Best Practices for Online Shows

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade! And that’s exactly what local musicians are doing all over the United States as millions are confined to their houses, apartments and room during the Coronavirus pandemic. We put together this  short list of “Best Practices” when it comes to setting up quick and easy virtual online events. Even seasoned musicians who have been playing for decades have little experience producing, promoting and sharing live feeds on social media platforms without any help, so here goes…


Let’s start with social media giant, Facebook which does a pretty good job if you already have a good number of friends and followers online.  You can easily set up a Facebook Event Page on either your personal or business page.  If your personal page is say, John Smith and your business page is John Smith Musician, I’d recommend using the business page.  If your business page is ABC Pressure Cleaning Services, I’d recommend using your personal page to set up the event.  If you select your personal page for either promoting or streaming, please make sure that your privacy settings are set to public.  Whichever page you choose, be sure to make that page the primary host of the Facebook event and post a link on the other page so people know where to find you.

Be sure to set a clear title to attract eyeballs and leave the location field empty since you really don’t need anyone physically visiting you or just set it to the city you are in.

In the event description, let people know exactly where to navigate once the time comes to see your live stream, otherwise, they may get lost when they get the notification that the event has started.  You might also list more than one page where the stream will be shared, especially if you have multiple accounts such as is the case if you are a duo and each player will be streaming via their own phones.  Keep in mind that centralizing the stream to one page means that everyone can see everyone else’s comments instead of some people wondering whose comments you are reading because there are multiple feeds going on at the same time.

Post a start time and end time so people know how long you are planning on playing.  Since most people will not stay more than an hour but not everyone will tune in immediately, it might be a good idea to stay online about an hour after the greatest number of people sign in and that’s why 90 minutes is a happy medium. And if, for some reason, you are still setting up when the time comes, post a quick message on your Facebook page(s) letting people know that you are running a few minutes late.  In your event description, please make it clear again what time and time zone your show starts.  We have seen many instances of musicians who traveled out of state to central and mountain time zones and tell their followers in the Eastern time zone that they were starting at 7pm only to disappoint fans who tuned in an hour or two late because of time changes. We have also seen musicians from Europe and England use UTC times, in which case it would be great if they gave a conversion factor in their event notes.

Here’s another tip if you want to go the extra mile.  Use the ticket link offered on the Facebook event page to route viewers to Eventbrite or any other online ticketing system which allows people to pay online.  The only downfall to Eventbrite, in this case, would be that you must fix the ticket price to a set amount and then wait about a week after the event if over to receive your payment in the mail.


If you are using your mobile phone or tablet to handle the recording, be sure to mount it on something stable so it will not be vibrating as you are playing.  You should also turn off all notifications so your recording doesn’t get interrupted by strange unintended noises.

If you rotate your phone to horizontal view, you will get a wider screen image.

Be sure to mount the phone/camera at eye level or higher so you don’t get that strange view as if people are watching you sit on the toilet.

Set the camera far enough away from you so that your instrument is not too close to the microphone and viewers can see both your face and your hands as you’re playing. Try not to cut your head off in the process of framing yourself.

If your camera has an edit function that appears near the go live button, you may need to set it to reverse the image as we have seen a lot of right-handed guitar players look like they are playing left-handed and words in the background appear as if you were looking at them in a mirror.

Last but not least, if you have light coming in from behind you such as a window on a sunny day, you may need to pull down blinds or change positions or else you will look more like a silhouette when you start recording.


Before you press the Go Live button on your phone, be sure to post multiple ways that people can donate. Venmo, Cash App and Paypal appear to be the most popular methods for online tipping yet not everyone has access to all of them so give them several choices if possible.  You can also take advantage of the captive audience and advertise additional services such as online music lessons as an example. Be sure to remind people about making a donation every few songs. Also, if you are posting on your personal page, don’t forget to change your security level to public to maximize the number of potential viewers.

Take the first few minutes to solicit feedback from those tuning in.  This gives a chance for more people to join in without missing too much and allows you to adjust sound levels and maybe camera angles by reading the first set of comments streaming in. Don’t forget to take time to read comments in between songs so that you can have some audience interaction, even if they are not physically in front of you.


Once the show is over, leave it online (unless it was a total flop and you are embarrassed to have even more people see it).  If you remove it from Facebook, anyone that shared it during the broadcast will get the dreaded “Attachment Unavailable” error message.  You may also find out the hard way that Facebook has muted your recording due to copyright infringement when playing covers.  If this is a concern, you may want to move the live stream to YouTube or save a copy of the finished video and then upload it to your YouTube channel to preserve it in its’ original form.  YouTube also tends to offer higher quality video and won’t mute videos when they detect copyrighted material.

Remember to keep in mind that even if you didn’t collect a lot in tips, the goodwill may result in more fans attending your future shows and more venues booking you after seeing how impressive you really are.

Good luck!

More Resources for Serious Live Streaming

  • OBS Studio – Free and open source software for video recording and live streaming
  • StreamYard – live streaming dashboard in your browser
  • Facebook Live Producer – Links your encoding software and hardware to your Facebook page
  • Restream – lets you stream simultaneously to 30 different social platforms
  • – Powerful and Easy-to-use Streaming Platform (7 day free trial)
  • Crowdcast – the closest you’ll come to hosting a real conference but online
  • PTZ cameras – remote controlled robotic video cameras that can pan, tilt and zoom
  • StageIt – Earn money while streaming performances via a website built for live music

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