Courtesy of The Recording Academy on Facebook
Remote (Controlled): The Recording Academy’s Guide To Making Your Livestreams Look And Sound Good
If you’ve been following the Recording Academy Producers and Engineers Wing’s dynamic new virtual webinar series, Remote (Controlled), you now have a solid foundation as to how to record music at home and work remotely with a producer and engineer. (And if you’re new to the series, be sure to catch up before you continue!) With those two videos under your belt, now you’re ready to share a livestream performance that looks and sounds fantastic—not a tinny, blurry nightmare from your bathtub or dining room table.
For this third and final episode of Remote (Controlled), the P&E Wing pulled out all the stops, congregating musicians, engineers and technologists to help viewers navigate complicated software and make clean, classy, camera-toggling videos to remember.
After a brief introduction from P&E Wing Senior Managing Director Maureen Droney, the clip begins in earnest with a sobering juxtaposition that illustrates our changing musical landscape. A nest of onstage cables gives way to devices now familiar to anyone making online audio content: a condenser mic, an Mbox, a ring light. Then, Greg Carter of Black Fret—an Austin-based membership-based community of art patrons that provides grants for artists—explains how the Zoom-based musical landscape has improved since the pandemic began.
With improved technology often comes a hit to the wallet, though. You might be wondering: Doesn’t livestreaming require a litany of fancy tech upgrades? Not necessarily, as the video’s participants point out—and the first software you should reach for is free and open-source.
OBS Studio lets you stream easily on Windows, Mac and Linux. And to guide you through the learning curve, a tutorial for the software appears in this video. Chris Shaw, the committee co-chair of the Texas Chapter of the P&E Wing, is your guide through this process.
But how does livestreaming work when you’re a band, not a solo artist? Meet David and Joseph Dunwell, the guitarist/vocalist and lead singer of English pop-rock outfit The Dunwells. The brothers recall how they had to act quickly and decisively when COVID hit, grabbing equipment from their studio and setting up a livestream directly to their Facebook page. Then, their evolution accelerated when they discovered StreamYard, which allows for cross-platform streaming.
Afterward, StreamYard’s Head of Marketing Dana Bentz joins a conversation with Shaw and singer/songwriter and Texas Chapter P&E Wing committee co-chair Lisa Morales. The video concludes with a demo from Austin musician Roger Blevins about making those grid-based, "Hollywood Squares"-style, one-man-band videos for a compelling visual experience. As he underlines, you don’t need a $4,000 computer or a cutting-edge smartphone—you just need time, persistence and imagination to make a superb livestream that sticks out from the rest.
Check out the third episode of Remote (Controlled) above and read a list of the equipment mentioned below.
Used by Joe Barrelas McGonigel’s Mucky Duck (venue):
iPad, iPhones, Macbook Pro
Ida PTZ cameras
Midas PRO1 house sound and monitors (matrix out for streaming)
Used by Chris Shaw (OBS Demo)
Webcam: Logitech C920
Microphone: AKG 414 UBS
Interface: Behringer UMC204HD
Used by The Dunwells:
Behringer UMC22 interface, Beringer UMC404HD interface
AKG studio K240 studio headphones Rode NT1 mic
AKG 214 mic
Surface Go laptop
Macbook Pro laptop
Used by Roger Blevins:
Hardware: Mac MIni, UA Apollo interfaces, Canon M50, Canon T2i, Canon T5i, USB 3.0 HDMI capture card, pedal webcams, MIDI pedal
Software: Ecamm Live, Logic, Loopback, UA Midi Control, MidiPipe
Used by Jon Muq:
Options for Streaming:
Zoom, StreamYard, YouTube, Blackmagic, Restream
Streaming Set Up Requirements
1. Bandwidth is the most important thing you need to have good audio and video quality. Plug an ethernet cable from your internet router to your laptop/desktop or perform as close to the wifi router as possible. Ask everyone to stay off the internet during your shows.
2. Video quality Built-in laptop cameras don’t have great resolution. Use a USB HD webcam or phone as it will give much better video quality. Good lighting is important.
3. Configure Audio Settings on Zoom Turn off original sound, choose the input device you are using, suppress background noise to "low," leave echo cancellation on "auto" and select "high fidelity music mode."
4. Backing tracks Use two laptops for best results (see link below for more best practices).
For detailed Zoom instructions, click here.