Big Orange Tarp at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival 2018

by AlanRowoth on July 24, 2018

We are thrilled to be returning once again to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, this time to celebrate their 30th 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: The End of America, Ryanhood, and Heather Aubrey Lloyd. The Emerging Artists this year include (in order of their appearance on Friday):

1 – Jude Roberts – Woodstock NY
2 – Ari & Mia – Jamaica Plain MA
3 – Orly Bendavid – Brooklyn NY
4 – Mike Laureanno – Providence RI
5 – Katherine Rondeau – Burlington Twp NJ
6 – Rupert Wates – NYC
7 – Eliza Novella – Milton NY
8 – Andrew Delaney – Arlington TX
9 – Burns and Kristy – Ithaca NY
10 – Kyle Donovan – Hygiene CO
11 – 5j Barrow – Asheville NC
12 – Carolann Solebello – Brooklyn NY
13 – Quarter Horse – Selden NY
14 – Sam Luke Chase – Braintree MA
15 – Oliver the Crow – Nashville TN
16 – Ian Flanigan – Saugerties NY
17 – EFRAT – Woodbridge NJ
18 – Kyle Hancharick – Warwick NY
19 – Nicolas Emden – Brookline MA
20 – Justin Farren – Sacramento CA
21 – Amy Kucharik – Somerville MA
22 – Dan Santos – Glendale MA
23 – Emerald Rae – Ashburnham MA
24 – Devan Tracy – Washington DC

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 very special memorial called “Gone But Not Forgotten” celebrating the lives and music of David Glaser, Maggie Marshall, and Jimmy LaFave. This will start directly after the lounge stage finishes. I’m sure it will be unforgettable, so please plan on joining us if you can. We will follow this with several award winners from the Philadephia Songwriters Project and a few other special guests. That, of course, will finally lead into Thursday’s Open Circle.

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

Big Orange Tarp at SERFA 2018

by AlanRowoth on May 15, 2018

I’m thrilled to be returning to SERFA once again this week. If you want to catch up with me for some one on one time at the conference, let me know and we’ll schedule something. I’ve been learning more and more about the live streaming opportunities that are out there and I’ll have my MEVO event camera with me if anyone wants a demo.

11-11:30 Suzie Vinnick, IlyAIMY, Steve Pelland
11:30-12 The Belle Hollows, Chip Wilson, Ernest Troost

11-11:30 Dan Pelletier, Jacob Johnson, Chuck McDermott
11:30-12 David Jacobs-Strain and Bob Beach, James Lee Stanley, leslie Evers

Why Even Bother??? (with contests, conferences, and music festivals)

by AlanRowoth on May 10, 2018

Folk Alliance International Conference attendees gathered in Kansas City in February.

This is a conversation I have had innumerable times with my musician friends, but I don’t think I have ever blogged it. i commented on a Facebook post today by my friend Neale Eckstein and got a resonant response to it, so I decided maybe I should flesh it out a little.

I get it, contests, conferences, and music festivals are expensive. They don’t usually pay for themselves instantaneously. It’s an investment. Some contests offer cash prizes, festival placements, gear, studio time or other incentives, but many primarily yield bragging rights and newsworthiness. I don’t have to tell you that there are a glut of performers competing for a far too small pool of gigs and committed audience members. Taken one by one, they may not always look like much, but in 2018, this is how we build audiences and mailing lists. One listener at a time.

There are any number of conferences out there. I’m particularly partial to the Folk Alliance conferences. This year, my calendar includes all of the regionals as well as the International Conference. I find them very worthwhile. They give you access to people in all sides of the live music business from venue operators and Deejays to Agents, Managers, and Radio Promoters. We haven’t been properly courting the mainstream news media, but occasionally one of those will wander curiously into our domain as well. I dream of the day when NPR and PBS always have a reporter covering the events. There’s South by Southwest, the Americana Music Conference. NACA, APAP, and others. There are tangential conferences like VIdcon, Playlist Live, and E3 aimed more squarely at content creators, but still very interested in Music. Film Festivals, like Sundance, Cannes, and others. Our insatiable need for more, new, different content only seems to grow and grow and grow. We are constantly finding new ways to exploit music. You might also find a way to infiltrate your music into gatherings of a nonmusical focus. Arts and Crafts fairs, cooking events, goat yoga weekends, domestic abuse survivors, 12 step gatherings, or parents of twins and triplets (Yeah, that’s a thing. I just met some in Pittsburgh) Whenever you have a group of people cut off from their normal day to day lives, you have a better chance of making connections with them.

And then there are the music festivals, many of which have showcases or even contests that offer exposure at the festival level to an audience that had no intention of coming out to see you this weekend. Most of the festival goers are listeners, there for fun, but you will also find other musicians and industry people mixed into that group as well.

