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Livestreams were a lifesaver for musicians and fans alike during the pandemic, approximating the live concert experience and allowing everyone to feel slightly more normal in an abnormal time. That said, livestreaming is only the beginning of the conversation when it comes to connecting with your biggest fans.
While a good stopgap, livestreams are a passive experience. They’re inherently less exciting than live shows and offer virtually zero opportunities for meaningful interaction and connection. When big artists with bigger budgets jumped into livestreaming, the landscape became more challenging for independent artists. And, when you consider that promoting livestream events can be a heavy lift in itself, it’s obvious that while livestreaming solves some problems, it also creates others.
Thankfully, there is a better option that lets you skirt these issues.▼ Article continues below ▼
Interactive sessions offer the same basic premise — a virtual event with your fans — while being relatively easy to execute and immersive for everyone. Interactive sessions like the ones we help artists offer let fans click a link, join a session, and start engaging with you regardless of their system or setup. Interactive sessions allow artists to offer unique opportunities to superfans and followers, unlocking new revenue streams in the process.
Here’s how to make your first interactive session successful:
Before you do anything else, figure out how you’re going to structure your session. Let yourself be guided by what you really excel at or love doing, and by what your fans have the most interest in.
We’ve seen two types of interactive sessions as the most exciting and interesting: master classes and creative review sessions.
Master classes are sessions focused on sharing tips, tricks, and skill-building approaches for fans who also make music, produce tracks, and write songs. The great thing about these sessions is fans will know unambiguously what they are paying for; if your session is titled “EQ Master class” or “Ableton master class,” fans will understand the goal of the session.
A creative review session is a way to give your fans feedback on their work. Review sessions are very easy to set up and run and could even follow master classes that tackle a specific skill. In a review session, you are giving fans constructive criticism of their work, whether we’re talking beats, verses, or full songs.
If you aren’t sure or need more information about what your fans actually want, ask them on your social media channels or via an email newsletter (if you have one), giving them a few options to choose from. Then dive into the most popular options.
Once you’ve nailed your structure and approach, plot it all out. Hosts should have a mental or written outline or roadmap of how a session will be paced to give the audience the best chance to get involved. It’s probably a good idea to have a few extra activities on hand to pull out of your back pocket just in case something doesn’t quite connect or takes less time than you anticipated.
You’ve got it all planned. Now it’s time to let the world know what you’re offering.
To do this well, you need to describe what the session will be about so people come prepared and ready to engage. Go into detail about what fans can expect to learn, what kinds of equipment or software they will need to have, and what skills (if applicable) they will need to bring to the session to make the most of it.
The clearer you make your description and expectations, the better fans will be able to engage and gain something from the experience.
Once you have your session planned and announced, it’s time to get ready for the session itself.
Get your space/studio ready. Prep all of your instruments, samples, and tools beforehand, and make sure that anything that has a battery is charged. Have an outline of the session prepared at the outset so you can move through the activities you’ve planned and focus on interacting with your fans.
Make sure your lighting works. A well-lit set adds a level of professionalism to your session, so an inexpensive ring light might be the difference between good and great. Good lighting also allows your fans to see exactly what you’re doing, which is important in teaching moments or if you’re showing fans around your setup.
Check your connection. Lagging is a streamer’s worst enemy. A poor internet connection can stand in the way of a great session with your fans. Make sure that your internet is stable and can support your session. Do test runs before your first sessions to make sure everything’s running smoothly.
Being a professional is about being on time, looking the part, and delivering what is expected of you. Your audience took the time out of their day and paid money to watch and learn from you, so show them you care by being ready to go from the jump. Arrive early, start on time, end on time, and treat the session like the paid gig it is. Stay focused on what you’re giving fans and you’ll be sure to succeed.
Be aware of how you speak and what you say. Not all commentary, humor, and language is appropriate for all audiences. If you’re not sure a joke will be understood, skip it. If your session makes anyone feel uncomfortable, it’s a failure. Remember, your fans are there for a reason; as opposed to a performance in front of hundreds or thousands, this is a smaller and more intimate experience, which presents its own challenges.
Since BeatConnect launched in 2020, the Montreal-based audio creation and collaboration platform has paved the way for musicians anywhere in the world to come together in shared virtual spaces. Seamlessly integrating into all major DAWs, BeatConnect allows users to collaborate in real time from their respective home studios. Once BeatConnect is installed, musicians and producers can start playing and editing together with no extra setup required. Select fans can join the party, unlocking new possibilities for creators and makers to engage with fans. BeatConnect’s Lite version is free and its Premium version costs a one-time flat fee of $29.95.
** main photo by Thomas Minnich is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0