Monday, May 16, 2011

LIVE STREAMING BANDS: The bumps, bruises and music of our first Register Sessions

M.T. Bearington. Photo: Chris March/New Haven Register

The idea was simple. Invite a band to the New Haven Register, let them rip, and record every blissful note.

With the help of CT Indie - we invited one of New England's best indie rock groups M.T. Bearington into the New Haven Register to play a 45 minute set last week which was free and watchable for anyone in the world with a broadband internet connection.

The New Haven Register has hosted live chats with public officials and live streamed press conferences quite regularly for a while now, but we had never done any thing like this before. So we learned some very valuable lessons, and have gathered a wealth of great feedback and ideas on how to improve and further develop this new venue for local music.

So how did we do?

  • 4 fans came to watch in person for free (source: me)
  • 212 unique viewers online (source: Ustream metrics)
  • 289 total views (source: Ustream metrics)
  • 223 views on the Register's page set up for the stream (source: Omniture)
  • 21 mentions on Twitter (source:
  • 6 shares on Facebook (source:
  • 2 likes on Facebook (source:
  • 9,304 potential views on Twitter (source: Tweetreach)
And here is the recorded version of what we broadcast live via ustream -- bruises and all:

PROBLEM: You'll notice there is no audio for most of the first song. What happened was -- we went live without testing and double testing our live feed. We had trouble getting any audio pickup from our camera once we logged into uStream. So then we plugged in a 2nd mic and got a weird reading. We thought some reading was better than no reading - so we went live out of panic of losing viewership. But even when sound does come in -- it's poor quality. And that's because we aren't pulling the sound from the band's monitors, we are picking up the sound of the room with camera microphones, and as you can see (hear?) the mics are overloaded by the rich full-band amp sound. It'd pick up an acoustic guitar okay -- but not the full-band awesomeness of M.T. Bearington.

SOLUTION: We are developing a better, more uniform equipment setup so future sets have crisp sound, and no dead air. We won't make that error again of music videos without music. Truthfully, we just went into it and pushed some buttons. We didn't have a process documented or a process to document. Now we do, and we know which easy errors we can avoid now. We will have to produce much better video and audio quality for this concept to matter. And we could just go simpler too, by sticking a camera on a musician with an acoustic guitar and let them rip through an intimate, stripped-down set. But the bottom line is our goal is to make the quality of every show better than the last.

Luckily, I did also record the full set with my FLIP cam -- and that has the full stream of audio. The camera work isn't as grand, but it works:

Watch a clip of their 2nd song from the set, "Dark Night": CT Indie

And you know what? Despite the bumps and bruises -- 212 people watched this online over the course of the 50 minutes we broadcast. We got that many viewers without a real marketing strategy. That tells me that if we do this right, people will care. And people will watch.

There is something else we learned from trying this that outweighs the bumps and bruises, however. Actually I already knew it, but this experiment confirmed it. We can do things like this.

That all said -- I'd appreciate your honest feedback on The Register Sessions. Does it matter? Does the New Haven music scene want this? Are we trying to go too big? Too small?

The way I see it - there is too much really good music coming from the New Haven music scene, and not enough ways to experience it. We just gave you one.

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