The common thread here is Networking, getting to know a bunch of people who didn’t know you existed and making a favorable impression (sometimes even lifelong friendships.) It’s not enough just to be good any more. That might have cut it back in the day when the Big 6 record distributors controlled radio and retail, but those days have long since passed. There is an absurd amount of music being created every single week, both in audio and video form. Finding your audience (or them finding you) is more difficult than ever. Even worse, with the disappearance of the physical media for music, the product is no longer your recording, but YOU. You are the thing that has to be exposed and branded. You are the vehicle that can give your art wings.

This is as good a time as any to say that there is no substitute for quality.If you are hoping to make your mark in the business, You need skills, You need to play well and (if you sing) sing well.Your recordings have to sound good and your videos have to look good AND sound good. Most of all, you should be performing and recording great songs. Whether written by you or somebody else, the songs have to measure up. Without these elements in place, no amount of PR and Marketing is going to make you the next big thing.

The curse of the WhiGWAG.

If you are part of my immediate community, You may suffer from another handicap. I call it the curse of the WhiGWAG. (White Guy/Gal With A Guitar) The cheapest, easiest, most practical way to function as a solo singer/songwriter is to play the guitar. it’s a fantastic instrument, with a broad range. It plays a bunch of notes all at once, unlike your oboe, clarinet, or saxophone.The learning curve starts out really really easy. Learn to strum 4 chords and you can play 40.000 songs. Many artists focus on their songs to the exclusion of their performance skills and they can still swim thru a whole night on stage.

Unfortunately, this has lulled thousands of them into a false sense of security. At your local corner bar, you might miss it, but at a festival or music conference, if the program features an endless stream of WhiGWAGs, there is little way to differentiate yourself from the performers before and after you. You and your music get lost. As a programmer, I do my best to alleviate this by sequencing performers who each bring something a little different to the sonic salad, Still it’s a good idea to be really great at something at the very least.You may find that the thing your audiences like best about you is not the thing you think is the best. Hear what they have to say. Great singers can make an impression. Especially if they have a “Signature Voice” like Joe Cocker, Michael McDonald, or Joni Mitchell. If you are blessed with that, use it, don’t suppress it. Brilliant instrumentalists like Jack Williams, David Glaser, Molly Tuttle, Pat Donohue. Jerry Douglas, and others may find that’s enough to lift them above the pack, but don’t kid yourself, all of these artists have thousands of hours invested in their instrument. If you have that kind of self discipline, god bless you.

For the rest of us, you just have to find the thing about you that touches the hearts of your audience. It might be your folksy charm or your Minnesota accent. It could be your tattoos, your quirky hairstyle, or even your hippy dippy wardrobe style. You are looking for the hook, the thing that makes you different. I believe it’s better for musicians to have a sonic hook. but that may not be an option for you. Find out what works for you. Listen to your audience. Respect them and see what you have to offer that brings them back over and over again. Once you establish that personal connection with your listeners, it will be much easier for them to lock into your musical message.

A Little Science

Something often overlooked in career development is the most basic of human traits. Pattern Matching. We all do it, dozens of times each minute. Everything that we taste, touch, hear, smell, or see is constantly evaluated and compared with the sum total of your life experience. Most people don’t even realize they are doing it, but its this very thing that gives context to everything in our lives.This can be a very powerful tool, but our experiences can also trick us into faulty assumptions. Parents do that a lot. Thinking that this kid is going to be just like the last one. (fat chance…)

We are all basically apes with cell phones, careening thru life trying to make sense of it all. Our inner ape is a slave to recognition. The moment you template new data against your old knowledge and determine you have a match, a bunch of things happen. You get excited. Generally you get happier (not always, some input evokes feeling of fear or uneasiness, sadness, even disgust, depending on the life events you associate, but the recognition usually starts you on a journey.)

I’m initially attracted to every woman I meet who has the Polish nose of my first great love. It’s probably not the BEST nose in the world, but you couldn’t prove that by me. I similarly have noted an instant attraction and intrigue around any woman I see reading a book in a public place. That gets my attention like almost nothing else.

This pattern matching is basic human nature. Everyone you have even met does it. This is why branding works, why songs have choruses, why McDonalds has sold Billions of crappy hamburgers, and it’s why you make the same mistakes over and over and over again. We just can’t stop, even if we aren’t paying attention to doing it.

