Streaming Video seems to be the focus of all the social media services. In a world of short attention spans and a pathological fear of reading, Live video is the most effective way to engage and grow your audience. Although Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all offer live streaming, you may want to examine some more video specific alternatives. I found quite a few including Live.me, Concert Window, YouNow, LiveStream, Twitch, Busker, and Twitter’s Periscope. For the purpose of this post, I chose to focus on Live.me, since it seemed to be an industry leader. The service claims over 600 million active users, has recently generated an additional $60 million dollars in investor cash, and has handed out a couple million dollars in payouts to live streamers since launch. They celebrated their one year anniversary in April 2017. There were more metrics available since Tubefilter tracks the top 50 Live.me broadcasters. For instance, veteran broadcaster Kristina Plisko has over 623,000 fans and has amassed over 46 million “diamonds” thru the Live.me tipping system, worth about $230,000. (This may be a little misleading, the most successful broadcasters might reinvest as much as half of their payout in tipping other broadcasters, supporting the community, and raising their visibility within the system. Still the payout clearly beats Spotify and Apple Music) Kristina added over 3700 fans last week.) The services all have their individual cultures and oddities. I really like Concert Window, but they seem to rely mostly on you supplying your audience thru social media advertising. Live.me is like a big open air bazaar where thousands of people are wandering about, 24 hours a day. All they have to do is swipe up to see the next thing. It seems like there is a lot more opportunity for serendipity there.
Have I piqued your interest? I know this is a bit mysterious to many of you. Here are some tips to smooth your entry into this brave new world. The first thing that may surprise you is that you can’t stream from your computer. You need an iPhone, iPad, or Android device to become a broadcaster. (Although streams may be viewable thru a web browser on your computer…). The Apps are free and there are no mandatory fees. Participation in tipping is strictly voluntary (and surprisingly well embraced by the users.) tips come in the form of gifts bought with Live.me coins. These gifts can cost the tipper anything from a few cents to $200 or so for a Dream Castle. I see Castles drop with amazing regularity. Where the users get that kind of money, I don’t know. There are various opportunities to earn free star points from the system and you can earn free coins from user sponsored Coin Drops.
To get started, you must first download the App and set up your user Profile. Use a name consistent with your branding. My Live.me name is BigOrangeTarp.org, my blogsite. Most performers use the name their act is billed under on a marquee. You get a space of about 50 characters in your profile to include your Twitter/Instagram/Facebook or website info. Make the most of this. if you have multiple devices, you may want to set up a secondary account or two. Mine is Alan Rowoth. This way I can gift, like, share, and otherwise boost my own streams
Don’t start broadcasting immediately. Watch some streams first to learn the terminology and etiquette. Read a couple of tutorials like this and this and maybe even this. Don’t pass up chances for free coins, star points, and experience. You get experience and star points just for logging in each day. Popular live casts may feature multiple coin drops for viewers (Don’t be a “coin thot“, always gift back a portion to the broadcaster. These gifts help you and the broadcaster “Level up” within the system.) Earn star points by sharing broadcast links on Social media. You can watch up to 3 advertisers 30 second videos each day to earn even more star points. Thru coin drops, I have earned as many as 100 free coins in a day. If you have money to invest, live.me has various coin purchase plans. I bought 720 coins for about $10, but I haven’t spent much. There are some people who spend enormous sums on gifting.
Live.me is a community. People will appreciate you if you are kind and generous. Broadcasts start slow and can build to 10,000 viewers or more. Being one of the first people into a broadcast and dropping a small gift is one of the best way to make a good impression on a broadcaster who may boost your broadcasts, ask their followers to follow you, come to your broadcast to reciprocate your gifts, or even ask you to “Beam” into their stream and become part of their broadcast thru a Picture-in-Picture option. These are among the most powerful shortcuts to a large following. People who participate in the community can make friends fast. Rude and selfish streamers may never make much headway.
When you do start to stream, pay attention to the tech. Make sure you have decent lighting and an appropriate background. No matter what kind of setup you have, good lighting is imperative, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. For god’s sake, use some sort of mount for your iPhone. The most common mistake on Live.me is phones propped up against a pillow or something falling over. I see this happen multiple times per day it’s so annoying!
