Technology has demonetized and dematerialized many aspects of our lives over the last two decades.
This includes the ability for musicians to perform for and connect with people through musical performance without having to 1) find a venue, 2) deal with booking agents, 3) creating, printing and distributing promotional materials, and a list of other things that you become responsible for when booking events as a independent band or solo artist.
You have to book other acts, make sure the venue owners and bartenders are tipped and happy, pay everyone, and convince people to set aside time to come out to your show so you actually make your money back. It can be overwhelming and quite the daunting task without a knowledgeable and motivated team in place.
Don’t worry folks… back to technology.
Below are 10 platforms, apps and services you can use to not only perform for music lovers all over the planet from your bedroom, garage or studio; but you can also receive tips….from anyone anywhere in the world who connects with you.
Not every service listed below has built-in tipping features but you can still accept tips through other services by encouraging listeners to donate using your PayPal address or to buy your CD from your website.
- Paypal allows you to create short-links which take people directly to your PayPal profile so they can send you tips.
- Snapchat has a feature called Snapcash where users can send and receive money.
- Apps like Cash from Square, Inc allow you to easily send/receive money which deposits directly to your bank account.
Let’s start the list with the services aimed at indie musicians.
Street Jelly is busking for cyberspace.
Free to watch. Free to chat. Free for musicians to perform by webcam.
Viewers can tip you using tokens which equal $0.16 / token in U.S. dollars. Funds can be withdrawn to your PayPal account when your account hits the $50 minimum threshold.
Concert Window allows you to livestream using your mobile device or laptop.
Viewers can watch for free or you can 1) sell tickets, 2) accept tips, or 3) offer rewards. Concert Window keeps 30% and sends you 70% the day after your livestream event.
According to their about page, it is always free for artists.
Although I have yet to stream live on YouTube using the built-in platform, I would assume viewers can support you monetarily through the Fan Funding feature. (Make sure it is turned on inside your YouTube account. You have to accept terms and manually activate it.)
To get to the Live Streaming screen, simply go to your Creator Studio dashboard and click the Live Streaming option in the left-side menu.
Google+ Hangouts on Air
This is the platform I am most familiar with and although there is no internal tipping feature, listeners will gladly donate using PayPal if they are feeling your music. I’ve seen it happen many times.
Our Mid Tenn Listens Live review show, hosted and produced by C Bret, was achieved by using a mix of Google+ Hangouts on Air and Zoom.us (which I plug further down this list). Hangouts on Air allows 10 people in a stream simultaneously. From there the administrator of the room can mute microphones or allow viewers to ask questions, make comments, and so on.
Bret and I live streamed every night of shows from The Brew in Manchester, Tennessee during MusicTree Festival 2013. While bands were on-stage, we took questions from Google+ viewers who were watching live from around the globe.
The cool thing about Hangouts on Air is the fact you can start an event from your band’s Google+ page and it live streams not only on G+ but also to your YouTube channel. This means people not using G+ can tune in just by going to your YouTube channel. Since more people use YouTube, this is a pretty big plus.
Hangouts on Air also provides a studio mode for broadcasting which is optimal for bedroom musical performances or even when full bands set up in their studios before going live.
Periscope is Twitter’s answer to mobile live streaming video and it is highly popular with a lot of community management and marketing types due to the ability to engage intimately with others face to face.
Simply download the app, sign in with your Twitter account, then start broadcasting. People can watch replays for up to 24 hours within Periscope or you can use a service like Katch.me to save your Periscopes for future use.
Facebook Mentions is the live streaming app for Verified Facebook Pages. If your artist or band page is not verified, then this will not be available to you.
You download the app, connect as your band or artist page, then broadcast live anytime from anywhere using a mobile device (assuming you have an internet connection).
This could change soon considering all the development and competition in the mobile streaming video space. I’m not sure if or how much longer Facebook can keep holding out on opening this to more than just verified pages.
Second Life…yes the virtual world/game.
I know it sounds crazy but James Olmos, a friend of ours at Middle Tennessee Music.com, is an independent musician who is crushing it performing his music in Second Life.
I have never played the game so I have no first-hand experience or knowledge on how this works but I know it’s possible. If you’re familiar with the game and are a musician, think about this as an option.
Ustream.tv has been around longer than most of the platforms mentioned previously. With that said, they are worth checking out.
However, you will have to set up a paid plan if you want to use this service. As an indie musician, you’re better off using all the other services. At one time Ustream allowed users to stream for free but it appears that has been trimmed to a 30 day trial.
The only reason I am plugging Zoom.us is because I know it works. Bret used it for his Mid Tenn Listens Live review show and up to 25 people can be in the live stream simultaneously engaging in conversation or sharing thoughts about music.
You can connect and stream using your computer or a mobile device.
Blab.im is a new service, still in Beta, that keeps popping up on my radar…daily.
Blab.im allows 2-4 people to jump into a room simultaneously to chat, discuss topics or even conduct podcast interviews. With that said, you could perform small, intimate concerts for 3 fans. The videos can be replayed so you are able to share them with more people.
Even though it’s marketed as a discussion platform, nothing is stopping you from grabbing your guitar and singing a song.
Skype has also been around for a long time. Even though I am not sure on how many people can be in a conversation or “room” at once, Skype is another platform to consider.
This is another way to perform small, intimate concerts for just a few people.
Snapchat is not a live streaming platform per se but the recent Chat 2.0 update put the app’s communication features on overdrive.
Snapchat crushes in engagement over other platforms I have been using and their new update is only going to make that better.
Now you can initiate voice or video calls with your friends AND, if they are not available, you can record an audio/video message for them.
A lot of musicians are already on Snapchat making very creative use of their Stories but now you can livestream 1-on-1 concerts for specific friends you have connected with on Snapchat.
Or better… you can now leave short audio or video messages sharing a new song lyric or riff you just came up with. This type of intimacy and engagement brings much more value to your creative process and the support system you build around your creations.
Want to learn more about Snapchat? Check out our 10 articles to help you crush it.