This can be a powerful tool for the singer songwriter. The individuals who jury the Showcases, song contests, and other performance opportunities are generally drawn from a relatively small pool of arbiters of the community taste. These same people are called upon again and again to make these selections for these events. DJs, Presenters, Agents and Managers, others who have demonstrated leadership or a Midas Touch in picking artists for these events. People who hear lots of good music and have a strong frame of reference as to the state of the art in their arts community. These are smart, discerning listeners. And if they are very, very good, they can escape their preconceptions, listen critically, and give a truly unbiased read of the field of applicants. And (hopefully) actually single out the best of the best.

But not entirely, because they are, in fact, only human. And human beings are wired for pattern matching and recognition. If they recognize your voice, or your playing, or a clever turn of phrase, even just subliminally, it’s going to subtly tilt the deck in your favor. The judge may not have any idea. I know because it happened to me.

The simple fact is that you want these opinion makers to see and hear you as often as possible. You want them to learn your voice and appreciate your ironic sensibility

I used to dislike flamenco music. I didn’t understand it. It had the avalanche of notes that bluegrass has but made even less musical sense to me. So I went out and bought a dozen flamenco CDS off the dollar rack and listened to them for a year. Now I love flamenco music, but I had to power thru it in the beginning. Now that it makes sense to me, it’s much easier to enjoy. Even if you “Never Win these things”, there is a subtle, cumulative effect to showing up and participating. If your music actually sucks, this strategy is unlikely to be helpful to you, but if you are firmly in the mainstream of averageness with your musical skill set. This knowledge could make all the difference for you.

But what’s in it for me?

What every contest or showcase entrant hopes for is the brass ring of course, To have your song selected as the best of 20,000 entries, Cash prizes, to win the shiny set of matching Taylor Guitars, to be offered a MainStage set next year at Madison Square Garden. (Hey, it COULD happen…) But most of the participants are going to reap less obvious benefits. Most music presenters are up to their ears in acts that they already want to present. For you to claw your way to the top of that squirming pile, they are almost certainly going to have to see you perform. But these people LOVE to surprise and delight their listeners, so even if they don’t think they are looking for another act to book, they actually can’t help it. Maybe an agent or a manager will see in you an act they can sell to their customers. Record deals are largely an artifact of the last century, but some people still get signed (albeit usually to mediocre deals.) Maybe you’ll catch a sponsorship from a sportswear company or specialty food brand.

Perhaps surprisingly, often the best business connections to come out of these events is collaboration with other musicians. and you never know just when or where it will strike. Last year at the end of the Falcon Ridge festival, one of the headliners had come back over to the Big Orange Tarp to share some songs in our circle. The majority of the festival goers had packed up and headed home, but we had a healthy group of people who weren’t quite ready for the fun to end and it was a spirited get together. Rod MacDonald was playing a bunch of songs from his soon to be recorded new album (he had released a dozen albums or so already, dating back as far as 1983.) Sitting next to him in the circle was one of the bright new stars of folkdom, Kirsten Maxwell, who was not yet born when Rod started selling records. With her beautiful voice and unerring sense of harmony, Kirsten was chiming in on Rod’s songs as fast as he could pull them out. And they sounded amazing together. Fast forward 9 months and Rod’s latest album “Beginning Again” was released on May 1. Kirsten is singing all over that record.

Our cellist from the Big Orange Tarp house band Dirje Childs has been recording cello parts for some of the people working with our bass player, renown record producer and session musician Mark Dann. She records the parts down at Blue Rock Studios in Texas and sends them up to Mark in New York who mixes them onto the albums. A number of people I have put together on stage are now writing or touring together.

Maybe the single most common and beneficial result of attending these things is audience sharing. Simply splitting gigs with other performers that you meet and make a connection with. You play for their audience. They play for yours. And new fans are found on both sides.

It’s a complex calculus deciding whether a weekend at Falcon Ridge trumps a 3 night engagement at the Dinosaur Barbecue . But if the Dinosaur already wants to book you, chances are that they could do it on a different weekend. Are you ready to take the next step? Are your repertoire and skills honed enough to make the most of this opportunity? Only you can say. But think about it. At the very least, you’ll hear a bunch of songs and meet some cool people.

The deadline to submit for this year’s Falcon Ridge Grassy Hill Emerging Artists Showcase is May 15, 2018. Showcase applications for the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference are Open until June 1.





REVIEW: Leah McHenry music business webinar

by AlanRowoth on April 5, 2018

In a nutshell, I wasted 2 hours so you won’t have to. She promised lots of useful information and a PDF about finding your “microniche”. It was total crap. A 2 hour long sakes pitch to join her online Tribe for $767 a year so she can sell you endless Addon’s. There was less info in her 2 hour sales pitch than any one of the CDbaby free blogs I have ever seen. The “info” was internet 101 at best.You need fans. Your music has to be good  Really? What a revelation!

