Online shows aren’t always all they are cracked up to be. Some have overwhelming technical issues with sound, video, or connection. Others are too drawn out and straight up boring. Some are pretty great, but having them every other day becomes exhausting even for the most devoted fans.

We reached out to fans on our platform, as well other popular social media, to talk about what they like, dislike and want to experience at online concerts, and here is what we found.

Adjusting to the format makes all the difference

Photo by Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash

One Reddit user suggests taking a harder look at the “getting out of the house” aspect of gig-going and how lack of it affects your online audience. Obvious as that might be, many performers default to planning out and then playing their online show very similarly to the way they do at venues.

This is not an optimal approach.

Think of your online show vs your live show as a TV show or movie production vs a Broadway play.

When the actors are on a stage, far from the audience, they are required to emote more schematically and vividly, while for on-screen productions it’s important to deliver emotions very subtly and sometimes not at all as the director has built up the visual path for the viewer to walk through all the twists and turns of the story.

One fan shares their experience with Goose Live From Out There Show: “That one stood out not only because the guys were playing well, but it just had this cool, house-party vibe to it.” The show organizers adjusted to the format of a stay-at-home event and played it up instead of playing against it, so should you.

Deliver the energy

Photo by Hannah Gibbs on Unsplash

Another very popular note from fans is the show energy. Or rather, lack thereof.

The adrenaline rush you get from getting on stage and preparing to perform to a crowd of strangers might be difficult to replicate at home, but the acts who have managed to do so have gotten passionate praise from fans tuning in:

“9/10 times it seems like the musicians don't quite put the same energy in when there isn’t an audience (much love to those who do, though!),” shares music lover Scully.

Think of it this way – a professional doesn’t always have the luxury of ideal conditions to perform to the top of their abilities, but the job is to be reliably good and entertaining. Streaming a show you’ve put together yourself with what means you had on hand might not be your ideal gig scenario, but it’s still a job, so why not turn it around and play a home set that rivals your best offline gigs?

Nail the technical side

Photo by Anthony Roberts on Unsplash

This one might be tricky as it’s limited by the amount of technical knowledge you already have and can possibly figure out in the days or weeks leading up to your show, as well as your existing equipment and the budget to expand.

But the truth is, production quality, crisp sound, good lights, clear video – all can make a big difference in your audience’s final impression about the show. Music lover Patricia shares her recent online show experiences: “There’s a delay using zoom. I’ve seen good players not sound good.”

And the bigger the act, the higher the expectations. One user wonders: “Plenty of amateur videographers and filmmakers get much better results from consumer-level cameras every day so I don’t know why big label acts have shitty quality for some of their bigger gigs they had time to plan.”

Our advice here is twofold.

Read all the tips on making your show look and sound good – we’ve actually created our own little guide back in April and stay tuned for a post on sound quality that’s in the works! Next, put all the advice to practice and diligently test out what your show sounds and looks like. Watching yourself on the screen will help you understand the viewer perspective and introduce a few minor tweaks that might make all the difference.

Fans crave interaction

Photo by Ellicia on Unsplash

Fans really appreciate being acknowledged and being able to feel that the event they are attending is actually happening in the present moment. This helps them connect with the artist and feel more impacted by the goings-on on the screen.

One music fan explains the point this way:

“The ones I liked the least are the ones where there’s no interaction at all and it might just as well have been (or in some cases was) a prerecorded video,” shares Pieter. “I don’t care how professional it looks/sounds, a prerecorded video is not a live stream,” he stresses.

Some ways you can recreate this atmosphere of connection at your show include opening up a chat for your audience and/or including some of the audience members singing or dancing along to the webcast as you play.

Another fan expands the point: “The thing I enjoy about the live streaming is the interactive aspect with the crowd, [musician] commenting on people[‘s] comments as they come into the chat feed,” shares Tony. “It really helps with the sense of community and helps to make the “live” aspect feel live!”

A Reddit user supports: “I’m hoping if they continue to do these livestreams they continue to explore ways to involve the audience... even if it’s having a chat scroll on the side, requests, etc.”

But there can be too much of a good thing as music fan named Pam shares that she’s “less enamoured with the hellos to friends they spot leaving comments on the notifications feed.” She would rather listen to more music: “Most performers could have got[ten] a couple more songs in rather than spend time reading comments out.”

Intermissions overtake is a no

Photo by Natalie Parham on Unsplash

It’s only natural that you want to describe the music you are playing and provide the context for your art to your fans. But be careful to do so in a succinct, to-the-point and entertaining way.

In our chats with fans, we’ve heard quite a few complaints about shows getting drawn out and straight up boring precisely because the artist tended to fill up the spaces between songs or tracks with stories and anecdotes that aren’t particularly entertaining, necessary or well delivered. Ouch.

Even the most hilarious stand-up comedians try out all of their stuff many times on smaller audiences to perfect the delivery, so make sure all of your intermissions are funny, entertaining, and short enough to not be labeled as boring even if you aren’t the most gifted storyteller.

And this is what a fan on Reddit had to say about their most enjoyable experience with skillful intermissions: “Marc Rebillet’s livestreams are consistently entertaining. I’m not 1000% a fan of everything he does, but he does a great job of interacting with the audience via chat and the call-in line and the resulting banter/improv made you feel like you wanted to keep watching and not miss anything.”

Final thoughts

Photo by Keagan Henman on Unsplash

“It was an amazing musical experience that made you feel closer to the band,” shares one of the fans we talked to on Reddit. And this thought sums up our overall impression that fans love hearing their favorite acts in spite of the social distancing limitations.

So no matter how big or small your fanbase is, playing an online show is a great way to develop your relationship with the audience. And if your show is that good, you even stand a chance to get new ones!

Want to stage your own online show? We can help.

Stage your online show:

Start here