Project Description

March 27, 2020 | By Stephanie Powers

Live Streaming During Quarantine

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The Hummingbirds

Live streaming concerts are saving the sanity of many music lovers and anyone who wants something besides Netflix comfort while staying at home during this Coronavirus crisis. Even Sir Elton John recently announced an online concert with a superstar line up including Alicia Keys and Billie Eilish.

Tampa Bay area bands are also using technology to entertain and hopefully recoup some of the losses during “Safer at Home” times.

Since bars and restaurants are closed for dining-in customers, the booked entertainment is out. Bans on large gatherings of any sort means musicians have no live audience. 

Bay Area band The Hummingbirds usually have up to 25 performances a month — 15 were cancelled in March because of the Coronavirus. 

“For the month of April we have another 22 shows that will be cancelled if venues remain closed,” Rachel Lynn of the band said in a recent email chat with the Arts Coast Journal.

Lynn and her husband S.G. Wood started the band in their hometown of Detroit but have been a staple in the local music scene since their move to Tampa.

They’ve performed at the Gasparilla Music Festival, and can be seen at many local breweries and venues weekly.

“In addition, S.G. also performs music at various assisted living facilities in Hillsborough County,” Lynn adds. Those visits have been cancelled as well.

So on Saturday, March 28, Lynn is doing a solo Facebook Live show. In the next week, The Hummingbirds are streaming benefit performances for the staff of two of their regular venues  Stirling Wine and Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe in Seminole Heights.

Live-streaming for shows doesn’t seem too complicated.

“We are recording from the camera on our phone and sometimes we also use a few stage lights we have had around for years, usually used at our live in-person shows,” Lynn said. “We set up a tripod and a light or two in our living room and hit record!”

Tampa Sessions broadcasting the band Anthill Cinema online, pre-Coronavirus

There are websites and Facegroup groups dedicated to getting the word out and organizing a list of livestreams.

Almost two years before Covid-19 hit, freelance sound recordist Joseph Giannotti created Tampa Sessions.

“A multi-camera live broadcasted ongoing music series where bands and musicians can communicate in real time with viewers through a large chat monitor in the room — this all takes place in my garage at home,” Giannotti described.

Of course, no one is currently going to a performance space so he modified and adapted his site.

“(We) are welcoming any musicians to call in remotely and play a set to the Tampa Sessions audience,” Giannotti explained, “The first night we did this we had a musician in Italy join and it was really special getting to hear his story and his music from across the world.”

Tampa Sessions currently shares up to 10 live streaming performances a day. Home setups should be pretty easy for most. 

“If you’re a musician and you’ve already got a basic home recording setup then you’re already 95% there,” says Giannotti. 

The free Open Broadcaster Software will be helpful for getting your music online, but even the less technologically advanced can get out there.

“If all you’ve got is a cell phone with service you can go live directly to Facebook with nothing else,” he adds.

Giannotti also encourages any musician to contact him if they are having a hard time getting up to par. He tells musicians to share their electronic payment information when they’re streaming, so audiences can contribute.

“The best way to help is to donate directly to musicians through their Venmo/PayPal/CashApp links that they are posting in the description of their live streams,” Giannotti says.

It is during times like these when the word community really gets its legs.

“The community can support all artists by sharing live online events, attending the live-stream concerts, liking and commenting on artist pages to offer encouragement, and contributing financially if able,” Rachel Lynn says.

Even if you don’t have the funds to donate, the music will be available to enjoy.

“Like us, many artists simply enjoy offering live music to anyone who wants it — as a way to unwind and take a mental break from all that is going on with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lynn adds.

Explore the music of The Hummingbirds at thehummingbirds.com

Find out more about Tampa Sessions’ interactive online concerts at tampasessions.com