She stiffed entirely on the PDF. All she wants is your money. RUN AWAY.

I wish her luck in her chosen microniche “Celtic Fantasy Metal”. (Yikes!)

Big Orange Tarp events 2018

by AlanRowoth on March 23, 2018

I’ve been working for the last couple of weeks on the Big Orange Tarp mission plan for 2018. For the first time I will be presenting showcases at all the regional conferences in the same year, as well as FAI Montreal in 2019. I often do workshops and mentorings at these also. If there are no official mentor slots left, I’m happy to arrange times for ad hoc mentorings as well.

Look for the Big Orange Tarp this year at:
SERFA Montreat, NC 5/17-21
Vidcon Los Angeles 6/20-23
Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Hillsdale, NY 8/3-5
Song School Lyons CO 8/13-16
Rocky Mountain Folks Fest Lyons, CO 8/17-19
SWRFA Austin, TX 9/26-30
Far-West Folk Alliance Woodland Hills CA 10/11-14
FARM Grand Rapids, MI 10/24-28
NERFA Stamford, CT 11/8-11
Folk Alliance Montreal 2/13-17, 2019

I’m thrilled to be able to continue doing what I do without having to charge the musicians for it. There are many wonderful support professionals who make their living supporting this community and are worth every penny you pay them, but it feels so good to be able to do what I do regardless of someone’s ability to afford me. I worked many years as a paid computer consultant, but this feels soooo good.

Endless thanks to my many partners in these endeavors. Tom Neff & Grassy Hill, Bill Nash, Sally Johnson, Sandie Reilly, Jeff Miller, Scott and Paula Moore, Chicago Mike Beck, Walter Munson, JB Nuttle, George Wurzbach, Dirje Childs, David Glaser, Mark and Alyssa Dann, Annie Wenz, John Becker, Wiley Ware, Steve Seskin, Arthur Lee Land, David and Dawn Harrienger, Chadd Ferron, and so many others who help me at various events across the continent. There are no small jobs. Whether you are stage managing, playing in the Big Orange Tarp band, providing a crash pad or Amtrak pickup, doing refreshments or helping with the always arduous setups and teardowns. I appreciate all of it more than I say. Im always trying to do more and, with your help, I’m succeeding.

Many thanks to the wonderful musicians we are thrilled to showcase and all the Presenters, DJs, Photographers, and listeners who attend our showcases and carry that music out into their local communities, spreading news of these fine artists. It is harder than ever to build a sustainable music career, which is what I’m striving to help each and every one of our musical partners achieve.

If there are events or opportunities you believe I should be working with, other synergies, or suggestions of any kind. I’m happy to hear them. (Although I’m already spread sort of thin…) I’m always looking for more and better ways to help.

You can find more information on Big Orange Tarp events, a primer on live music streaming, and my other educational presentations on my blog at

Thanks again for your support!
Alan Rowoth, Ringmaster
The Big Orange Tarp

Big Orange Tarp Showcases Rm 552 FAI 2018

by AlanRowoth on January 20, 2018

Sandie Reilly and I are super excited for our BOT showcases at the upcoming Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City. Partnering once again with Access Film Music with assistance from Grassy Hill. All of these performers are super strong and ready to headline your venue. Click on the artist name to visit their websites.

Big Orange Tarp FAI 2018 Showcases
Rm 552, Access Film Music Blue Room

11:30-12 Tom Prasada-Rao, Molly Tuttle, Hadley Kennary
12-12:30 Freddy & Francine, Robby Hecht, Son of Town Hall

11:30-12 The LYNNeS, Gretchen Peters, Rachel Kilgour
12-12:30 Freddy & Francine, Ryanhood, Tom Prasada-Rao
12:30-1 Emily Mure, Johnsmith, Abbie Gardner

11:30-12 Alice Howe, Rachael Kilgour, Freebo
12-12:30 Tom Prasada-Rao, Martyn Joseph, Mary Gauthier
12:30-1 Gretchen Peters, Mary Gauthier, Sam Baker
1-1:30 Freddy & Francine, The LYNNeS, Kirsten Maxwell

Special mention should also go to some of the fine performers I was unable to slot due to late registration, schedule conflicts, time limitations, or a variety of other issues. These folks all appeared on my wishlist at some point during the process. Most of them simply registered after all my invites had been sent. All deserve your consideration and I hope you will add them to your list of people to hear at the conference.

In no particular order:
Rachel Laven, Rod Abernethy, Josh Harty, Heather Mae, Caroline Cotter, Bill Nash, Tim Grimm, The Sea The Sea, Melissa Greener, Ben Bedford, Ben Shannon, Dan Navarro, Dar Williams, Anais Mitchell, Molly Ventner, Heather Pierson, Hope Dunbar, Ian Foster, Susan Cattaneo, Ronny Cox, Jack Williams, Alice Hasen, Zoe Mulford, Dan Weber, Emily White, Nichole Wagner, Rosie and the Riveters, Alexis Normand, Joe Jencks, Russell DeCarle, and The Young Novelists.

