Live-Streaming is Here to Stay
by Tom Edwards
Per state and local guidelines, we recently re-opened our doors in Nashville. We’re sanitizing surfaces, employees are wearing masks—and from what we understand, Bruce Lee and his kung-fu cohorts have superhuman immune systems. (If you’re a Nashvillian friend of ours, then you know what I’m talking about.)
As we slowly begin the process of reopening the country, broader questions are on everyone’s minds. A lot of folks are saying we won’t see large-scale music events until summer 2021. Considering the impact that musicians, producers, tour managers, and studio owners have already felt from COVID-19’s fallout, the future is feeling bleak to some. The good news, though, is that the coming year could present a new channel of growth for those who have the means and gumption to embrace our changed circumstances.
While in-person events may be on a temporary hiatus, content consumption is at an all-time-high. People are hungry for new music, videos, and livestreams. And they’re eager to support the artists they love. It’s the lattermost channel which seems particularly captivating to audiences. As you’ve probably seen over the past couple months, millions of users are tuning into livestreams from all kinds of content creators: from the festival-like “Public Access” series that Jack White’s Third Man Records has been hosting, to individual streams from musicians, actors, teachers, and even bartenders.
Musicians and their Fans are Forming a New Bond
To me, the most interesting part of live-streamed performances is that, in ways, it’s even more intimate than in-person shows. When was the last time you were at a concert where your favorite artist paused between songs to answer general questions from the crowd or take song requests? Live-streamed performances present an opportunity for artists to connect with their fans like never before. And the fans themselves are treated with an inside glimpse into the more personal side of the songwriters they love.
People across the world are experiencing a shared struggle—even if only in terms of a collective feeling of uncertainty—and I’ve felt that it’s brought us closer than ever to the songwriters we turn to for comfort. Something so simple as a toddler or a pet wandering on camera during a superstar’s performance serves as a warm reminder that beneath our many veneers, we’re all just regular old human beings. Now that such a window between fans and artists is open, neither side will be eager to close it.
While all of us will be more than ecstatic to return to our favorite local venue and punish our eardrums and livers for a few hours, I’d say live-streamed music will settle into a comfortable coexistence alongside traditional shows moving forward.
An Opportunity for Audiophiles
Live-streaming doesn’t have a reputation for pristine audio quality, but that has a lot more to do with the cumulative effect of the equipment being used than the concept itself. In fact, it has the potential for far higher audio quality than a traditional live show!
Live-stream performers can take advantage of a stationary, controlled environment by using studio quality microphones, preamps, and outboard gear in a treated space. Equally important, the right kind of analog-to-digital conversion, encoding, and streaming gear can make the difference between an artifact-ridden cacophony and CD quality sound.
The overall goal in live sound is to reach a compromise somewhere between delivering the best sound quality to each person in the room (which presents a challenge all on its own), avoiding feedback and unwanted proximity noise (bye bye to most condenser mics), and using gear that can stand up to the rigors of the road. With live-streaming, the goal is to deliver the best sound quality in the most reliable way, period. By removing some of the most technically complex variables from a traditional live performance, there’s a potential for higher sound quality.
Turn-Key Live-Streaming Systems
Although they’ve gained quite a bit of attention in recent weeks, high-end streaming installations are nothing new for us at Westlake Pro. We’ve designed and integrated streaming rigs in all kinds of spaces—from humble home studios all the way to complex multi-room facilities. (Not to mention, we’ve done quite a bit of live-streaming ourselves with our proSESSIONS event series!)
We’re ready to design and build a brand-new live-streaming space, or upgrade your existing studio with the best streaming rig for your workflow. Of course, if you want to pick up the gear and get to work on your own, we can help with that too. If you’re interested in learning more, or are ready to take the next step, give us a call!