Recent changes in Facebook's algorithm have sent musicians and music marketers scrambling for new ways to grab the attention of the social network's massive audience. The jury is still out on most tactics, but one thing is certain: Facebook ranks and delvers more eyeballs to live video.
By Dave Kusek, founder of the New Artist Model
You’ve no doubt seen that little “Live” button on Facebook. Maybe you’ve even joined a Facebook Live video or seen other bands using Facebook Live. Right now, live video (on any platform) is one of the most powerful tools available to you and it presents an incredible and unprecedented opportunity to connect with your audience, create some great content they will love, and even make good income. In other words, live videos are a promote your music powerhouse that will let you grow your fanbase and connect with your fans on a whole new level.
Of course, live videos are just one piece of the social media world. If you want ideas of what to post on social media day to day, check out our free How to Promote Your Music ebook. It includes 3 social media checklists with a TON of post ideas that you can use to promote your music and engage with your fans. Click here to download it for free.
Why Use Facebook Live?
It can feel like new social media features are popping up every other day, so why should you dedicate time to Facebook Live?
As you probably know, Facebook uses an algorithm to determine what shows up in everyone’s newsfeeds. And those algorithms make it notoriously difficult to get posts on your artist or band page noticed. But right now, Facebook is giving live videos a lot of priority. In other words, Facebook live videos are more likely to show up in your fans’ and followers’ newsfeeds. And we could all use a little more exposure for our music :)
Facebook Live videos > Uploaded videos > Shared YouTube videos
As far as video content goes, Facebook Live videos get priority over videos uploaded onto the platform, and uploaded videos get priority over YouTube videos. And in most cases, video content in general will get more engagement than text or image posts. That means live videos are at the top of the engagement pyramid.
There are a ton of reports out there pointing to the higher engagement and audience retention rate of live videos as well. Typically, Facebook live videos have a higher average watch time than uploaded videos and they get three times the engagement.
And finally, any kind of live video lets you engage and connect with your audience and fanbase on a deeper level. While a lot of social media channels can still feel pretty impersonal, in a Facebook Live you’re talking directly to your fans and responding to them individually by name (more on that later), and that is an incredible opportunity.
How to Use Facebook Live: What You Need
There’s not many prerequisites for doing awesome Facebook Lives. A phone and a good internet connection is about all it takes. But there are a few things you may want to add on to your live set up to up the quality.
- Especially for musicians, audio quality is really important. So it may be worth your while to invest in an external mic for your phone. This doesn’t have to be anything crazy high-end, but the little boost in audio quality will only make your performances better.
- There’s nothing worse than your phone falling over in the middle of the best part of the song you’re playing… So a phone tripod or mount is another fairly inexpensive way to up the quality of your Facebook Live. You can get decent tripods or mounts for less than twenty bucks on Amazon, so there’s no real excuse for shaky video.
- And finally you need a space that has decent lighting and a quiet, distraction-free environment. Any old well-lit room will probably serve your purpose, but you can also find inexpensive lights online if you feel like your space isn’t up to your standards.
Once you have that, all you need to do is go into Facebook and choose the “Live Video” option. From there you’ll be able to set your privacy settings and create a post description. This will show up in your fans newsfeeds so tell them what’s going on and why it’s gonna be awesome. Press the “Go Live” button and your fans will start coming in!
Live Video Ideas Your Fans Will Love
There’s a lot you can do with a live platform, so let’s go through a few ideas. With anything, your best bet is to try out a few things and gauge your fans’ reaction. What kind of lives do they get really excited about? Which lives get the highest attendance? Which get the most engagement?
You can find all of this in your Facebook analytics. To access them, just click on your “Insights” tab. There you’ll be able to see all kinds of stats that will help you make decisions about your live videos. Pay close attention to the “Average watch time.” Ultimately you want your fans to stick around on your lives as long as possible, so experiment and see what you can do to get this number up. You should also look at “Peak live viewers.” If you click through you’ll be able to see how many people were watching at what time. Pay close attention to any large drop offs and try to improve to keep people watching.
Okay, now onto the live ideas!
One of the most natural options for musicians is to simply do intimate performances with just you, your instrument, and your phone. This is a great option for singer-songwriters, but it can work for bands as well - take turns giving each member a chance to do a solo live.