If I posted videos from all the artists, it would likely choke your web browser. Here are a handful to whet your appetite.

live video from the event:

Thursday night

Friday night

Saturday night

Alan Rowoth & Sally Johnson Present: The Big Orange Tarp #NERFA2017

by AlanRowoth on November 6, 2017

Fiske Room (across the hall from 2045)

Click on the artist name to view their web page

Friday Afternoon


Friday Night
11:45p-12:30a Neale Eckstein & Friends
3:00 Open Circle


Saturday Afternoon


Saturday Night
3:00 Open Circle


Sally and I are very excited about this year’s lineup. A mix of old friends and new. All high quality, bookable (except maybe Eric Schwartz, you have to talk with him about that…) acts that reflect the best of what our region has to offer.I encourage all of you presenters and DJ’s to come and camp out, enjoy Sally’s excellent refreshments and make the most of our efforts. If you are a musician, our open circles are outstanding and a great place to network with other musicians. (And a great way for Sally and I to hear you, because we don’t showcase artists that we haven’t heard perform live.)

Ordinarily, I sign up for the excellent NERFA mentoring program, but I got tied up with other stuff in the runup to the conference and didn’t reach out to Doctor Bob before it was too late. I was hoping to present my live streaming workshop that I shared this year at SERFA. SWRFA, and FarWest to enthusiastic participants, but the programming committee didn’t find a place for it in the NERFA schedule. So I am considering doing some ad hoc mentoring on the how and why of live streaming your music. I’m talking hardware, software, platforms, monetization. A pretty comprehensive overview of this technology that I think couldn’t be more timely. Check out my blog post regarding Far West and you can read some of the handouts I created.

If you are interested in learning more about this, send me an email to and we’ll see if I can find a time to talk with you about it. We are blessed to have some wonderful formal showcase artists playing in our room, but here is a smattering of videos from fine artists we are presenting who didn’t make the formals. We give great room.



The Big Orange Tarp at FarWest 2017

by AlanRowoth on October 3, 2017

I’m very excited to be attending my first FarWest Folk Alliance Regional Conference this coming weekend in Bellevue, Washington. It’s the only Folk Alliance Region I have never attended.

I will be hosting a Guerilla showcase in partnership with Access Film Music in their Blue Room #647

Friday 11:30p-12am Beth Wood, Nathaniel Talbot, James Lee Stanley in the round
Saturday 11:30p-12am Alice Howe, Freebo, Chicago Mike Beck in the round

(Artist names are linked to their websites)

I will also be doing a workshop “Using Video to build Fans and Make Money” on Sunday from 11:30am-1pm in the Evergreen A room.

This will draw on material from several of my recent blog live handouts:

Videos – How and Why

Your Internet in 2016

Live Streaming – What are you waiting for?

Getting the most out of and live streaming alternatives (updated 9/27/17)

Video Q&A and gear notes from SWRFA

Playlist Live D.C. – Impressions

There are many ways to use video to forward your career, I’m going to try to touch on as many as I can while leaving an ample amount of time for Q&A. I do online handouts for several reasons. Primarily because the the attendees can pay attention to what I’m saying instead of madly scribbling notes the whole time, but also because my handouts contain dozens of live links, making it easier for you to drill down to the information you need, and because these are living documents which I may update from time to time. This way, you are always seeing the most current version of the handout. I encourage attendees to peruse some of this material before the conference to determine if the workshop piques their interest and to be thinking about questions they may want to ask.

Video Q&A and gear notes from SWRFA

by AlanRowoth on October 3, 2017

I had a great session on video at last weekend’s Southwest Regional Folk Alliance conference. Thanks to Dalis Allen, Paul Barker, the Flying A’s, and everyone else working the conference. We had a spirited Q&A session afterwards and I wanted to add these notes and gear links.

For artists concerned about posting video to YouTube, read this post from CD Baby. Performing covers in live streams seems to be SN issue that’s almost impossible to track and regulate. At present, there don’t seem to be any legal roadblocks.

I mentioned that I have started a Facebook group called Live Music Streamers and asked people to join if they start streaming or are considering it, so that we can work together to support each other, handoff broadcasts, and share information.

We talked about other (mostly expensive) gear options.

