Home recording and livestream tips for musicians

As livestream concerts and at-home recording sessions become more and more common, I thought I would share a few tips I’ve been using to improve the quality of content I’ve created at home. During the last several months, I’ve performed livestream concerts, recorded YouTube videos, and hosted live sessions on social media. If you’re looking to do the same, here’s some advice:

  • Invest in good equipment to improve audio and video quality. To create the highest quality content, it’s important to use great equipment. Smartphones are a great place to start, but investing in external mics, cameras, and lighting will take any at-home production to the next level. If purchasing this equipment isn’t in your budget right now, see if you can borrow equipment from a colleague or friend for your project. (For what it’s worth, I use a Shure MV88 mic for clarinet, but you should do your own research to find equipment that meets your criteria and budget.)
  • Set the “stage.” If you’re making a video recording, be sure to create a clean background. Feel free to get creative with your virtual stage, and make sure that it won’t distract viewers from your performance.
  • Liven up a room. If you want a more live (resonant) sound, remove rugs, plants, pillows, or any other surfaces which can absorb sound. (Conversely, if your space is too live, you can add these to subdue the sound.)
  • Light up your space. Use overhead lights, lamps, and other light sources so the video is well-lit. You can find many inexpensive ring lights with several different settings to choose the lighting that works best for you and your project.
  • Let your family and friends know when you’re recording. One of the most difficult parts of at-home recording is making sure that you aren’t interrupted by family or friends. Try to record away from others in your home so there is no noise pollution.
  • Do several takes and don’t be in a rush. This is true whether you’re recording at home or in a professional recording studio. Maintain high standards for yourself, and don’t be afraid to redo takes until you’re happy. This might take several hours or several days, but the end result will be worth it.

If you’re doing a livestream concert:

  • Do your research. Decide which platform you want to use (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc) and make sure you know any pertinent details. For example, Instagram live only allows 60 minutes (although you can restart a live after that). Choose the platform that makes the most sense for your project.
  • Do a test run. Once you choose your platform, do a trial livestream to make sure you understand the tech requirements and process. Performing a concert is challenging enough, and you don’t want to encounter any technical issues while you’re trying to make music!
  • Interact with your audience! While you’re giving your livestream concert, be sure to ask questions, greet people by name, or keep them engaged throughout the concert.
  • Don’t forget to save the livestream recording. Make sure that you save the recording from your concert so you can revisit it later and make future livestreams even better! Some options, like Instagram live, won’t let you access these videos after the livestream ends, so make sure you don’t accidentally delete the recording of your work.
  • Ask for help from family or friends. It can be overwhelming to manage both music and tech, so see if any family members or friends are willing to help you during the process.

I hope these tips help you prepare for your next at-home recording or livestream project! What other advice has helped you prepare for your recordings or virtual concerts?

2 thoughts on “Home recording and livestream tips for musicians

  1. Using the Shure mic as an example, in your experience, what do you have to say concerning optimal placement and direction of that mic? How far away should the mic be from the clarinet? Anything else to consider?

    1. It depends on the room you’re in and a few other factors, but I usually place the Shure mic about two or three feet away from the instrument. I always do a few sound tests before I record so I can see if I need to adjust the placement. I hope this helps!

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