Live Streaming Services: Empowering Artists and Creatives

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As a successive alternative to practicing for free, these UM webcasts are an example of the golden opportunity that is a well-promoted online concert. Specifically, music fans are far more prone to buying a twenty dollar ticket for a webcast than a twenty dollar ticket to that hockey game with a free backpack giveaway. Assuming that a webcast does in fact come to fruition, a music group can put an end to those Saturday night “I wish we had a gig” laments and proceed to an experience quite akin to that of a regular gig preparation. With a set date and time in mind, the idea is then to promote the webcast across all available online mediums so as to attract a solid audience. Potential show promo and the actual existence of a social media age evidenced by certain friends and family watching a live stream and making online comments during a band’s test run suggest that the audience will in fact be compiled. This is a good thing. Aforementioned anyone? Step three is guaranteeing an all access backstage pass for the fans who will very likely ask for ticket price justification. The idea behind any type of a show preview is a means to entice your enthusiastic yet thrifty supporters and will be best exemplified by something mentioned later. And finally, whatever the content, the show, or the promo, we all know that it’s a successful gig when you’ve been given more money than beer.

As basic Google searches would suggest, the decision for a band to perform live online is definitely not the most traditional one, though in the 21st century the concept of a live concert is an ever-shifting practice on the whole. To prove our point, we could focus on the most recent success of Chicago’s Umphrey’s McGee, who on January 1st, 2011, used the UCLUB platform to webcast an entire live performance of their newest album Mantis to a worldwide audience. The event received much acclaim, with the band having charged each viewer $10 to watch the concert, which was a success in its own right because in so few cases today are music fans willing to shell out any money for anything. Cause there’s always a catch, right?

So, how did we get here? This question is relevant to the music industry on so many levels and asks so much of a community that has been asked to do more with less each and every year. Well, here’s one answer – today’s web-savvy musicians need to promote their music, connect with fans, and book shows – all in the name of advancing their careers and putting more money into making more music. Regarding a potential way to connect with fans, booking shows, and making a little bit of money all at once, artists would do well to consider hosting an online concert.

Benefits of Live Streaming Services

Live Internet broadcasting services can open up new opportunities to deliver content that meets the needs and wants of a global audience through an interactive and engaging experience. Live broadcasting services offer instant accessibility to viewers who are interested in content that is only available live or for a limited time on traditional broadcasting mediums. These are often events that are happening in a different time zone, for example, sporting events, concerts, gaming, and live music performances, or events that are not covered by mainstream media. This can appeal to both local people from different regions who are interested in the event, as well as fans from around the world who want to experience an event as if they were there. Music, the teaching of a second language, and casual chat with viewers are also examples of content that can be tailored to a global audience.

Establishing an immediate and effective connection with your potential viewers is the key to the success of any broadcast. An inactive audience is more likely to change channels. Capturing and retaining viewer interest is extremely difficult since there are so many options available to people to satisfy a particular need. Mark Fisher, vice president of entertainment services at Blockbuster, explains the situation facing today’s broadcasters: “There’s a lot more competition for the entertainment dollar now, and people want to be more selective with how they spend it.”

Reach a Global Audience

Finally, consider the expatriate: people who have left their homeland behind and are trying to find their way in a new country. These people often seek ways to connect with those who understand their sacrifices and the lives they left behind, and a community based around a globally streamed event can serve as a beacon to help them find those who share common interests and background. With the recent cancellation of real-life events due to the global crisis, it may also help these people find something resembling the overseas communities they have lost.

For online gaming communities, many of which grew up under the shadow of the original DotA, live streaming can be considered the next step in a long lineage of grassroots replay sharing; making it easier to share one’s gameplay experience with both friends and a community that may also learn from what they are doing. With eSports on the rise and developer support for new titles becoming increasingly focused around competitive play, it is a good time to be a competitive gamer, and there are few better ways to get noticed than offering insightful commentary to a live online audience.

There is, of course, the issue of dealing with language barriers and cultural divides between people. But among those who are dedicated enough to find something they are interested in despite these barriers, if one is to consider that live streaming allows for real-time feedback and links people through common interest, the internet may as well be the new Tower of Babel. A global audience is something that comes naturally with the internet, and simply casting one’s line into the sea of netizens will surely yield those who speak the same language and share the same passions.

