How to Break into Cyber Gigs

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You have the voice. You have the tools. Get ready for the live, on-line singing gig.

You’ve heard her voice in the Lord of the Rings (Theodred’s funeral scene) — or perhaps you’ve been fortunate enough to have heard her on tour.

Many of Jordan Reyne’s fans hear her play live through cyber gigs.

In this exclusive interview Jordan shares how singers can add this important new venue into their gigging lives.

You have a rich and varied singing career – but you’ve also been called a “cyber-gigger” – what is that?
Cyber gigging is the term used to describe musicians who perform online. It covers everything from web-cam based performances to performances in virtual realities, Google hangouts, and other hybrid platforms.

When did you get into this?
I’ve been playing “traditional” gigs (venues, festivals and tours), for around 15 years. It was when I was close to managing to survive from music alone that I first discovered cyber gigging. It made all the difference. When you aren’t on tour or heading to one off gigs, you can perform anytime you like with no overheads, no travel costs and a potential audience of millions. You don’t have to be physically present, just there at the end of the sound signal chain.

ReyneText01How did you get started with this kind of gig?

I was performing through Europe and visited a friend in Hamburg after a show. She dragged me over to her computer screen to where these CGI looking characters were crowded around an avatar with a guitar. “Watch this,” she said, and began singing into the mic. All the avatars on the screen started cheering and saying things in the chat. She explained they were logged on and hearing her from all over the world. It seemed bizarre yet wonderful, so I asked her how to do it. It was Second Life – one of the most popular VRs with a very big music scene and community.

What kind of equipment is involved?
Any other musician out there will be happy to know: probably only the things you already have lying about: an audio interface card, your instrument, and optionally a webcam. If you play in VRs you don’t need the cam but you will need some free streaming software called “butt” which is very easy to use.

One online vendor gives the option of “tip jar” or “pay for view” – what do you use and why?
Pay per view tends to be the model of choice for people attempting to transpose offline / traditional models into the online world. You really have to know your listeners to know if it actually fits.

Good point – tell us about the audience and their preferences.

Playing online your listeners comes from one of two places: they are either part of the existing community you’ve built around your music, or they are people who might be what I call “a floating audience” (people who regularly use the site you are playing in). Given that one of the main income streams in online playing is album sales, you want as few barriers to being “found” by floating audiences as possible. People are prepared to listen to an artist they haven’t heard before if it is free, and then they can decide if they’d like to pay or not.

Insert copyWhat do you do?
I use the tip system combined with posting links to music, books, and some of the other content I produce. My regular listeners tip, and the floating audience often decide they like what I do and buy the album.

The all-important thing (next to having great music!) is to attract your fans to the cyber venue. How do you do that?
It depends on the venue. If you are in a VR “venue” is the right word. If you are doing webcam based broadcasts, it’s more about attracting them to a website as the websites aren’t really analogous to venues.

How do you get your audience to join you on-line?

You simply let them know (via your group in VRs or via social networking and newsletters for he webcam based places). Unlike traditional gigging too, it is actually a bonus if you don’t fit into a category and are doing something different and personal.

So, being different is critical for these on-line performances?
Online, people hunger for the music they can’t find in the world of traditional gigs. I use loopers and a lot of found sound (eg machine noise from factories) along with Grimms Fairytale-esque lyrics —something it has taken me years to convince conventional bookers to even try out ‘cause of its cross-genre nature. Unfortunately, there is a lot to the marketing side though that is specific to online communities. It occupies several chapters in my book on cyber performance so it’s probably too long to cover succinctly here!

ReyneText02Do you have a cyber-platform that you’d recommend to our singing community?
Numubu is my favorite Webcam based platform and Second Life is my favorite VR. Many of the webcam based platforms fall over because they don’t get that commuity is what drives the music scene in online performance. Numubu is truly unique in providing that along with an incredibly freindly and personal approach you don’t find elsewhere.

Any other tips or tricks for singers to get going on this new kind of gig?

. The real key is integrating it into your everyday practices as a musician. It’s not a “tack on if you have time” thing. It all centres around building community, and to do that you have to be very present. It’s one of the most rewarding experiences of being a musician. Once the wall of tech fear is overcome and dealt with, it is something to look forward to and something that will mean you have listeners and new friends all over the planet.

ReyneProfileJordan Reyne has been hailed by Radio New Zealand as the author of a new sound and has 3 Tui Award (NZ Grammy) nominations. Her voice is featured on tracks by Cafe Del Mar and a funeral scene on Lord of the Rings. She has produced 7 albums of her own music. See www.jordanreyne.com

NuMuBu – short for New Music Business – combines industry-specific social networking with live streaming and is dedicated to the creation of new a music business that can actually provide revenue for its indie artists and professionals. It’s free to join: www.numubu.com


  • DH

    I feel like I just learned something to add to my brand.