I’m dying to get my hands on a Soundcraft ui24r. I’m told it’s now core audio compatible with iOS. It features 20 Studer mike preamp channels, 4 lexicon DSP effects processors, 2 channels of DigiTech guitar amp modeling, featuring 4-band parametric EQ, high-pass filter, compressor, de-esser, and noise gate on each input channel and 31 band graphic EQs on each output, remote control from your computer device, built in wifi and Ethernet as well as direct recording to USB stick. It is also a full featured A/D, D/A interface for your DAW software. An incredibly powerful and versatile piece of gear.

We talked about the Cinamaker Mobile Creators Studio, a live video switcher tool that can also be used for video editing. Now entering Beta, it supports up to 4 iOS cameras, prerecorded video insert, ChromaKey effects and much more.

We talked a little bit about the Livestream Mevo event camera, a self contained solution for broadcasting to Livestream, Periscope, Twitch, or Facebook live. This camera does not currently support any of the new live streaming apps. It has a couple of interesting features and some dramatic limitations. Still, I would love to play with one. Music Streaming would likely require additional audio gear to achieve acceptablesonic quality. Here’s a couple of reviews:

Mevo, the Live-Action and Live-Editing Camera

I mentioned, an upcoming service that promises to rebroadcast your stream concurrently to multiple streaming services at once. Mevo also promises a multistreaming service, based on a subscription model. It’s too new to say for sure if either of these will truly launch. missed its initial launch date.

And there’s the Samson Go Mic Mobile Wireless system for times when you can’t run microphone wires to the correct location. Here is more info:

Another handy tool for streamers on the go is the Smove, video stabilizer and power bank with face follow and auto panorama shooting. Smart gimbal stabilizers are the latest thing in making motion videos look more stable and professional.

Reviewers also love the DJI Osmo stabilizer which costs about twice as much as the Smove and doesn’t charge your phone. DJI is best known for their camera drones, like the $1000 DJI Mavic. Great toys, but probably not essential for most music videos. I want one, even though I can’t think of one excuse good enough to buy one. I wonder if anyone rents them?

Live Streaming – What are you waiting for?

by AlanRowoth on September 27, 2017

(This post is wordy. If you don’t want the metastory, you can skip down to my previous post for more how and less why).

Live Streaming is the hottest thing in social media. Studies have shown that posts accompanied by a graphic are much more effective than text only posts. Video ups the ante even more. In the battle for your ears and eyeballs, all the major social media platforms are falling over themselves to feature video content of all kinds. Engagement and “stickiness” rule the day. In a society increasingly too impatient to digest the written word, Instagram and YouTube currently rule the internet. Facebook is rushing to catch up. A platform that makes you pay not to hide your content from your friends and followers, Facebook currently gives 1000% priority to your Facebook live videos. Instagram is copying SnapChat with daily “stories” for your followers. There are a dozen competing live video streaming platforms all trying to be the next Facebook. Periscope,,, Busker, Livestream, YouNow, Twitch, Bonklive, Concert Window, House Party and others are all attempting to pull the sword from the stone and knock YouTube off its perch atop the streaming world. Their position is far from secure.

Launched in 2005, YouTube really caught fire in 2007, spawning dozens of video stars making comfortable livings sharing all manner of video content thru the service. There were essentially no gatekeepers and you could build your own niche. The demographic of early adopters was primarily young and somewhat socially rebellious. Unsurprisingly, many of the successful broadcasters made their living playing pranks on each other and making asses of themselves. But there were also musical sensations like Justin Beiber and Carly Rae Jepson, who broke out to very successful mainstream musical careers. Meanwhile Network television survived a punishing writers strike with a successful zigzag to “Reality Television” (though there is very little “real” in that genre…) Thousands of Americans lunged forward, looking for their 15 minutes of fame. The terminally ADHD flocked by the thousands to Vine with its videos limited to only 6 seconds in length. In its initial foray into video, Instagram only allowed 15 seconds (then a minute, now even more). Even YouTube is now in the streaming video business.

The shakeout has already begun leaving Vine and Meerkat in the dust, but the battle rages on. Bonk Live launched in September and recently celebrated their 1 year anniversary. I have friends who believe that video streaming is only a fad. (To which I respond, “Like motor cars, motion pictures with sound, and the cell phone…”) Like most emerging technologies, the demographic of early adopters has been young. When Facebook was launched it was for college students only and primarily used as a tool to hit on girls, but now it is mostly populated by adults. When I attended the Playlist Live conference is D.C. Last month, Facebook was universally distained, with one panelist emphatically proclaiming, “Nobody under 50 is on Facebook anymore!” While I know this not to be true, I have observed that most under 25’s who are using Facebook now save the really juicy content for their contemporaries on other platforms like SnapChat and Kik. Facebook is still the place to share graduation pictures with Grandma and Grandpa. I believe that streaming services will also see an influx of adult users, who are traditionally slow on the uptake. Don’t get me wrong, I am an enthusiastic user of Facebook. My 3 primary uses are to stay connected with distant family and friends, music evangelism and discovery, and political activism, but I also clown around a bit. Like many though, I have grown increasingly disillusioned with their financial model, which is crafted to extract as much money as possible from both users and content providers. They have no understanding or empathy for the regional, independent musician and make it increasingly difficult to use Facebook for audience development.