The thought of reaching an audience that spans across multiple continents and covers every timezone is one that many musicians, artists, and aspiring entertainers alike hold as the ideal in their mind. To have a global audience means to have the opportunity to affect the world with one’s craft, something that once upon a time would have seemed completely unattainable for independent entertainers without a budget and connections. At this stage in the game, live streaming is a completely realistic way for a wide variety of talent to reach this goal with complete control over their content.

Monetization Opportunities

Once artists and creators have built a user base on a live streaming service, they may have opportunities to directly monetize their content. There are a variety of ways streamers can make money on a live streaming service, which can be divided into two categories. The first is virtual tips, where viewers can donate small sums of money to the streamer, either through built-in microtransaction services on the streaming platform or through third-party payment handlers. The second is premium content, where streamers provide viewers that pay a subscription fee with exclusive content or features. An example of virtual tips can be seen in TwitchTV’s partnership with an online payment system called Xsolla. Xsolla has integrated a microtransaction service into TwitchTV, where viewers can purchase a premium currency called “bits” and donate them to streamers. Another example can be seen with YouTube Gaming, which allows streamers that have reached a certain number of followers and views to become a YouTube partner, where they can enable a feature that allows viewers to donate money to them through a service called fan funding. Premium content services are generally offered by more established streamers who have built a loyal fanbase. An example of this can be seen in Azubu’s implementation of a feature called “Pro Pass”, where viewers that purchase a subscription gain access to HD quality streams, exclusive emoticons, and a chance to win prizes.

Interactive and Engaging Experience

Having fans engaged during a live performance is one thing, but after the live event has ended, there exists a different type of engaging content. In the age of media oversaturation, finding ways to keep fans interested can be difficult, but having engaging content that is easy to produce is a plus for artists. An alternative to traditional live performance streams, some artists have used live streams to give a behind-the-scenes look into their daily lives. This can include stuff like interviews, cooking dinner, practice sessions, video games, music production, etc. Basically, anything an artist does can be interesting to some group of fans, and this is a good way to create engaging content with little effort.

With the modern internet age, piracy has become a huge issue, and one thing many artists struggle with is how to keep fans paying for music. One possible answer to this may be live streaming a newly released album. Most fans will scour the web looking for free ways to hear the record, but if there were a live event where fans could hear the music and engage with the artists, something like this could have more success.

Another good way to engage with fans is using live streaming features to do special live fan events. An example of this could be an artist doing a live fan-based Q&A session where fans can ask questions through a chat window and have them answered in real-time. Another idea could be doing online acoustic performances which fans pay a small fee to view. This is a very intimate and special unique event for fans and is something they can’t get from just watching YouTube videos of acoustic performances.

A lot of live streaming platforms have a chat feature, and often times during a live performance, fans will have questions for the artists or want to give feedback. Having a chat window is a quick and easy way for fans to have their questions answered. Some very dedicated artists may miss these questions at public performances, so this is a good way to see just how dedicated some fans are and to strengthen relationships with fans, big and small.

Interactive and engaging experiences with fans have always been a major goal for artists, and being able to achieve that in a time where technology plays a major role in what we do is always a plus. Live-streaming takes this goal to another level, with not only real-time engagement with fans during a live show but also having content that can be continually engaging after the live show has ended. This is a major benefit for both artists and fans.

Challenges and Considerations

Servers and CDN solutions are widely available, but choosing between them can be a difficult task for someone with little technical knowledge, and the widespread use of multiplatform releases in modern gaming can complicate the issue of which server location will provide the optimal viewing experience for a diverse audience.

High CPU usage also presents a problem for streamers who wish to interact with their audience via video games, as the best PC gaming experiences are typically resource intensive. Additional bandwidth is also a concern, particularly for those who seek to broadcast in high definition. In order to provide a quality viewing experience, broadcasters must have sufficient headroom on their available upload at all times. This represents a significant challenge in countries lacking the internet infrastructure of East Asia and Scandinavia.

In terms of technical requirements, live streaming is a continually evolving field; each new project comes with its own set of difficulties. Recent advances in video compression have opened up the internet as a broadcast medium, but high quality video encoding demands significant CPU resources. Current live encoding solutions can require a dedicated machine for the task. This can be a budgetary challenge for newcomers, who may not have anticipated the cost of outsourcing stream encoding to a hosting provider as a regular expense.

Technical Requirements

The latest trends towards live streaming services have also indicated that a large portion of content is in the form of video gaming, either from platforms like Twitch or live speed running events and video game marathons. It is important to ensure that the medium that the gaming community is live streaming is of sufficiently high quality. This is especially important in speed running events, as frame rate and video quality can determine if an attempt at a record is accepted.

