We are in strange times, there’s no denying it. While we’re all craving the in-person live show atmosphere that we so easily took for granted just a year ago, a new kind of show has taken over: virtual live shows. And while at first glance, this might seem like an impossible replica—after all, how do you re-create the energy, the feeling, the overall vibe and aesthetics of a live show online— it turns out, when done well, virtual shows can be a pretty impressive stand in for the real thing—not to mention, in some ways, they can actually be even better when it comes to long term connection and entertainment with your fans.
I mean, there’s something so much more intimate about them isn’t there? You can talk directly to people, they’re getting to see you in your home or practice space rather than a venue that doesn’t speak to you and your tastes. It’s an opportunity in really building a unique bond—when done right.
Here’s how to make your next virtual show memorable.
Create a visual wonderland
Just because it’s a virtual show doesn’t mean you have to perform in your poorly lit living room with all your dirty dishes in the background. People are showing up for an experience and that experience is not to feel like they wandered into someone’s apartment unannounced. While I believe there’s a level of charm and intimacy that comes from performances like that described above, I would leave those for IG Stories and IG live versus a full blown show that you’re putting on and charging people for.
If you’re doing a release show or just want to get out and play some old tunes for your fans, you still need to make this an unforgettable experience and that starts with paying attention to, and providing something for people’s senses.
For instance, what can you do to liven up your background? If you have a basement, garage, or practice space you can set up in even better but, no matter the space you have you can make it work. Maybe it’s just hanging up colored lights, maybe it’s a few props, maybe you have a banner in the background. Spend some time thinking about how you can create a visually appealing and atmospheric background. Ideally, it’ll match your brand or the theme of your album, sound, aesthetic. Etc.
If you need some inspiration check out what The Front Bottoms have been doing in their live streams, or how Tokyo Police Club dressed up an gallery for a 12-hour videos shoot of their song “PCH”.
While you’re at it, double check your sound. How is your mic? Is the sound coming through ok? Don’t skimp here—you wouldn’t at an in person show, and you shouldn’t here either.
Host a VIP experience for 5 lucky fans
There’s no reason you can’t give your fans the VIP treatment from afar. Use your creativity here to brainstorm fun ways to incorporate the VIP experience, but a few ideas could be:
-Letting them “in” 30 min early for a VIP hang
-Letting them “in” a couple hours early to see the band’s sound check/practice
-Special merch bundle that only they get (bonus if it includes old or rare merch or something handmade from you. Since it’s a small group you can totally pull this off)
-Anything unique to you and your brand that will light up their day like a custom birthday/anniversary/etc song, a 30 min music lesson with you, virtual pizza party, etc
The idea is to show them how special they are and thank them for being your #1 fans, while giving them something to look forward to and reminisce about.
Don’t forget the interaction!
VIP or not, there’s an interactive element to in person shows that make for a memorable experience and this should absolutely be something you incorporate into your virtual shows. This can be everything from inviting fans “on stage” to sing with you or play their instrument alongside you for one of the songs (Arkells do this well—see how they bring their fan up for one of the simpler parts of the song and then quickly show them what to do?) or making sure to take breaks between songs to ask the audience different questions or share stories as you would in person, or inviting them on camera to share their own stories/thoughts/etc. There’s no reason this show can’t be as much of a hang with your fans as it is a memorable live performance.
While we all miss in-person shows and I for one can’t wait to see them return, there’s something kind of special about virtual shows, and when done right, they can actually be an even more beautiful opportunity to build stronger connections with your fans, and really leave a lasting impression.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placements on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, Spotify and more. You can learn more about how to get more fans + make more money with your music in her workshop.