Note: This post 3 Livestreaming Tips For Artists is a special guest post by Sharayah Pranger. You can learn more about Sharayah at the end of the post.
Do you livestream your art? Streaming is a rapidly growing industry, and the preferred form of entertainment for thousands of gamers and other enthusiasts. 80% of consumers, in fact, would prefer to watch a live stream from a brand rather than read a blog (source: livestream.com) The art industry isn’t excluded from this phenomenon, and in fact the medium may apply even more to art lovers who love to see behind the scenes of their favorite artists. Streaming is a great way to build and appease a hungry audience. But how can artists get started streaming?
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- Find your people
The first order of business for artists dipping their toes into livestreaming is to figure out where their ideal audience is. Live streaming is available on every major social platform. The top 5 places to livestream are Twitch, Instagram TV, YouTube Live, Periscope, and Facebook Live.
Which platform will work best for livestreaming my art?
- Facebook Live is a great way to stream for followers you already have, “on the fly” or planned. Use Facebook Live to share announcements, show off a finished piece, go live from an event, etc. If you create a closed group for monthly patrons, Facebook Live is a great way to give those supporters exclusive content. However, Facebook Live will not help you grow your streaming audience because the only people who can see your livestreams are people who already follow you.
- Twitch is the most well known platform built exclusively for live streaming. If you’ve heard of Twitch before, it was likely in the context of video games. The functionality of this platform is a little different from the more general social media platforms. Twitch is a great platform for discovering new content and creators. Categories include hundreds of video games, puzzles, card games and board games, and much more. The Creative category is growing, but it is not Twitch’s bread and butter (that’s gaming by a long shot) so Twitch may not support the channel the same as the more popular gaming streams that bring in the most revenue.
- IGTV is Instagram’s answer to Twitch and YouTube. Any Instagram user can create a channel and post videos to it, including live streams. Live videos do not remain on Instagram unless you save them and upload them back to your channel as a replay, or save them to your highlights. Keep in mind that unlike Twitch and YouTube, Instagram is a mobile-only app. All videos must be uploaded from your smartphone, with exceptions only for very very large accounts. Instagram is an extremely artist-friendly platform due to the overall emphasis on visual media, so you will find many, many artists streaming their work there. While this means that there’s already quite a bit of saturation, there is also an abundance of vibrant hashtags and communities that consume their favorite videos voraciously, so there is a lot of potential to grow your audience there.
- Periscope is most similar to Twitch in design and function, but it is meant more specifically for mobile. Once you’ve clicked through to a stream, the desktop site is very similar to Twitch. What makes Periscope different from Twitch is that Periscope is more balanced in the features and coverage of other topics and interests besides gaming, which may be in your favor as an artist. Periscope can be a useful tool if you want to imitate the immersive, community-driven Twitch experience on a different platform. However, like Facebook Live, don’t rely on Periscope to gain you new viewers. It may be a good choice if you have an established audience elsewhere, or are using Patreon and would like to offer live streams to your patrons apart from Instagram or Facebook.
- Any channel in good standing has the ability to live stream on YouTube. There is also a general “Live” channel which is broken into categories, but at the time of this writing there is not yet an Arts or Creative category. Artists with an established channel on YouTube should give live streaming a try. If you already have a YouTube channel with subscribers, it will be helpful to keep your live streaming on the same platform as your other content rather than forcing your fans to switch between platforms.
- Start with a smartphone and a tripod, or a good webcam.
You can spend hundreds (or thousands) on fancy hardware if you wish, but to get started livestreaming you truly don’t need much more than a smartphone with a tripod, or a good webcam. The webcam that comes pre-installed on many laptops, however, is not usually of high enough quality to livestream.
Webcams vs. smart phones
The choice between livestreaming your art with a webcam or a smartphone depends largely on the platform and/or software you’re using. Broadcasting with a smartphone is useful for a quick stream on the fly, or any time you’re livestreaming “on location” away from a proper setup. Keep in mind that your smartphone battery will drain rapidly when you’re live streaming, and it’s also challenging to keep the picture stable. If you’re using a smartphone you will also need a good tripod that you can attach to a surface at various odd angles to achieve the right view of your work. There is an abundance of tripods available on Amazon that maintain a secure grip on your smartphone while contorting into any number of crazy positions to get that perfect angle.
You can acquire a webcam of decent quality for under $80. A second webcam trained on your face (a “face cam”) can add an extra dimension of fun and personalization to your streaming, but one is plenty to start with!
- Invest in good lighting
Even a lower quality webcam can be redeemed with great lighting, and in fact if you must choose between the two, prioritize excellent lighting. A great, expensive webcam won’t do anything for you if your workspace is drenched in shadows. This is a non-negotiable when livestreaming your art making. A poor visual experience is likely to guarantee that your viewers don’t return- what would be the point?
A couple of simple lighting options include:
*A ring light (for even lighting)
Make sure that you have as natural of light as possible trained on the portion of your workspace that your livestream viewers will see, and test it out in advance to make sure you have as few shadows as possible. The more clearly your viewers can see your work, the more likely they are to stick around (and return).
More tips for a great streaming experience
As you get into the swing of things, there is an abundance of ways to make the experience even better for your viewers. The simplest way to accomplish this and to create raving fans is to pay close attention to the chat, and engage with your viewers! A few more ideas include:
- Discuss the inspiration behind the piece you’re working on live.
- Invite viewers to ask you questions. Answer them in real time as you work!
- Set up a second camera focused on your face so that your viewers can see your expressions and watch you talk and work. Some streamers who are very comfortable in front of the camera make their face cam the primary image and the art camera a secondary view, and some do it the other way around.
- Display your materials for the camera and have an in-depth conversation about what they are and why you use them.
- Play music. A note about playing music on a live stream: you can’t play music that is copyrighted. Read Twitch’s rules on playing music during live streams: https://www.twitch.tv/p/legal/community-guidelines/music/
The sky’s the limit when it comes to the creative ways you can use technology to enhance your livestreams, and there are endless possibilities for entertaining your viewers and even involving them in the art-making process. The best news of all for artists is that the barrier to entry into the world of live streaming is very low. With little more than a smartphone and a tripod or webcam and a well-lit space, you can start live streaming on almost any social media platform in just a few minutes, surprising and delighting your fans and collectors.
Sharayah Pranger writes for The Abundant Artist, where artists learn how to sell their art online. She is a marketing content strategist and has been writing and editing professionally for ten years. In her spare time, she enjoys drawing, crocheting, and preventing her two children from burning the house down.
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