• Philip Marsden

How Indie Artists Can Use Live Streaming

The music industry is due a very strange and unsettling few months with COVID-19 causing gig cancellations for artists big and small. This is of course a huge knock for the entire music business, but especially for the independent artists who’s gigs are their bread and butter. Whether you’re just trying to fund more recording, or you’re relying on those paycheques to cover your next month’s rent, this virus will affect your music over the coming weeks. However, it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom.

On Saturday night, US hardcore outfit, Code Orange were due to play their much anticipated album release show, but after it was cancelled due to the virus, they took to Twitch to show off their new music and celebrate the release with fans. In an empty venue, with tons of visuals, the band played through the entire set they had planned, streaming all of it live to 12,000 people. They even used the opportunity to sell exclusive merch that had been made for the night. More recently, Christine and the Queens as well as Yungblud have done the same. Live streaming is nothing new in the world of music; tons of artists are using it every single day to build their following, but if gigging opportunities are going to be lost, it could become more important than ever.

If your upcoming gigs have been called off, you should give a try. Here are some reasons why and some tips to get you started:

Twitch isn’t very saturated

There are lots of ways to host a live stream, but Twitch is by far the most popular. However, music on Twitch hasn’t fully taken off yet. You can still get discovered in the category listing if you pick up enough streams. It’s a fast growing platform and if you get in there now, you can make the most of it.

It makes engagement easy

Twitch, and other live streaming mediums, make engaging with your followers easier than ever. They can ask you questions, request songs and most importantly, just have a chat with you. There’s a real sense of community around live streaming and it presents a great opportunity to build a genuinely dedicated fanbase.

You can monetise every live streaming session

On Twitch, viewers can leave you tips, which could earn them unique emojis to use in the chat, could send their song request to the top of the list and gives them a sense of personal gratification when you thank them live on the stream. Further to this, you could point your viewers towards exclusive merch for sale on your website, just like you would at a real gig.

Do some covers

As you probably know from gigging in the real world, people love hearing songs they know. Slide some covers in with your original material and consider taking requests for them. This is a great way to engage new listeners.

Let your personality shine through

People probably won’t want to watch you rattle through as many songs as you can in half an hour without talking. Take time between each song to answer questions, ask questions and have a chit-chat with your viewers. The more personable you are, the more they will form a connection with you.

Set a regular schedule for your streams

If you’re going to host a live stream, make sure your fans know about it. Promote it on your social media with the time and link easy to see. Consistency is key. If you can make it regular (say, once a week) you will soon build some momentum.

Keep going when this all blows over.

This may all seem new at the moment and like a bit of bodge-job replacement for your gigging schedule, but I’m confident that it will be the norm in the world of independent music in the not so distant future and just as important as gigging locally. Live streaming is an incredible tool to have right at our finger-tips, so keep making the most of it.


You probably have some time on your hands at the moment. If you’d like some creative support on your project, send it my way for a production critique or mix critique here.