Audio Advent Day 15: All About Live Streaming - Part One

With the ability to enjoy live entertainment severely curtailed this year, the closest many are getting to their favourite artists is the streamed concert. The trend is only set to grow, and while hopes are high in the industry that more live events can take place next year, artists around the world have been ensuring their fans still have access to live music by harnessing the power of the internet.

Live streams have taken a number of forms this year.  Amongst the most popular and celebrated have been Bono from U2 who wrote and then broadcast a new song for St Patrick's day, and Elton John, who hosted an event filled with home-based performances from a range of artists including Billiie Eilsh, Sam Smith and Dave Grohl, all in aid of emergency services workers,


Artists have taken advantage of the interactivity offered by the stream format, with Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello collaborating to put on a set from their garden, while Coldplay's Chris Martin took to Instagram, taking requests from fans via the comments.

 



A slightly more live-feeling gig was crafted by country star Keith Urban, who streamed from his warehouse in Nashville, surrounded by guitars and amplifiers.

 

 

 

As lockdown eased, the ability to use studio space was embraced, exemplified by
Christine and the Queens who hosted a series of scheduled events filmed in-studio and Paris, and broadcast at ten PM every day.

 

 


Perhaps one of the most innovating shows came from Yungblud, who pulled together a stream rather like an evening talk show, with live questions between sets performed by invited guests Oliver Tree, Bella Thorne, and Machine Gun Kelly.

 



The humanity has been touching too - none other than Miley Cyrus has been tackling mental health, with the aid of Dr Amen, and Canadian rockers Arkells put together sessions teaching followers how to play guitar.

 

 



But the question on the minds of researchers at Zeppellin University, in Germany, is this:  which of these live streaming formats is most live-like?

 

“In times of the corona pandemic, digital formats are the only way for cultural workers to reach an audience at all and continue to retain them", the study says, but points out "which offers work and which ones could actually be future-proof has so far been largely unexplore."

The study will be based around a concert program of works by Beethoven, Brahms, and contemporary composer/conducter Brett Dean, and will be broadcast in six different formats, with the audience members being monitored as part of the process.



One will be an on-demand stream - which has the benefit of being maximally flexible - fans can chose the time and place, and make sure they're not going to be interrupted, and settle back and enjoy.

A "social event" concert stream will also be aired, in which fans can interact with the musicians before, after, and during the break of the performance.

Brett Dean himself, composer in residence at the London Philharmonic and Orchestra National de Lyon, will present a "know more" stream, with commentary throughout the performance.

More radically, there will also be a "virtual reality" stream, and a "digital house concert", in which people get together in small numbers to watch the concert together, and finally a lab-based session, in which physiological responses will be measured.

The study is accepting volunteers, so if you're interested, head over to the Digital Concert Experience page.

Tomorrow we'll talk about strategies for getting the most out of these live streamed events, musically and visually, but for now, stay safe, and make the most of these innovative ways to enjoy music as this challenging year draws to a close.

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