Live Streaming – What’s Next?

by AlanRowoth on September 25, 2019

I’ve been beating the drum about live streaming for a while. I think it may be a way forward for the musicians whose careers were decimated by the loss of CD revenue. Uptake has been slower than I expected in this community. It does represent a shift in the way we do things. And the loss of the immediate crowd can be hard for performers who draw most of their energy and inspiration from the audience. On the other hand, it opens the door to an audience of far greater geographic and demographic diversity.

The four greatest challenges for the touring musician are transportation, food, lodging, and time.

Transportation just gets more and more expensive. Most local travelling is done by car and you are not just paying for gas, but also for insurance, wear and tear, routine and extraordinary maintenance on the vehicle, but you are also taking a risk every time you leave the vehicle unattended that someone may break in and steal your stuff. If you are travelling further afield, you have airfare, trainfare, carfare and other associated expenses. Maybe travel insurance. And the sad truth is that just the act of travelling itself opens you up to a wide variety of other dangers that I won’t enumerate here.

Food can be another issue. It’s hard to find healthy, reasonably priced food on the road. Smartphone apps like Yelp and TripAdvisor can help, but many communities don’t have a lot of viable options.

Lodging can be among the most expensive factors. I travel constantly and am blessed with a wide network of friends who let me “couch surf”, but still wind up spending a significant amount of money to sleep on my journeys. And I have no pet sensitivities, no food allergies, or issues with light and noise. I bring a sleeping pad with me at all time and have slept in hallways, basements, garages, and tree forts. Any of these can be a deal breaker for some people.

But, of course, your most valuable resource of all is time. On a good day, you might only spend an hour driving to and from the gig. But in my professional career, travel times of 3 to 5 hours between gigs were no uncommon, Plus the time spend loading and unloading the gear, packing and unpacking your luggage, waiting for ground transportation, waiting for food, waiting for sleep, budgeting in extra time for the “Murphy Factor.” It all adds up rapidly. As you can see the “opportunity cost” for live streaming is practically nil, where conventional gigs can cost you $100 or more before you strike the first chord. if you are live streaming from your home, You might have setup and tear down times of 5 minutes or less. Literally 95% or more of your time might be spent engaging your audience. In addition, your streams may be archivable, and become a resource that pays you over and over and over again.If you are live streaming from gigs you may be able to, for little or no additional expense, amortize that performance to a much wider and more persistent audience.

I have done several handouts previously on Live Streaming. I’ll try not to rehash too much of that material here, To that end, here are the links.

Getting the most out of and live streaming alternatives 

Live Streaming – What are you waiting for?

Seven Ways to Monetize the Internet (for Musicians)

Your Internet (in 2016) (I may update this before this handout is widely seen)

And I have started a Facebook group for Live Music Streamers to share tips, tricks, and techniques. I am hoping to foster collaborations and audience sharing. I would love to get more hardware/software reviews there. I feel like I am the only one doing them.

But lets forge on to what’s new. Concert Window has folded. Arguably the most popular streaming platform among folkies, it languished technically  and never really solved many of it’s nagging technical problems. I was hoping they would get a bailout from somebody who could help them with this, but ultimately, they were sort of a mom and pop operation that never stood much of a chance.

Meanwhile the Big Boys have all doubled down and reemphasized streaming on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Instagram launched the portrait-only InstagramTV and you can even start a live stream directly from the twitter app powered by Periscope. I just saw an ASCAP video today from a host called which apparently is an arm of Periscope.

The problem is that the behemoth services consider viewers THEIR customers not YOUR customers. And you are THEIR product, the sticky goo that attracts and holds viewers in the sphere of their advertisers.  While their virality and reach is largely unmatched, the options for monetizing that content are meager at best. Facebook doesn’t understand or care about the revenue you lost when CDs stopped selling. But I think it is important to leverage the big services to funnel audiences to your streams if you choose an alternative platform as your streaming home. It is even more important to always link viewers to your web domain. You need them in your database, since facebook wants to charge you not to block content from your followers.

