Insta Live. Keep it to 20 minutes or even less and promise your “fans” to come back soon! This takes away plenty of pressure.

Hope you´ll succeed!



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