We live in an era where music has become formless and media free. With the disappearance of the physical CD, it becomes increasingly difficult to make audiences attach a monetary value to music. Most radio stations have been supplanted by streaming services like Spotify, Amazon Prime, and Apple Music, all of whom remunerate artists at shockingly low levels. Record stores have disappeared almost entirely. A full time musician these days must make the lions share of their income from gigs and in person merchandising. It can be a grueling lifestyle. Couple that with the ever increasing level of competition in the field and it’s no wonder that many lifelong performers are turning to other occupations.

One constant is music has always been change. In the early 20th century, composers earned their income from the sale of sheet music. In the early 1930’s live radio caught fire. In 1934, less than one household in 3 owned a radio. A year later, 2/3 of American households had one. Many homes also had a Victrola. At the end of World War II, German audio technology flooded into America, making possible high quality and multitrack audio recordings. The 45 rpm single and the 12″ LP weren’t far behind. Radio and television were transformed from live mediums into broadcast platforms for recorded content. Copyright law was amended, ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC were created to provide and income for songwriters whose sheet music sales had dropped to infinitesimal levels. At the same time, opportunities began to appear for exploiting published music in radio and tv production.

In the 1960’s Marshall McLuhan sagely proclaimed, “The Medium is the Message!”

The burgeoning middle class and booming economy led to all sorts of innovation and consumption. 8 track tapes, cassettes, CDs, Laserdiscs, DVD’s were everywhere. With the widespread acceptance of the CD, record company greed had tripled the retail prices for a mainstream record release, even thought the manufacturing costs had dropped by a factor of 3x or more. This made record companies wildly profitable, but it also opened the door for the independent music industry. For the first time, small labels and even individual artists could afford to produce, manufacture, and distribute their own recordings. Not long afterwards, home recording equipment became widespread and highly affordable. It had never been so easy or so affordable to be a professional musician. With over 25% of music sold now coming from outside the “Big Six” music conglomerates, their stranglehold on radio and retail was broken and the gatekeepers lost their ability to dictate America’s musical tastes. Musicians had never had it so good and many finally saw a way forward to make their living in music. Cable TV and subscription radio appeared. The number of outlets for art multiplied exponentially.

In the 1990’s Al Gore and others recognized the promise of the internet and transformed it from a research only platform which expressly forbid online commerce, into a marketing juggernaut that democratized the creation and distribution of all manner of digital content and information. There has probably never been a more American Innovation than the internet. It supports our entrepreneurial spirit and progressive policies, but also institutionalizes our racism, prejudice, and provincialism. It is a tool of enormous power and threat. If we don’t embrace our better angels, the Internet could eventually be the weapon that consumes our society. Only time will tell.

But now in 2017, the music industry is faced with sea change again. Record companies and radio are largely irrelevant. Retail in all sectors is on the ropes, under siege by giant internet corporations able to provide better selection and pricing for all manner of goods and services… sales of audio and video content have reached historic lows with no sign of rebound. The economic model that created the independent recording industry is no longer reliable. And, once again, the music industry needs to reinvent itself.

I hope and pray that there will always be an appetite for live music concerts. Never have we faced so much competition, but I think live performance retains substantial power. Clearly though, there are not enough live performance opportunities to sustain the talent pool and even long standing music venues frequently disappear. I don’t believe a resurgence here is what will save us.

The massive redistribution of wealth in America has had soul crushing consequences. Our eroding middle class and tone deaf politicians have pushed us into an economic death spiral. Although hopeful that we can reverse this trend, a great deal of damage has been done to the consumer and their pool of disposable income. It will be years before we can truly solve this problem. In the meantime, I think the patronage model illuminated by Patreon, kickstarter, and other platforms offers the hope that composers and performers will be sustained by those who can afford to help and music increasingly distributed to whoever loves and appreciates it.

Compelling as that Patronage model is, I don’t think it is the only solution. Life in any profession has a financial balance sheet. Your adjusted income as a musician is the net result of your income minus your expenses. Every dollar you don’t have to spend in pursuit of your art is a dollar (or more) that you don’t have to earn. Four hugely draining expenses for the professional musician are travel, food, lodging, and time. (Yes, Virginia, time really IS money…) and

This is why I believe live streaming is destined to become an essential leg of the stool that many musicians rely on to survive.

