Facebook Live for Music Improv


I had put off playing in the Facebook Live/Periscope space with Broadway's Next Hit Musical for nearly a year. I had so many worries about it: what if the cast isn't into it? how will the sound work? what if no one watches it? 

I'm happy to say that I finally faced my fears last night and everyone involved thought we had a great night. So here is what worked for us and how we'll adjust for next time.

Sound Concerns

The worst thing is having bad sound for musical improv. You don't want the piano to drown out the singers and the whole sound to be distorted. Truthfully, I'm not sure we succeeded completely. But here's what I found.

I watched this video and BNHM actually had all of the gear mentioned in it. It seemed a little complicated, though. So I talked it over with Rob (my audio specialist improviser husband) and we worked out a way to streamline it.

*Tip* You can check your audio by setting up a Live stream and adjusting the settings to "Only Me." This way, you can test out your audio without the world knowing.

For some reason, though, the audio set up didn't work. So we dampened the piano, checked the audio with the phone and it was good enough that we could be heard. So, for the next go 'round I'll be fine tuning more. But, people could hear the lyrics and the piano and it was all good.

Keep It Loose, Engage, Have Fun

Broadway's Next Hit Musical is a very polished show, especially by improv standards. The cast wears formalwear in the first act, there's a very clear structure to the show, we add lots of production value when we can. But with the live event I was looking to let some of that go a bit so the audience could see us in a more playful rehearsal atmosphere. Also, while hosting I brought up each actor and played around with them more than a host in the actual show would do. 

But the most fun of improv with Facebook Live is how the audience around the country could see us improvising right then and there. I know we had someone from Washington, Michigan, and Connecticut all checking it out at once. I could ask for a suggestion, they could see the cast create it right on the spot. 

Towards the end of the Facebook Live event I moved the camera more around the room. This was also just more playful and fun for people to see our little rehearsal room and what we were doing in it. The next time, I'll do that even more.

Call to Action

Finally, don't forget your calls to action. Remember that people are coming in and out of the broadcast, so you want to keep highlighting what you want them to do. We have shows in NYC and throughout the country so I mentioned those a bunch and specifically how they could get tickets. I forgot to do this and a friend texted a cast member during the show to remind me. I've listed a few other tips that I don't want to forget for next time:

  • turn the ringer on your phone off
  • bring a power strip and a charger for your phone
  • have someone else work the camera and the comments so you are free to be on camera (if that's what you're doing)
  • have other people in the room log into your other social media accounts and capture the behind-the-scenes action (we had someone doing Snapchat, someone else doing Instagram Live)

Your Turn

What's worked for you with doing Facebook Live (or Instagram or Periscope or whatevs) with your music improv group? Let me know via Twitter @annieschiff