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How to Host Your Own Online Virtual Music Festival

With hundreds of festival and music events across the country being cancelled this summer, you may be feeling disheartened and stuck on what to do next. Below we give you all the tips and tricks on hosting your online music festival.

festival

Here’s how to stream your event, which platforms you can use, how to prepare a lineup, what equipment you need and how to develop your brand to promote your event. And ultimately how to make money for the performers or a charity.

How to host an online music festival

So, how can you keep your fanbase engaged when all your gigs are cancelled? How do you host a virtual event? Which platforms are best to use when running an online festival? And how to promote your event?  Below we’ve gathered all the information you need to make sure your online event is successful.  

Hosting a virtual music event

The music industry is all about gigs and performances, and connections and collaborations between artists, but the importance of self-isolation and social distancing puts a hold on the sociable side of things leaving us musicians in a rut.  

With your festival plans most likely being moved online, and ticketing being in aid of charities as opposed to a festival experience, why not host your event from the comfort of your bedroom? Being at home doesn’t mean musicians and singers have to put their career on hold. Online events may be the new norm for a while, so now’s the time to get to grips with digital platforms and streaming sites.  

How to run a successful virtual event  

It’s important to choose the right streaming platform for you. There are several options out there, some which are solely designed for online events, and others like Instagram and YouTube which have streaming options built into them. It’s a good idea to target the site that’s easiest to access and the one you have the greatest following on to maximise listeners tuning in.   

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Best online concert platforms  

  • Gigee is a great platform if you’re looking to schedule and promote a ticketed event. It’s free to use, although the site takes 20% of revenue off the event earnings, so if you’re planning on doing a non-profit concert then this isn’t the site for you. 
  • StageIt is similar to Gigee, but fans can tip you and you can set different charging prices for your fans.  
  • Twitch is a streaming platform for gamers, so it’s not specific to musicians, but there is an entertainment category and it’s a simple, free site to use.

How to host a virtual event on Facebook 

The easiest option is probably to stream through your social media account.  

Facebook Live is a very popular site to use. Live streams attract a bigger audience than prerecorded posts because it’s the closest people can get to a real festival at the minute. Joining in with like-minded music fans across the world creates a shared experience which could also encourage people to donate via a virtual tip jar, like PayPal, which can go towards your next gig.  

Instagram and YouTube are also great social media sites that allow streaming options. If you want to stream using your phone, you need at least 1,000 subscribers to go live on YouTube. If you want to stream using your laptop, you’ll need to verify your YouTube account (which can take up to 24 hours) and use a Google Chrome web browser.

What equipment should I use to host an online gig? 

The most important requirement is a performance space. It needs to be a quiet room, with good WIFI and preferably good acoustics. Soft furnishings or cushions will reduce reflected sound and improve the quality of your stream, it’s a good idea to test the sound quality before you go live.  

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This is the basic equipment you will need: 

  •  Lighting – if you’re streaming during the day, then sitting by a window with ambient lighting will work, or if you need artificial illumination the best option is a professional ring light- but you could use overhead lighting and lamps from around the house. 
  •  Microphone – you can use a built-in microphone on your mobile or computer, but a professional mic will massively improve the sound quality and professionalism of your concert
  •  Amps and speakers – if you decide to use a USB mic then you should plug it directly into your streaming device and you won’t need an amp, but if you use a lollipop mic then plug it into your amp and it will be picked up by the audio on your computer. For bands, you could plug each of your instruments into a mixer then into your computer to export it directly to your DAW.
  •  Phone or laptop/desktop – make sure your device is fully charged and has good internet connection or mobile data. 
  •  Instruments – whether you decide to use backing tracks or play instruments live as you sing, tune and test them beforehand to get the levels right and of course, warm up your voice.
  •  Cables – to connect your instrument or mic to your amp and/or mixer, the most common cable is the jack instrument cable, if you’re using your phone, make sure you have an aux to aux cable on hand.

Online concert tips 

Timing is crucial. It’s a good idea to carefully choose a date and time for your concert. Even though people may not be out and about as much, they’re still busy. Hosting a concert during the day isn’t a good idea, as people may be on conference calls or homeschool zooms. 

Virtual concerts  

You need to decide well in advance whether you want to plan a solo gig or a festival style line up with other artists which will require more planning.  

If you decide to do a solo concert, it’s easier to go live on the night. But, if you’re curating other artists performances to showcase, then it may be a good idea to prerecord some of the elements to ensure smooth user experience.