Different streaming services have file size limitations or ratio limitations, so it is recommended to know what these are. For example, if you are using the free version of Google Drive to host and serve your .mp4 files, you can’t exceed 15 GB of bandwidth per day, both upload and download combined. A 1080p video file streamed in full-screen mode over Google Drive will download at about 2.8 MB/s or 20 GB per hour.

Streaming typically requires access to a high-speed internet connection, so the chosen content delivery method must be suitable for the viewer’s connection speeds. If a viewer has a high-speed internet connection, then they can select a high bitrate video stream. High-quality streams are those where the viewer has access to a high-speed internet connection (greater than 1.5 Mbps) and plays the video in full-screen mode. Medium-quality streams are those where the viewer has a connection speed less than 1.5 Mbps and plays the video in full-screen mode. Viewing the stream in windowed mode on a high-speed connection or in full-screen mode on a low-speed connection will have similar results to the high and low-quality streams.

Copyright and Licensing Issues

To broadcast copyrighted material on a streaming show, the user must either own the copyright to the material or have a license to broadcast it. Furthermore, the rights to reproduce and distribute copyrighted material belong exclusively to the copyright owner, and are two rights included in the bundle of rights transferred upon sale of a copyrighted work. When a streamer plays music or video games whose content is owned by a third party, it can be argued that the streamer is violating one, if not both, of these rights. However, it is also possible that an implied license exists for the copyrighted material. Implied nonexclusive licenses can be created from conduct under Section 204 of the Copyright Act, and it can be argued that the copyright holders who employ content claiming on YouTube are granting streamers an implied license to play their games and monetize the videos. While a few streamers may indeed possess licenses for some of the material they use, for the reasons discussed above, this subject has not yet been a significant issue in the live streaming community.

Audience Engagement and Retention

Another simple yet effective method to build a loyal viewer base is by having a consistent schedule. By making it clear when you will be online to your viewers, they will be more likely to come back and watch at those specific times. This will also help to retain viewers as the more they visit your channel and there is content to watch, the more likely they are to become regular viewers.

There are a few ideas that a streamer can use, however, to mitigate those issues. Firstly, streamers can hold events or tournaments surrounding their broadcasts. This is an effective way of piquing current viewers’ interest and can also be attractive to new potential viewers. Viewers will be more inclined to watch streams that are linked to a higher level of competition, and the higher stakes involved in tournaments make for more compelling viewing. However, depending on the type of event, there can be significantly more effort and organization required by the streamer.

As discussed earlier, the live streaming services‘ ability to democratize digital broadcasting means anybody can now begin to run a live channel. The increase in the number of live channels has led to a competitive environment where it is increasingly more difficult to attract attention. In the Ubitex survey, 44% of respondents that currently use live streaming have said that they have experienced difficulties in attracting viewers. This is also exemplified in the same survey where 30% of respondents currently not using live streaming services cited the fact that it is difficult to pull viewers away from already existing, more well-known channels to theirs.

Competition and Market Saturation

The Asian market is dominated by a slightly different issue. Professional gaming leagues in Korea, for games such as Starcraft, have legally questionable contracts with the players that can force them to exclusively stream on a certain platform (commonly the one paying said league the most money). Failure to comply can result in dismissal from a team or a ban from league participation. It’s hard to say where streaming platforms that don’t play ball with these organizations will fit into the content landscape.

Justin Kan, the man behind Justin.TV, sees these sites becoming the modern-day cable TV, and the content strategy would likely be similar as companies look to space advertisements. Kan sees content delivery networks like Akamai pushing high bandwidth costs down the throats of small streamers and removing video quality options for viewers unless the broadcaster in question is a partner pulling in >500 viewers. User Hoshizora predicts similar income and quality tiering, forcing low and mid-tier broadcasters to hit a minimum viewer quota to maintain quality options for their viewers. This is tough because the audience has no reason to delve into the back pages of a directory list when the top few streams have the exact same production value as TV.

The video live streaming market is already becoming very cluttered, and it’s getting harder for established artists and entertainers to stand out, let alone newer ones. Ustream CEO Brad Hunstable sees the existing power structure in entertainment perpetuating itself online, with traditional media companies essentially pushing their own content to the top of search results. The most viewed channels on Twitch, for example, are populated almost entirely by professional gaming organizations with active support from the game publishers.

Future Trends and Innovations

Overall, all of these future trends and potential innovations have the potential to bring new opportunities for artists and creators to deliver unique and immersive experiences to their audiences and could potentially provide a viable alternative to traditional forms of art and entertainment.