There are innumerable platforms for live streaming from your mobile devices, many of which have built in tipping options. Typically the streamers cut of these revenues is undercut by the large percentage the hosting platform takes. They lock you into using their proprietary apps, but the revenue option may make it worthwhile. The behemoth services also support live streaming from their mobile apps, albeit without direct payouts to streamers. It seems there are new services almost weekly. While remains a popular platform, others come and go. Recent additions are DLive, TikTok, Ilive, Bigo live, Vuuzle, Livestar, live Now, YouNow, Uplive,, Tango, MeetMe,Trillo, Yubo, LiveAF, Coco, KittyLive, V Live, StreamKar, Omlet Arcade, FaceCast, DrFame, Line Live, ExclusLive,live up, Doki doki live,  and… You get the idea. No clear winner has emerged, and, by the time it does, it may be widely populated with musicians. I think it behooves you to try half a dozen of these out. If you do, please report to the live streamers group what you find so we aren’t duplicating each other’s efforts.

The battle for eyeballs is so intense that some services are hiring contract streamers to beef up their content. LIve.Me used to do that, i’m Not sure if they still do. Facebook is doing it right now with Video Game streamers. And I think a lot of the Mobile platforms are dabbling in that. Maybe we could persuade facebook to try that with musicians, if we only knew who to approach.

With all this streaming going on? How do you find anyone? The best way is to follow them on their streaming platform of choice, but other tools are cropping up. LiveList says they will be a clearinghouse to locate online concert streams. PeriscoSearch, Perisfind, live-events for youtube, and liveTube are all mobile apps that claim to do that.

But lets  talk hardware for a little bit. I posted a link in an earlier tutorial about building a modest lighting system for under $100 with parts from the hardware store. It works, but if you are willing to invest a little more, you can reap big dividends. I recently bought a Neewer Lighting system from Amazon for $230. You get 3 lighting panels with 660 LEDs per panel, with stands, barn doors, and soft cases. The kit provides considerably more light than the home brew version and more light means better video quality. CRI is 96 (out of 100- that’s very good) color temperature is variable from 3200K (tungsten) to 5600K (daylight). It’s a very cost effective setup. It is also compatible with Sony style camera batteries. You can buy a kit with 6 batteries and 3 chargers for an extra $140 or so. That will give you a couple hours of light outdoors or in areas with no AC power.



I’m still toying with different video hardware. Mostly I use either my IPhone XR or my MEVO live event cam. I generally prefer the MEVO, primarily because I can control it surreptitiously from my ipad. The camera itself is tiny and can be mounted from the ceiling or a lighting stand or almost anywhere. It will shoot at resolutions up to 4k. I prefer 720p for my live streams to keep the bandwidth reasonable. In extremely limited bandwidth situations you can stream at 480p or even 360p. Amazon sells the original MEVO for $199 and the MEVO plus (same resolution, stronger wifi) for $399. I see the originals on YouTube for around $100. The MEVO shines brightest when it is controlled by an operator, but it has several automatic features like face follow and automatic switching.

The Achilles Heel of the MEVO  is its poor internal microphone. It’s not horrible, but inadequate for music. You can add the MEVO Boost battery pack and Ethernet interface for another $199. It also has a CORE audio compatible USB interface that works with any signal that’s compatible with a Mac or IOS device, allowing you to use virtually any professional microphone or board feed with the MEVO.

Another bane is that the best camera location is usually NOT the best microphone location. And it’s messy and annoying spreading a bunch of cords all over the place. To that end, MEVO recently released a free app called MEVO mic which allows you to take any IOS compatible microphone or audio source and transmit it wirelessly to the MEVO. You can mix up to 3 of them into your recording.

And can you simultaneously stream and record a performance auto the internal microSD card? Yes you can. I’m told you could even stream to multiple platforms at once, I haven’t tried this. I think it is forbidden by most of the platforms who want to hold you captive on their site. Eventually, if you want to go really crazy you can upgrade to Livestream Studio 6 for true multicamera shoots.

Lastly, on the mobile side, I just bought a PIVO, I’m not even sure exactly what it does, but I think it’s supposed to make me breakfast tomorrow morning.


For most budget streamers, I feel that your smartphone camera is of better quality than any other camera under $1000 that you are liable to find. If you are a total quality fanatic and have the money for a high quality DSL camera, There are other alternatives. Blackmagic Stuidos makes kind of a nice box called the Web Presenter that takes any SDI or HDMI video signal and massages it into a form that looks to your Mac like a standard Webcam, making it compatible with a wide variety of platforms and services.

My pal Bob Bennett uses a Mac software called Ecamm Live that adds a plethora of features to your live stream with live camera switching, screen overlays, scheduling and more. Prices range from $12-$20 a month.

How does it look?

