As a member of the Vocal Jazz/Liturgical ensemble in high school, we were all REQUIRED to help with tear down/set up of the stage area before and after EVERY single event. Seriously, preparing for a gig regardless of its local; high school, auditorium, concert hall, home or seedy bar has a significant amount of organizational tasks to be finished prior to a performance. All of the equipment has to staged properly to ensure instruments are easily accessed, it can be quite the laborious task. Fortunately, our entire group participated in both these banal processes, which makes me appreciate the monotony of tear down/set up even more as it relates to independent artists.
Let’s take a look, for example at, what an individual singer or band (depending on size) requires for simply a few sets that may take a couple of hours. Guitars (acoustic, electric, bass), full drum kit including breakables, extra wires, pedals, microphones, strings, pa systems, amps, monitors, lighting depending on venue, not to mention the other bits and bobs such as; extra guitar pics, drum sticks, batteries for wireless equipment are required to render a glorious experience for the audience.
Now, please imagine an independent artist who do not have a significant amount of funding for the luxury of being able to hire someone to transport their gear like a roadie or a drum technician. For these entertainers, the majority of the time friends and family may generously volunteer to be of assistance even though the; lifting, moving, tuning and organizing is facilitated by the musicians themselves. Multiply that by 2 or 3 gigs per week, a significant amount of back and forth to bring your original music to the masses. Furthermore, the funds earned for a performance do not even cover the cost of that bottle of; Tylenol, Advil or Aleve to ease the aches of a sore body let alone the cost in time for pre and post show foundations let alone hiring someone to assist with all the transport and/or the heavy lifting. The majority of the grunt work obviously falls in the hands of the artisan whose immortal essence fuels the passion to pursue their labour of life choice out of necessity.
Having live events via Skype/Google Hangout provides the artists with an opportunity and means by which they are able to perform from the same location to potentially different audience members. The negative, however, falls on the number of those attending -- limited to 10 to be able to sustain outstanding online quality without polluting the clarity and sound of the Skype/Google Hangout.
One of the main benefits of a Skype/Google Hangout is that it offers the musician’s equipment to be stored in one consistently organized space. As long that space has a strong internet connection, it would be able to provide as many performances as their voice or instruments could handle -- also since Skype/Google Hangout only offers a maximum of 10 simultaneous video calls it limits the number of spectators as previously mentioned – as our current web infrastructure may not be able to house more. I can see the benefit in this for sure for a random individual who has a strong internet connection but lives off the grid or in a remote part of the world.
To be honest, anything that can foster lucrative growth of unique music while bringing it to the masses I am in complete support of. Pertaining to insurance for instruments – if all of the tools and instruments are located in one place the artist does not have to worry as much about their equipment being damaged or stolen whilst being taken out of venues as opposed to being at a static location.
Any place on this vast globe: quirky, plain or immensely exquisite has the potential to be a venue, which can range from an intimate party to a concert hall or stadium. Through my minds eye, I am beginning to imagine what it would be like for independent music artists to have to cart their equipment from place-to-place-right-side-up-and-upside-in.
The bottom line really is that I could argue both sides of the pro and con of Skype/Google Hangout gigs. The long of the short of it is that it really is at the discretion of the performer and what they want to be able to achieve through their methodology behind sharing their music. Seems a real waste though, if we do not harness the power of not only social media but the intensity of the World Wide Web to benefit these musicians. If you will, take the World Wide Web, one large entity full of information covering a variety of topics, including all of these exceptional creatures that are trying to get their melodies heard. The myriad of social media outlets similar to Skype/Google Hangout encourage the potential for indie’s to go viral beyond their wildest daydreams.
Communicating and performing to ones patrons directly, no matter how small a number should be what the experience is all about. Being able to connect directly with another human being on an exceptionally profound level, to look directly in their eyes and see the exquisite cosmetic hues while never missing a single facial expression. All of that emotion, through our optics makes a difference as to how we as a race share our intense desire with each other.
I understand that indie artists might eventually desire to sell tickets for a show in a large stadium however, it is at the discretion of the artist, how they want to convey their work, to the masses. This option affords humanity a new perspective on the details of where a musical event should or could take place. Because music is a form of artistic impression one must be open to the various suggestions as to how musicians want to contribute their talents to our tremendous humanity.
This article was written by Rania M M Watts - you can also read here personal blog here!