The key to these small performances is to go back and forth between performing and chatting with your fans. This direct engagement is what will keep them hanging around and what elevates a live video from a YouTube video.
Band Jam or Practice
Next, you can turn your band’s jams or rehearsals into a Facebook live video. This gives fans a little look into what goes on behind the scenes in band life. Plus it doesn’t take much effort on your part - you’re already rehearsing, so why not just set up a phone and stream it? These are a little less personal than the one-on-one concerts we talked about earlier, but you can still take breaks and chat with your fans from time to time.
This is probably the least personable option. I’d recommend only streaming gigs from time to time - you want fans to actually come out to gigs, not just watch them on their phones, right? With these lives, its best to recruit a friend to be your live camera-man instead of just setting your phone up on a tripod. This can make the experience more engaging and interactive.
If you have a really important announcement that you want your fans to know about, make the announcement in a live video to take advantage of the priority they get in Facebook’s algorithm! This way, you can be sure more fans actually see the post. As a bonus, give your live viewers early access or a special discount.
The music is great, but it’s important to connect with your fans on a human level as well, so try putting down the instrument and just chatting with your fans. Let your audience submit questions beforehand and take some questions live as well. Some bands will get in a schedule where they do a Q&A ever month so fans know what to expect.
Another cool idea is to take your fans behind the scenes with live videos. Maybe bring them live into the studio, or backstage as you prepare for a gig. Talk them through what you’re doing, tell them a funny story that just happened, show them something cool behind the scenes, or give them a sneak peek at something you’re working on.
Facebook Live for Musicians: Best Practices
Okay, now that you have some ideas for live videos, let’s talk about some best practices. These are just some tips that will help you maximize your live videos and get better watch rate, engagement, and even make some money.
If you really want your live videos to be successful, you need to give yourself a schedule and show up. Whether you go live once a week or every single day, make a schedule and stick with it.
Why? If you go live intermittently, you’re just hoping your fans are online when you hit that live button. But if fans know that you go live every Thursday night at 7PM, they might plan to be on Facebook just to catch your stream.
To start, use your analytics to see when your fans are online. What days of the week are your fans most active? What time of day? This is going to be different for every audience.
You could even give your live sessions themes. Like “Songwriting Sunday” where you hang out and play around with song ideas and write little ideas live. Or “Throwback Thursday” where you cover a bunch of older tunes that have inspired you.
Use a Tip Jar
There are musicians who are actually making a decent amount of money from Facebook Lives. All you need to do is set up some kind of “tip jar” (PayPal is an easy option) and link to it from the description of your live video and in the comments.
Next, set up a notification or have your computer right there so you can see the donations coming in and thank your fans personally by name. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but this little bit of personal gratitude can go a long way and show your fans that you really do appreciate their support. You see this all the time on Twitch, and it’s really easy to implement on Facebook as well.
There are lots of other ways you can use Facebook Live videos to drive more music, merch, and ticket sales. Check out this article to see a more in-depth guide on using Facebook Live to make more money from music.
Build a Relationship
A good Facebook Live is not just about entertainment or putting on a good performance. You need to use lives as a chance to build a relationship with your fans.
Relate to your fans, get to know them, and answer their questions. Respond to them and use their name. Talk to them and with them, not at them. You want it to feel like you’re all hanging out on a Friday night together.
Over time, you’ll even get to know some of the regulars who show up all the time. Greet them by name and follow up on a conversation you had in a previous live. Remember, live videos are a rare opportunity to get an *actual* two-way conversation going with your fans, so take advantage of that and be real.
Promote Your Live Sessions
You’ll get the highest attendance if your fans know a live is coming, so post at least once announcing your upcoming live. You can even do a little cross promotion on other platforms like Instagram and Twitter so fans can follow you on Facebook and be ready when you go live. While Facebook does save live videos so fans can watch them after the fact, you’re going to get more audience retention live.
Facebook Live broadcasts are 90 minutes in length. While you don’t have to stay on for the full 90 minutes, you should try to make your live sessions at least 10 minutes. Facebook staggers notifications so you want to give it enough time to notify all your fans that you’re live.
As with any kind of Facebook post, more engagement will always equal a greater reach, which in turn helps you get more fans on Facebook. So encourage your viewers to like, comment, and even share the live video throughout the broadcast. Try asking direct questions to get fans commenting. And something as simple as saying “Like if you agree,” can help boost the engagement.