I won’t even begin to talk about DSLR HDMI cameras. I don’t have the money to dabble in those. You need to do that research yourself. Personally, I think you can get great looking and sounding live streams with under $500 worth of gear.

Here are a few more important statistics on Live Streaming. And more.

I believe the future belongs to the people who can reach new audiences. I can’t think of a better way than live streaming. Please join the Live Streamers group and team up with us.



The Big Orange Tarp at Falcon Ridge 2019

by AlanRowoth on June 30, 2019

We are thrilled to be returning once again to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, this time to celebrate their 31st Anniversary. We play music under the BOT Wednesday-Sunday evenings and often well into the night. Wednesday and Sunday are Open Circles, starting around dusk. Thu, Fri, and Saturday we start with feature rounds and go Open Circle sometime later that night. On Friday and Saturday evening our features will be primarily made up of this years Grassy Hill Emerging Artists (featured on the main stage on Friday afternoon) and the Most Wanted Artists from last year’s showcase: Quarter Horse, Carolann Solebello, and Justin Farren.
Oliver the Crow was also selected by the audience, but will be touring in Europe this august.

The Emerging Artists this year include:

I hope you can be here for their Friday afternoon main stage set, but if you can’t, Sally and I will attempt to give you a second chance to see each of them on one of the weekend nights at the BOT. Friday and Saturday Feature start when the main stage ends. In addition to Emerging Artists and Most Wanted, we always have a few additional tricks up our sleeve.

On Thursday night we are kicking off with a memorial to Dr. John. led by Radoslav Lorkovic. This will start directly after the lounge stage finishes, so please plan on joining us if you can. We will follow this with other special guests. That, of course, will finally lead into Thursday’s Open Circle.

If you are a regular follower of my blog you know I spent the better part of March this year in India with lifetime Falcon Ridger Allie Sibner. It was life changing for me. I’ve convinced her to do a presentation at the BOT on Saturday afternoon at 3pm called “Yoga and Travel Talk with Allie Sibner” Where she will do a little yoga with you and talk about her experiences traveling in India, Cambodia, and Southeast Asia. Q&A will follow.

I’m very pleased with the entire program and we look forward to sharing it with you.

Here’s a taste of some of what you might see

Here is how you find us at the festival


Allie Sibner and I celebrated India’s “Holi” holiday in Rishikesh.

Into the Heart of Yoga with Allie Sibner – Rishikesh, India 2019

by AlanRowoth on June 23, 2019

I’ve intended to do an in depth travelogue of this trip since my return to the USA in April. I want to share all the minutia with you, but I’ve had writers block. I finally realized I had to preface that with the meta story of why the trip was so powerful.

My deep dive Into the Heart of Yoga with Allie Sibner was the greatest vacation of my life. That may sound crazy as I am an atheist, and had never even attempted yoga. I went primarily to visit the Childrens home at Ramana’s Garden and to experience the food and culture of India. (Which we did) But the trip was so much more than that.

Allie Sibner is the most enlightened, peaceful, mindful person I know. Allie’s personal spirituality reflects a deep understanding and respect for not only the customs and mores of Hinduism and lndia, but also traditions and teachings of Christianity, Judaism, Native American and other indigenous cultures. We learned not only about Yoga and Meditation, but so much more. Altho I am a senior citizen, this was mostly new information for me. Most of the other travelers were Yoga teachers themselves, but they all seemed as enthralled as I was. Even if you have no interest in India or Yoga, take the time to follow Allie on Instagram.

Nepalese Yogi Veer Shahi worked closely with our group almost daily, teaching not only various forms of yoga, but also the history of the British Colonial era and India’s caste system. His warmth and infectious smile was a pure delight to all of us. Veer and I became very close.

Allie’s selection of the Santushti Yoga Vini guest house as our home base was perfect. I have never enjoyed a hotel stay more. They provided 2 delicious vegetarian meals each day, cheap and expert laundry service, as well as vast local insight. The utilitarian rooms were clean and comfortable. Their filtered water service was essential to me as I don’t use sugar drinks, fake sugar drinks, or alcohol. The fourth floor Yoga studio was large and well executed. But it was their care and attention to our every need that went way beyond what I have come to expect as hotel service. The proprietors Vishal and Sunit often participated directly with us in Allie’s program. Both have become true friends that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

In addition to morning meditation, learning mantras, and yoga in the yoga studio atop the guest house, we did a lot of exploring and experiential learning in and around Rishikesh. Visiting various shrines, temples, and waterfalls. Experiencing Aarti and Puja ceremonies, and spending time on the banks and in the waters of Ganga Ma, the sacred river that energizes the region; Allie expertly wove the entire experience into a seamless celebration of our own lives and spirituality.