Another potential trend is the development of AI algorithms which are able to provide content recommendations based on the users’ preferences and the demographics of specific audiences. Currently, one of the biggest challenges for new artists and creators is building an audience and getting their content noticed in an oversaturated market. With the implementation of AI content recommendation systems, small creators will have a more effective way of targeting their content to their intended audience, and users will be able to quickly find the types of content that they enjoy. This could potentially reduce the barrier to entry for new creators and may allow for a greater diversity of content, as creators will be less inclined to conform to popular trends in order to gain exposure.

Currently, VR is a technology that is predominantly used by gamers and is still relatively expensive and inaccessible for the masses. However, as VR becomes more affordable and widespread, we can expect that artists and creators will begin to utilize this technology as a way of delivering immersive and unique experiences to their audiences. Whether it be through virtual galleries where artists can exhibit their work and conduct live Q&A sessions or through musicians/sound artists performing live shows in virtual venues. This is a trend that has the potential to significantly impact the way in which art is consumed on online platforms and has the potential to create an entirely new market for VR art and VR music. With the increasing movement towards remote working and digital nomad lifestyles, it’s possible that VR events and art shows could even replace their real-life counterparts.

During an age of rapid technological innovation, the potential future trends and innovations of live streaming services for artists and creators are almost countless. By looking at existing trends and technologies, we can already begin to speculate on the potential directions that live streaming for artists and creators may take. One of the most promising of these areas is the likely progression in the field of virtual reality and its integration into live streaming platforms.

Virtual Reality Integration

“Using VR for live performances can create truly unique and intimate experiences for the user. Whether it be attending a live concert or experiencing a small standup comedy event, VR can create the feeling that the viewer is attending a private event with the artist. This is particularly useful for smaller artists looking to connect to the community for an affordable price.” Virtual reality integration is really exciting for live entertainment,” says Daniel Floyd, creator of Panopticon. “It holds the possibility of bringing us much closer to the experience of live events. I think a lot of people are going to prefer the virtual version in cases where the real-world equivalent is expensive, crowded, or just too far away. The lack of inebriated strangers is another point in its favor.”

Virtual reality integration represents a concept that can revolutionize the entertainment industry. Allowing a level of immersion never before seen, the concept of virtual worlds seen in Ready Player One is getting closer and closer to reality. The application of VR for live events can allow the viewer to be fully immersed in a virtual world. Imagine watching a live concert where you are able to walk around and interact with other concert goers from around the world. This concept would allow for a level of interactivity never before seen. Even from a performance standpoint, artists can be free to create wild new experiences that can be fully realized in a virtual space without being confined to the laws of physics.

Personalized and Customizable Experiences

It is paramount that artists and creatives engage closely with companies providing these expansive services to ensure their content is suitably optimized and customized for target audiences.

With the explosion of second screens and mobile devices, many viewers are often consuming video content while surrounded by other potential sources of distraction. This is especially true for live sports, where a user may desire to watch multiple games at once or keep abreast of other events happening at the same time. The ability to deliver specific content tailored for the viewer depending on factors like device, location, or local storage constraints may help keep viewers engaged with their content and not seeking entertainment elsewhere.

The most direct impact of user demand and advanced high-speed data delivery to innovative live streaming services has been the development of personalized and customizable experiences for their users. This trend is characterized by the shift away from broadcasting a single homogeneous stream to a large audience, to the ability to give different users different video streams, with each stream optimized for the user in mind. This ranges from simple user interface features like customizing a stock or news service to the extreme end of delivering an entirely different live HLS video stream to the user through a player, based on user-specific data and content rights.

AI-powered Content Recommendations

The most productive site helps make the user perform a ideal kind of word of jaws by taking the customers’ behavior data and then offering the complete user an experience constructed particularly for them. This can be widely noted to be the easiest way to boost word of mouth, and here is where AI can play a crucial role in programming.

This is the reason word of jaws can be hijacked as the most beneficial method of creating a desirable streaming services website is to make the website ensure that it engages the user. Long-term user understanding is what they could need, not just to boost the present-day user and resell it time for the future user, but to allow them to find something worth coming back for.

An oft overlooked value of streaming services is that when a user has a wide selection of content, they frequently discover they’re overwhelmed and really end up deciding nothing in any way. This creates a major issue for internet streaming professional services because they need to retain clientele back to the support and the following best way to do this is usually to make their expertise notable.

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