“Let me give you a kiss before you go upstairs and be a rock star.”
Those are usually the words that my husband says to me right before I take the stage for another concert. Except that the stage I usually perform on is not a tangible stage like in an auditorium or even a little area of a coffee shop set up with musical instruments and seats for patrons.
The stage where I perform is all virtual.
And it’s all right from a room in my house.
I can’t even keep track anymore of how many online concerts I have performed. It’s because of the Internet that I can even perform for people other than my husband, my cats, and the occasional real-life friend who’s interested in what this “music” thing is that I talk about. People from as far away as Tennessee, Texas, or California can watch me sing and play.
And I don’t have to leave my house to do it!
I remember the first online concert I ever watched. It was an indie singer/songwriter named Jordan Reyne, whose music I’d heard on Reverbnation, one of many sites where people can upload music and connect with other like-minded folks. The year: 2010. Already six years since then. (EEK!)
I noticed on her ReverbNation page that she’d written about doing a live online concert using a Facebook app called StreamJam. I wasn’t able to attend that one because it was during the work day. But some weeks later, she posted about doing another StreamJam show. I happened to be home sick that day. So, curious, I logged in to StreamJam watch and see what this StreamJam thing was all about.
There in the app, you created an avatar and entered what looked like a coffeehouse with a stage and chairs set up, and ahead, on the “stage,” was a live video feed of the performer. On the side was a chat box where you could talk to the other audience members and even ask the performer a private question. It was a cute little setup that was all virtual, but made you feel like you were really there in a small venue.
I was immediately intrigued by this idea of performing for virtual audiences. There she was, Jordan Reyne herself, playing live on my computer from her kitchen in Germany. And people from all over the world were there. People in the chat box were saying things like “Hello from Australia!” “New Zealand here!” Some people from England were on too.
And then there was little me, watching from my house in southeastern Virginia.
And it was all because of the Internet that we were brought together to listen to someone playing a live music show.
I knew that I had to give it a try. At that time, I’d begun writing my own music and I found it difficult to find a venue in my area where I could perform my songs. I disliked karaoke (at the time, I love it now!), I didn’t rap, I wasn’t a covers-only artist, and I didn’t scream incoherently into a microphone over bad music. I was doing electronic music.
So I was left out.
But with a virtual venue like StreamJam, I could perform anytime I wanted. I didn’t have to worry about whether my music was a fit for that venue or not. There was no booking a show with a venue, packing up the gear, and trying to make it through traffic to get there. I could perform when I wanted to perform!
I set about doing a show as soon as I could. And while those first few shows weren’t the best, since I still had major confidence issues, I realized that it was more fun than I ever thought possible. I was still getting to perform for people, so my confidence did build, but it was all for a virtual audience.
Little did I know that six years later, I would still be doing those live internet shows, but in different venues than StreamJam, which no longer exists.
When StreamJam went out, I stopped doing online concerts. I didn’t stop making music, however. I just didn’t perform it live for people.
Then when I joined Google Plus, I joined a musicians community for sharing music. I didn’t think too much of G+ at first, but then, the performer bug bit me again when the Musicians on G+ mods put together a live “open mic” Hangout on Air. Essentially, a video chat with rotating performers doing a few songs each and talking about their music.
I thought, hey, why not join in? By then, I’d been learning to play piano, so I could play an instrument and sing, making it more interactive than “hey I’m gonna press a button on this backing track and sing to it.”
That was in October 2012. And it was the first of what would become many music-related Hangouts on Air on G+. Once I performed that first time on G+, I knew I wasn’t going back!
You can even watch that first appearance below (hurray for it still being on YouTube). I started off the show, at about 1:11:
As you can see, I was a bit nervous (well, at least I think I was :P) but hey, it was my first online appearance in more than a year! (I also have a MUCH better sound setup now, but hey, again, it was my first time ever doing something with the piano, so there you go! :P)
Point is, that was just the beginning. It hasn’t even been four years since that first G+ Hangout but it feels like so much longer! Playing virtual concerts has just been a thing for me, so it’s hard to believe it hasn’t even been that long.
Goodness knows that ever since then, I haven’t looked back.
I’ve been to Numubu (eh, interface was a bit clunky and sound wasn’t that great, at least, as of almost two years ago). G+ Hangouts on Air, of course. I still pop on there for hangouts with my musician friends! I was on StreetJelly for a while, but haven’t been on there in over a year. I even did Ustream for a bit. And then there’s my current favorite, Concert Window. People can tip you, you earn money for your subscribers tuning in to your show, and the sound is impeccable. One of the best online venues I’ve found so far.
More than that, each time I go upstairs to sing and play for people, I come downstairs feeling so happy to be able to do what I love. I may not be making millions (oh I wish!) but I’m in music for the sheer love and fun of it! Yes I do have my serious songs, but I had a blast playing my mash-up of Alejandro and Fernando last night. ‘Cause if you don’t love what you’re doing, then what are you doing then? 🙂
So as long as there’s the Internet, you better believe I’ll keep doing what I love: playing online concerts. Whether I have three or twelve viewers, I’m always having fun! 😀