We celebrated the Indian Holiday of Holi. Rishikesh was bursting with joy and colors and love and music. Words can’t capture that experience, you have to be there. We did Dance meditation with Daria Stoian. And of course we ate and shopped and did the full tourist experience as well. The food was great and the shopping fascinating. I had several dinners at the Beatles Cafe. If you like bargains, the food and shopping was super inexpensive.

I saved the best for last. We spent a lot of time at Ramana’s Garden, bonding with the children and staff that make it such a beacon of hope in a region struggling with poverty and homelessness. In addition to the children who live there, Ramana’s provides a daily education to another 200 children from the surrounding community. They finance their mission by growing their own food and selling organic, vegetarian meals in their delicious on site restaurant, as well as thru donations. Paying extra attention to the unique needs of young women, traditionally marginalized in India’s patriarchal society, they provide skills and education critical for these women to achieve their full potential. The joy and love that permeates this community, the laughter and smiles of the children stole our hearts. They recently received a grant to expand their dormitory space and add a couple of classrooms, but this grant doesn’t cover their increased operating expenses. They could use your help.

The trip exceeded my expectations on every level. The people who chose to join are incredible human beings and I love each of them. Though only in her mid 20’s, Allie handled our group masterfully, responding to our feedback and interests on the fly, constantly adapting our daily schedules. It was all so much Fun in addition to being educational and emotionally enriching. Because we were based at the guest house, no activity was mandatory. Each guest could prioritize their personal objectives and slip away at any time for a massage, some Ayurvedic therapy, or just some personal time to absorb what we were feeling, with no fear of “missing the bus” and becoming disconnected from the group.

Allie checked in with us daily to see where everyone was at. I won’t lie, it was a powerful emotional experience, life-changing for me. Emotions were intense. Waves of tears and joy. A deepening sense of connection to my self, my body, Ganga Ma, all of nature and even mankind as a whole, and a love affair with our entire travel group. In a world that encourages us to anesthetize our true feelings and disconnect from the cacophony around us, this trip brought into sharp focus for me the true joy of living and breathing on this beautiful planet. The joy and wonder each day can hold for us. And the richness of deep human connection.

Now I’m back home in the USA and telling everyone I meet about what I have learned. I’m counting the days until I return to India next year with Allie and the group. Best of all, the cost was lower than I ever expected, putting participation well within the reach of most people. To learn more about Allie, yoga, and India, visit her website I hope you can join us in the experience.

Here’s a youtube music playlist I shared with the members of our group.

A small sampling of the many photos we took while we were there.

A taste of Satsang with the kids from Ramana’s Garden

Veer Shahi

Daria Stoian

For more info

The Big Orange Tarp at Folk Alliance International-Montreal 2019

by AlanRowoth on January 28, 2019


In the Access Film Blue Room, Rm 469

I’m super psyched about my showcase lineup for Montreal. Partnering again with Access Film Music in their blue room. I’m not super psyched about the tiny hotel rooms.My usual audience is not going to fit into the room, I encourage you to come early to get a seat. 

Thursday night 

11:30pm Freddy and Francine, Scott Cook, Lynn Miles

12 midnight Peppino D’Augustino, Rod Abernethy, Noah Zacharin

 Friday night

11:30pm Sara Wheeler, RJ Cowdery, Rachael Kilgour

12 Greg Klyma, The Rix (Rick Nestler & Rik Palieri), Tim “Doc Fritz” Liebert

12:30 Markley and Balmer, Lisa Bastoni & Naomi Sommers, Reggie Harris

 Saturday night

11:30pm Hope Dunbar, Hayley Reardon, Scott Cook

12 Annie Oakley, Emily Mure, Rachael Kilgour

12:30 Lisa Bastoni, Dave Gunning, The LYNNeS

1am Freddy & Francine, Vance Gilbert, Ellis Paul


Making Music Together. The value of Social Music.

by AlanRowoth on November 9, 2018

The first music was social music. Scientists have found musical instruments dating back 40,000 years or more, but anthropologists feel music is much older, maybe as much as half a million years, predating any recorded history, perhaps even language itself. There is something very elemental about making and sharing music.