Today a typical gig for a regional musician might involve $100 worth of gas, $100 worth of lodging, a full day wasted doing non musical tasks like driving, humping gear, searching for a decent restaurant, etc. if that gig only results in a couple hundred dollars worth or ticket sales and merchandizing, a handful of names to your mailing list, many of these gigs may leave you in the red. It may erode your personal relationships at home. Occasionally you will break a toe or destroy your transmission and incur much more significant losses. It takes a lot of dedication (a.k.a. Stubbornness) to be a road dog.

But imagine you could roll out of bed, do a couple of items on your honeydo list, pick up your seven year old from school, make dinner for her and your spouse, step into the music room, push a few buttons and 5 minutes later be performing for hundreds (or thousands) of listeners on the internet. Surprise! You can. Platforms exist today where content creators are already doing that. boasts over 300 million active users, has over 625 million. The penultimate live performer at the Playlist Live conference I attended a few weeks ago was a young woman named Dodie Clark who has over 1.2 million followers on YouTube. Screams were deafening when she took the stage. I had never heard of her before that weekend.

I’ve been beating the drum for 5 months about with surprisingly little result in our community. Human beings instinctively hate and fear change. Many musicians have a poor technical background and a bad track record with technology, but if you learned to operate a guitar amp or PA system, you can certainly master live streaming. A lot of people ventured into concert window and failed because the conventional wisdom was that you should use a laptop, a cheap webcam, and a USB microphone. This may have made sense to the guys who invented it, but struggling musicians often aren’t computer geeks. Many have laptops that are 6-10 years old which are slow and poorly configured. By contrast, a majority of them own smartphones that are less than 2 or 3 years old which make much better broadcasting hardware.

There’s not a lot of information on piping album quality audio into your smartphone, but I demystify that for you. Check out my video on 3 alternatives. Your smartphone probably also has an amazing camera or 3 built right in. However you decide to stream or record video, you will find sensible lighting design to be important. The good news is that you can acquire this for a pittance. With very little financial outlay, you will discover that you can create a very effective stream and reach thousands of prospective listeners.

All it takes is enthusiasm, dedication, consistency, investment of time and (I believe most importantly) a quality performance of quality music.

The ease and convenience of streaming is a double edge sword. You can walk into your music room and push a button, but so can everybody else. The listener only has to listen for long enough to decide if they resonate with you before they swipe down and move on. They haven’t invested time and money in a car ride. If you bore or disappoint them, there is an endless supply of other streams.

When you investigate the streaming platforms, you will encounter enormous amounts of vapid, valueless content. You will be tempted to think that the audience is stupid and the platform is without value. This is a huge mistake. But if you want to “win” at the streaming game, you will have to be talented, entertaining, proficient musically, and an engaging personality. You will have to understand the quirks of the platform you choose and the best ways to reach out to its user base.

Above all, do not be afraid to define your streaming space as a place you feel comfortable. The gatekeepers are gone. If you want to busk, busk. If you want to stream your rehearsals or songwriting sessions, that’s okay too. You don’t need to copy the other broadcasters, in fact, you will likely do better if you don’t, but instead create a unique space.

I have seen users succeed with streaming and it is quite clear that it is possible. Brenna Katz, a partially deaf high school senior from Sudbury MA has made over $5000 in tips in the last few months on which she has invested in a home studio. She’s working hard to live her dream of moving to LA and entering the professional music business. Ironically she might find it just as easy to succeed from her parents house… Alexis Rose has 125,000 fans, Amber-Tiana has half a million. There is no doubt that you can build your social media following on publishes a weekly chart of the top 50 broadcasters on Some of these have been wildly successful. Several Twitch and YouTube streamers are millionaires. Beyond simple in-app tipping, Agents, managers, and MCN’s (MultiChannel Networks) have discovered a myriad of ways to monetize your social media using endorsements, sponsorships, product placement, affiliate links, YouTube’s AdSense, Google’s AdWords, and a variety of other tools. (Including public appearances, book deals, modeling and acting in film, tv, and commercials.) There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are lots of opportunities for those who search for them.

At the recent Playlist live conference in DC, the message I heard over and over again was that persistence and consistency are the key. Panelists didn’t seem to think as much about quality content, but I believe that is paramount. There are so many choices, and so many more who will be joining the gold rush.

I think your music and your performance are crucial. All the persistence in the world isn’t going to build a following if you don’t make the grade.

The other thing I feel very strongly about is that Now is the time. If you wait for everyone else to figure out how to master this new opportunity before you dig in, the competition will be far more daunting. So… What are you waiting for???