Pay attention to audio quality, especially if you are streaming music. Telephone microphones aren’t optimized for music. You can buy various addon mics for $50 or more that plug directly into your phone. I took it a step further and bought a lightning audio interface that allows me to use professional recording microphones, optimized for the best placement, or even directly insert your guitar or keyboard signal (or mixer output) directly into the audio stream. Poor sound is a common problem in amateur videos, don’t let it be a problem for you. Currently I use either a Roland Duo Capture EX Audio interface with an Apple USB camera adapter, an MXL990 stereo condenser microphone, or a Line 6 Port VX microphone with a built in guitar processor, or a tiny Shure MV88 lightning Microphone. I also have a cool little TP-link wifi controllable light bulb.
Even more crucial than the tech is your narrative, your personna. As with any musical endeavor, the quality of the songs and the performance are fundamentally important, but that isn’t all you need to succeed in Live.me. It is a one-to-many performance that feels like one-to-one. The best broadcasters feel like they are performing for you. In a great livecast, the “4th wall” comes down and the viewer feels like they are right there with you. You don’t need to lay bare the most intimate details of your private life, but you have to at least seem sincere and genuine in your interactions with the audience. They will appreciate your honesty and kindness. Smile and be funny if it fits your persona. Look nice. Be courteous and grateful for their participation. They love to hear their names if you can shout them out for gifting, liking, sharing, or following your stream without disrupting your performance, by all means do it. Learn who your “regulars” are and acknowledge them. Higher level broadcasters can establish a “family” with a shared direct messaging forum. Read your direct messages in the system and respond if it seems appropriate..Engage your audience. Ask their opinion on things, find out where they are from, look for synergies that bind them to you. Social sharing is key. An active group of dedicated fans will be a huge help in growing your following. Your meta-story is important. Are you the seasoned veteran of a dozen years on the road? Are you the fledgling musician just trying to break into the big bad world of the professional music business? Are you a Faith-based performer who realized this is their true calling? Think of this as an elevator pitch style synopsis that fans can use to describe you to their friends. Why do you need them? Why do they need you?
Don’t be shy about asking fans to follow, like, and share your broadcast. Some broadcasters can be annoyingly insistent when they ask followers for gifts. Some are very successful at this. It’s hard to focus on this without seeming like an ass. I find a laid back approach to this more palatable, but by all means be appreciative for even small gifts, likes, shares, and follows. Ask followers to follow your top gifters. (And follow the top gifters of successful livecasters. I suspect that 90% of live.me gifts emanate from less than 10% of viewers. Follow and befriend the people who shower those gifts) The amount and type of engagement (as well as the length) of your broadcasts, new followers added, gifts received, and valid (not gibberish spam) comments all contribute to the experience “score” that live.me awards each of your broadcasts. This experience raises your broadcaster level and increases the chance that your broadcast will be “featured”, resulting in a lot more traffic. Broadcasts at least 30-60 minutes long score better, having a good cover photo for your broadcasts also helps. It helps to be consistent the most successful broadcasters invest an hour or more at least 4 times a week. It takes a while to build up some things, but once things start to snowball… I’ve seen broadcasters get to 1000 views in less than 5 minutes
There are some crazy, disruptive trolls lurking anywhere people congregate on the internet..You can designate a couple of your most loyal fans as “Admins” to help protect you from the worst of the riff raff. Admins can temporarily block disruptive or disrespectful visitors, so you don’t have to handle that stuff in real time. Most followers are proud to be selected for this duty. Broadcasters can permanently block trolls from visiting your broadcasts. Don’t let anyone bully you or harsh your mellow.
At this point, I believe that quality original music is still underrepresented on Live.me. There is a lot of room to stake your claim to a broader audience, but I suspect that 2 or 3 years from now, there will be a plethora of choices for listeners. The early bird gets the worm. If you join the Live.me community be sure to follow both my accounts (BigOrangeTarp.org and Alan Rowoth) Let me know that you are there and I’ll check out and help to boost your broadcasts. If a bunch of us do that, there will be good synergies. I’m also happy to field any questions you have about how things work.
Have fun, I hope to see you there!