My earliest musical experiences were my grandmother singing me to sleep. Soon, I was singing with her, it was a cornerstone of our bond. Not long afterward, I was singing in the congregation and later the choir at church. I got up in front of my 3rd grade class and sang a Beatle Song (If I Fell) acapella. I sang in the school bus on my way to day camp. (0n top of Spaghetti, Great Green Gobs, and other classics). Chorus in school, pep rallies, and much more. By the time I was in 8th grade, I was in my first rock band.

i became a professional musician, but most kids don’t. Pretty much everybody loves to sing, or try to. Social music remains a great way to excite and engage human beings in group activities. Whether you are singing protest songs at a political rally, singing your grandchildren to sleep, or singing “You’ve Got a Friend” with James Taylor on the lawn of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, making music in a group brings us closer together. Everyone can sing, not always well, but the important thing is the act of singing itself.

My rock bands sometimes took great pains to break the fourth wall. We would set up a performance that drew them in as spectators, but someplace in the course if the evening, we would break down the invisible barrier between audience and performer  sometimes it was a simple as jumping into the audience or trolling across the bar with a wireless guitar rig.  Other times we might thrust the vocal mic into the face of a fan who had clearly been singing along. In my prime, I spontaneously kissed a number of women in the audience. (Long before #MeToo was a worry) That moment of realization when the audience understood they were now a part of the performance could be very powerful

In my continuing work in music, I use social music in many ways, from encouraging audiences sing alongs to hosting open circles. Under the Big Orange Tarp, I used to bring a box of percussion instruments to festivals. Egg shakers, tambourines, bongo drums, claves, maracas, you name it. I drifted away from that because untrained musicians can be such poor time keepers. I like to attend drum circles with my pal Chadd Ferron. They are so fun, but they can be obtrusive late nights at your music festival or in urban settings. They may or may not be right for your constituency.

Singing songs together can be fantastic. From folk songs, protest songs, inspirational hymns to Late night Beatles jams in Gene Shay’s room at NERFA.  These always generate smiles and cameraderie.  At Falcon Ridge this summer, Dan Navarro kicked off our loving tribute to David Glaser, Maggie Marshall, and Jimmy LaFave with a New Orleans style, second line processional from one side of the camp ground to the other, ending up at the Big Orange Tarp to kick off the tribute. The crowd was “All in” before our formal feature even began. Audience engagement and participation was fantastic.

Some venues have group sings after their shows  these can be particularly powerful in small house concert situations. Ireland is all about the pub sings, where people haul their chairs over into a corner and play together.  Orchestrated jam sessions provide a place where wannabe professionals can noodle around quietly, testing their musical ideas to see what works and what doesn’t. When I was starting out, I always played along with records, but I can tell you first hand, that’s not as exciting as playing along with people.

Many Americans are shy, socially inhibited, uncomfortable in their own skins  it has been reported that many Of them fear public speaking more than they fear death. To stand in front of a group and speak extemporaneously is unthinkable for some, but to sing some Simon and Garfunkel or Phil Ochs, sharing that eloquence is far easier.  So many people feel isolated and alone, unseen and unheard. They may not even realize it, but most people light up when they realize they are a part of something. It is natural to yearn for connection In a purely practical sense, you want customers coming back to consume your music, but trust me, that’s feels great when you discover your events are serving people in a deeper and more meaningful way.

in my opinion, Folk Dance is making music with your body. our dance stage at Falcon Ridge has one of the most engaged and enthusiastic audiences that I know of. As a long time music listener, I can get mesmerized by a fantastic performance that I view only as a spectator, but the physical act of dancing is a full body, aerobic experience with a much broader emotional payload.

If you really want to see some fireworks, try workshopping some of the theatre games from Viola Spolin’s classic book “Improvisation for the theater”. Considered the Bible of Improvisational Comedy groups like the Second City or the Groundlings. It has been used with great success by musicians as well as actors and comics. It gets people laughing and thinking outside of the box.

Improvisation for the Theater: A Handbook of Teaching and Directing Techniques (Drama and Performance Studies)

However you decide to incorporate social music into your programming, the big win is in audience engagement and customer loyalty. Just as volunteerism brings people back in the doors, so does getting them to be music makers, not simply spectators.





Alan Rowoth & Sally Johnson Present: NERFA2018 BOT Showcase.

by AlanRowoth on November 2, 2018

Fiske Room (Big Orange Tarp showcase)
I will update this with artist links before the conference.

Fri aft
2-2:45 Zoe Mulford, Emily White, Marc Douglas Berardo
2:45-3:30 Black Feathers, Emerald Rae, Jude Roberts
3:30-4:15 Alyssa Dan, Quentin Callewaert, Fiora Laina
4:15-5:00 Ronny Cox and the Heather Pierson Trio

Fri nite
11:45-12:30 Neale Eckstein and friends
12:30-1:00 Matt Nakoa, Lisa Bastoni, Cassandra House
1-1:30 Kenny White, Grace Morrison, Alice Hasen
1:30-2 Greg Greenway & Reggie Harris, Emerald Rae, Rod Abernethy
2-2:30 Robinson Treacher, Brad Cole, Caroline Cotter
2:30-3 B (Oliver Esposito), JR Garcia, Fiora Laina
3 Open Circle

Sat 11:30am-12:15 “Live Streaming: Techniques, Tips, & Tricks” Open group mentoring

Sat Afternoon
2-3 Alice Howe, Freebo, Grace Morrison, Jonathan Byrd
3-4 Miles & Mafale, Carolann Solebello and Joe Iadanza , Wabi Sabi (Pelletier & Wurzbach), Markley and Balmer
4-5 Kenny White, Louise Mosrie, Scott Cook, Rachael Kilgour

Sat night
11:45-12:15 Scott Cook, Kirsten Maxwell, Sophie Buskin
12:15-12:45 Annie Sumi, Jeffrey Siler, Josh Harty
12:45-1:15 Jaeger and Reid, Alice Hasen, Jim Bizer & Jan Krist
1:15-1:45 ilyAIMY, Susan Cattaneo, Rob Lytle
1:45-2:15 Eric Lee, Sandie Reilly, Andrew Dunn
2:15-3 Wabi Sabi (special guests Kipyn Martin, Fiora Laina)
3 am Open Circle

Sunday several one on one mentorings available. Sign up at mentoring desk.

A quick taste

Group Mentoring Saturday 11/10 at 11:30am Fiske Room

by AlanRowoth on November 2, 2018

I will be doing a group mentoring at NERFA on Saturday Morning in the Fiske Room. 11:30-12:15 (no signup required)
“Live Streaming – Techniques, Tips, and Tricks”

Discussing the plethora of streaming options and platforms coming online for musicians, ways to monetize those streams, the hardware and software necessary to look and sound good. Be there or be square. Also Join my facebook group Live Music Streamers.

Big Orange Tarp at FARM 2018

by AlanRowoth on October 24, 2018

It’s been nearly 20 years since I attended Folk Alliance Regional Midwest (FARM). It was pretty anemic in those early days. (No juried showcases, no presenter presence…) it fell off of my annual calendar. But when I won conference admission in a raffle last year, I knew it was time to give it another try.

I’m not presenting a workshop this time thru, but I volunteered to do 5-6 hours of mentoring and I would be happy to discuss absolutely anything with you if you sign up. I believe the signup sheets will be available at Registration.

I’m also pleased to be presenting a Big Orange Tarp showcase round each night at the conference from 11:30-12 in the Access Film Music Room 124. Come give us a listen. Click the artist name to check out their website.

Thurs 11:30-12 Mike Agranoff, Katherine Rondeau, Andrew Dunn
Friday 11:30-12 Hayley Readon, Kerry Grombacher, Andrew Dunn
Saturday 11:30-12 Rupert Wates, Antonio Andrade, Andrew Dunn

Here is a taste of my showcasers:

Big Orange Tarp at FarWest Folk Alliance 2018

by AlanRowoth on October 9, 2018

I will be attending my second FarWest Folk Alliance this weekend in Woodland Hills, California. I’ll be doing my workshop “7 Ways to Monetize the Internet (for Musicians)” at 1pm on Friday in the Hollywood Room.

I will also be showcasing half a dozen of my favorite musicians in the Access Film Blue Room.

Big Orange Tarp Presents:

Friday 11:30-midnight Jaeger & Reid, Ernest Troost, Uncle Bonsai in the round
Saturday 11:30-midnight Electric Bonsai Band, Alice Howe, Freebo In the round.

I think they also have me doing one on one mentorings, though I am not sure when. If that didn’t happen, email or message me at and we will set something up.

Here’s s glimpse of my lineup:

7 Ways to Monetize the Internet (for Musicians)

by AlanRowoth on September 27, 2018

For nearly 30 years, technology and greed made possible the model which fueled the explosive growth of the independent music industry. Prior to around 1985, making records was an expensive and complicated process. You needed to rent expensive studio time to record, mix and master your recordings. Records were manufactured in factories called pressing plants and required expensive mothers and stampers to create the finished recordings. 12” jackets, sleeves, and liner notes were expensive to design and print.

But in the mid ‘80’s the CD came out. They sounded better and lasted longer than vinyl albums, so the record companies decided to charge a premium for the format, but they cost less than half as much to manufacture. Meanwhile quality home recording studios were becoming affordable and desktop publishing put quality graphics design within reach of anyone who had the eye to create it.

And so the independent record labels and artists sprung into being. Radio and retail were still controlled by the Big 6 record distributors who hawked all the major labels, but the genie was out of the bottle and soon as many as 30% of record sales emanated from independents. Then the digital distribution sites like and Napster were circumventing old school distribution entirely. It was an perfect storm of opportunity for the unsigned musician and they rushed in to take advantage of the windfall. Hundreds of musicians who had never seriously considered an original music career jumped at the chance to make their creative dreams come true. A model emerged that held for nearly 30 years where the average Jimi or Janis could write a dozen good songs (still the most important part of the equation), record them inexpensively, design and press their own CDs and derive about half of their annual income from the sale of these CDs at shows, over the internet, and (if they were lucky) maybe even thru conventional record stores.

But progress giveth and progress taketh away. The same digital revolution that gave us home recording and cheap CD production has now supplanted the medium with real time music streaming. Services like Spotify, Amazon Prime, Apple Music, and Pandora now pluck thousands of songs out of the ether on demand. The record stores are mostly gone, terrestrial radio is on its last legs, and even Satellite radio seems ill equipped to do battle with the consumers ability to create their own playlists. CD player sales have diminished sharply and so has the demand for those shiny silver disks. The drop in sales revenue has been devastating for the artists who came to depend on it just a few years ago. Some have left the business, others are struggling. It’s clear that, if we hope to remain a robust community, we need to find a way to replace that lost income. Here are a few suggestions

With cheap, seemingly limitless bandwidth available, video is now the preferred medium for engaging your audience. And arguably the best delivery platform for your videos is YouTube.

1. YouTube’s internal advertising platform is called AdSense. In 2016, AdSense paid out 13.7 Billion (with a B) dollars to content creators. That’s a lot of cheese. Unfortunately, it is harder and harder to break into the most lucrative YouTube ranks. YouTube adds 300 hours of video to the service every minute. A decade ago, the median number of views per video was 10,262, last year it was 89. Your video is a needle in a hayfield full of needles, so it’s not enough to just put the videos online, but you need some way to garner attention for them. It is daunting, but not impossible. A 26 year old British gamer named DanTDM earned 16.5 Million dollars last year on YouTube. But it takes continued engagement. The top 3.5% of YouTube channels (averaging a million views or more per month) still only generate $12,000-$16,000 a year in revenue. That’s less than your average greeter at Walmart. (But it’s more than many of my friends used to make per year in CD sales. We are talking about augmenting your income here, not replacing your performing career entirely)

It used to be a lot easier to make money with AdSense and many creators who used to have 5 figure incomes based on channels where they just did stupid or shocking stuff have found themselves frozen out of a platform continually in search of higher quality content. It’s going to be extremely difficult to replace all your lost merch income strictly with YouTube ads. But I think a YouTube channel should definitely be a part of your strategy. Ads aren’t the only way to make money with YouTube

2. Brand deals, Sponsorships, and product placement can also generate income for your YouTube channel. Advertisers and other entities who strongly resonate with your message may want a firmer relationship with you than pseudorandom occasional ad placements. These agreements are negotiated directly and there is no standard contract or pay scale, but they can be very lucrative. Read more here. Here’s another article on Sponsorships. I think these have more income potential than AdSense, but if people are watching your content, there is no reason not to get the AdSense dollars too. And more tips on Sponsored content.

3. Affiliate marketing and hawking your own merchandise can also generate revenue for you. Online retailers like Amazon have affiliate programs where you earn a commission on buyers who you refer. This is a tangible benefit to the seller and it costs your buyer nothing extra. Amazon, eBay, and Rakuten have 3 of the best known affiliate programs, but there are many others. There are specialized musical gear affiliates programs thru Zzounds, Musicians Friend, Sam Ash, Guitar Center, and other companies that you can use to spotlight the products that you love and actually use. Commissions can range as high as 10%.

Your fans may no longer buy CDs, but they still wear clothing and jewelry. Sell them something they will use. You can sell custom printed or embroidered t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, bandannas, and other clothing and jewelry items that make them a walking billboard for your music. You can sell your original paintings, woodcarvings, salves, potions, and other handmade items. You may be able to crossmarket and sell on commission the items made by your other artistic friends. Fullfillment can be done thru eBay, Etsy, or your own website.

4. Live Music Streaming is an ideal way to reach out to audiences old and new. The low opportunity cost of streaming makes it ideal for even the most cash strapped musicians. The 4 biggest enemies of the traveling musician are gas, food, lodging, and time. They are the negatives in every calculation of whether or not to take a gig. Some live-streaming sites charge admission. Many have built in tipping capabilities. Even the totally free streaming platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram can direct listeners to your other revenue generators. If you have a smartphone and an internet connection, the cost of live streaming is almost zero. All it takes is time. You can amortize that time by streaming your live gigs, rehearsal sessions or other musical chores. You can reach people who might never be willing or able to attend your gigs and turn them into fans. It’s a great way to publicize your website, YouTube channel, merchandise, and crowdfunding campaigns. Learn more about live streaming here. Now is the time. Just like with YouTube, the early bird catches the worm. If you wait until everyone is live streaming, that marketplace is eventually going to be just as crowded as YouTube. Stake out your claim now in the electronic frontier.

5. Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe are popular crowdfunding sites. They help you leverage your fan base and others to finance projects you might not otherwise have the resources to even begin. Beyond giving your fans a way to participate in your next project, they also hold great potential for building public awareness for your work and your brand. Mounting a crowdfunding campaign can be tricky, here are some tips. Here are more. And more.

6. Premium Content appeals to your SuperFans. There are various ways to accomplish this. People like access to exclusive content. This can be anything from rough song demos and informal videos, Private members-only live streams on Periscope, Access to hidden videos on YouTube. Personal photos. Even members only email newsletters or exclusive merchandise. Don’t lock away the Crown Jewels, but cater to the completist with a trove of materials that let them feel like the superfans that they are.

7. Patronage may be the ultimate way to recoup that lost income. America’s income inequality continues to grow. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Some people have a LOT more disposable income than others. The simplest way to accomplish this may be with an honest discussion of the financial impediments standing in the way of the furtherance of your musical career and a simple link on your website or monthly newsletter. This could happen once in a blue moon or could be a perpetual link on your website. I have one on that I never promote, but every once in a while, somebody sends me a little cash. It is never expected, but always appreciated.

Patreon is the industry leader in openended patronage sites. You can structure a Patreon account in many different ways. Your patrons might send you a certain amount each month, or each time you release a song or an album or a painting. If your fans are willing to commit to an ongoing relationship, it’s much less embarrassing than going back to the well time after time after time with discreet crowdfunding campaigns. If they can afford it, and they want to help, why not let them. Here are some Patreon tips. More recently a few other players have entered that space. You may want to check out drip, Flattr, memberful, and Podia

Bonus: On Demand audio streaming thru subscription services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora is one of the primary ways mainstream artists are monetizing their music. In a perfect world, the lost CD revenues would have just magically reappeared in this column as the CD sales dwindled. But the music industry’s long tradition of fleecing artists was hard at work when these services came into being. There are executives with 6 figure incomes running these services who have never written a song in their lives, while prolific songwriters reap minuscule rewards. Like YouTube, a few creators make 5 figure incomes, the vast majority get paid very little. a hit on Spotify may pay the writer $3-5000, but few writers can support themselves with streaming income.

But there may be hope on the horizon. There is a bill before Congress right now that aims to bring streaming revenues up to a reasonable rate and end the excessive exploitation of the industry. It is called the Music Modernization Act. This is very good news. I don’t know how soon it will take effect or exactly how dramatic a difference it will make, but consensus is that this should help a lot. All it needs now is the Presidents signature. He doesn’t like to read, but it is assumed the bill will be signed into law without delay.

In the meantime, if your music is on Spotify, you will generate a lot more income if it is picked up by a popular playlist. Here is their wisdom on that. And here is some 3rd party advice. And one more… and here’s this advice on what to do after you score a Playlist.

I hope this information is useful to you.

I will also be showing some of the new streaming hardware solutions

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