Why You Need To Expand Video Beyond Facebook and YouTube

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It’s hard to believe, but it has only been just over a year since Facebook rolled out its Live feature to all its users. YouTube Live saw an earlier release as a beta platform in 2011, which eventually rolled out en-masse not to soon after. Obviously, on-demand video has been a long-standing feature on both platforms, and one used by countless businesses, brands, and organizations to share their video content. But these platforms, while innovative and perhaps most important to many—free, come with many pitfalls that can’t measure up to the video streaming powerhouses that so many organizations pay for.

Free only gets one so far when one considers the potential video advertising revenue from independent platforms compared to the ad revenue Facebook and YouTube monopolize on. Facebook doesn’t support monetization for the user at all, nor does it support security restrictions such as a paywall, simultaneous streams, digital rights management, or analytics. Live videos are limited to 90 minutes, there is zero technical support, and streams are not optimized for higher quality output or large screens, quality being the most important factor for 67% of viewers watching a live broadcast. Content on Facebook is also not indexable. Search engines like Google don’t ever find Facebook posts, including live and archived videos, which is a fatal drawback when it comes to SEO.

YouTube also has fatal flaws, but to a lesser degree. While it supports some level of security restrictions, analytics, and ad revenue, functionality is limited. Customization and branding is also limited. The revenue through AdWords is dismal unless one has millions of viewers or subscribers. Even popular broadcasters struggle to grow ad revenue, and even then, the uploader has zero control over which ads are displayed pre-roll. They can include spammy or offensive content, which reflects poorly on one’s brand. Embedding functionality is poor, there is no technical support, and users must give up distribution rights to their own content.

Clearly, relying on YouTube or Facebook alone to publish and distribute video content can reflect poorly on a brand’s image and, more pressingly, its bank account. Instead of remaining exclusive to platforms that take your hard work and do little in return—like in any bad relationship—you’re better off looking elsewhere. Consider how ad revenue works: user data which is generated from your content is used by ad buyers to pay for spots on your videos. With these platforms, data is collected by them via your video content and sold to buyers at little or no return to you. One can see how the video uploader ends up with light pockets and on the losing end.

Pockets aside, free platforms on which users lack control over ads and other content like spam, offensive content, and negative social engagement can seriously hurt a brand’s image, which can hurt business. Think of your videos as value content. Knowingly or unknowingly, you wouldn’t want to diminish the value of something by putting it into the wrong hands, which can set it down next to questionable content. On dedicated streaming platforms, ad content as well as everything in and around your video is in your hands. This includes design features that maintain brand equity.

6 Tips on Video Broadcasting from Your Phone

Back in the day, equipment for producing high quality video would have cost you a pretty penny. Equipment that weighed hundreds of pounds cost thousands of dollars. But it’s 2017, and you possess the power to produce and broadcast a feature film at the palm of your hands if you so wish—you can also just live stream your pet doing something cute and hope it goes viral. Mobile phone broadcasting isn’t new or necessarily even exciting news. Consider the news itself. Reporters using their phones live shutterstock_450162028on the scene to broadcast to an audience watching online is pretty common. Any internet-enabled, H.264 compatible mobile device with a camera can broadcast video, but some ways of doing it can produce a better end result than others.

Prep

Some phones (ahem, particularly mine) are notoriously bad in regards to battery life. Do you have enough juice? Did all those mirror selfies use up your storage space? Are all your dating apps running in the background and eating up CPU and otherwise slowing down your processor? These factors are imperative to ensuring that you have a smooth broadcast. Close open apps and charge up. Obviously, there are certain features you might want to consider first in the kind of mobile phone you choose to use for recording, like camera quality.

Rock steady, ready

There is a lot of equipment out there which can make your broadcast look professionally done. Tripods, and stabilizers, for example, will eliminate shakiness by keeping your device completely still as you shoot. You can, however, just try resting the phone in question on an even, stable surface such as a stack of books or a bookend. Basically, shooting in a library would be ideal for still shots, but if you have late fees on your library card from ten years ago, anything steady and level which can support your phone will do. The possibilities are endless, so be a real director and don’t be afraid to get creative with your shots. At the same time, if it’s within your budget, a few accessories might make sense if you’re not spending on big dough on big clunky cameras and hardware encoders.

Lighting

Another quality control aspect to watch out for is lighting. Assessing and correcting lighting on a mobile phone can be iffy, indoors and out. If possible, aim for natural light. Be aware of the lighting conditions where you plan to shoot, and position your subjects and yourself so that shadows aren’t getting in the way. Ideally, your phone’s camera should have a touch focus feature so that your lens automatically centers on what you choose.

Orientation

While we should be accepting of all orientations in other contexts, avoid vertical video at all costs. Not only can portrait orientation be inaccessible to some screens, it is just plain annoying to watch on the majority of social media platforms, where the sharing happens. Bottom line: just shoot in landscape mode. Oh, and don’t zoom—move closer to the subject to get a close-up. Utilizing your phone camera’s zoom feature sacrifices quality. It just looks bad.

Can you hear me now? Good

Unless you’re shooting in the style of The Artist and have a cute enough jack shepherd to excuse it, you shouldn’t generally expect people to stick around for a video with poor audio quality. But there’s a quick fix for that, even with a phone mic—get as up close and personal as you can with the apple of your phone camera’s eye. Sometimes this doesn’t account for disruptive background noises, such as wind or traffic. If your video stream is live, ensure that your location is free of ambient noise in excess. A more complete solution would be an external mic, which can easily be hooked up to any audio jack. Also consider whether your phone case effects the quality of your mic. In most cases, you’re likely better off without the extra baggage.

There’s an app for that

You don’t need to be an editing mogul to add professional-looking effects such as overlay banners, transitions, color correction, and more to your stream. There are a number of third-party apps available which offer easy-to-use editing features to add oomph to your video content. Just because you’re on a phone doesn’t mean you should limit yourself!

Regardless of whether you’re using an iPhone 7 or a classic Nokia (good luck with that), make sure your video content can hold its own. After all, content is king.

How to broadcast on a mobile device with Primcast and Wowza:

  1. Launch the Wowza GoCoder app on your iOS device. An instructional overlay image is displayed on top of the application after it launches.
  2. The overlay provides a brief description of each of the app’s buttons. To dismiss it, tap anywhere on the screen. To dismiss the overlay image permanently, tap the Xcharacter.
  3. Note: For devices that don’t have an LED flash for the rear-facing (iSight) camera, only the Switch camera button is available in the upper-left corner of the app. The camera button isn’t displayed on iPhone (3GS and later) devices, which have only a front-facing (FaceTime) camera. Specify the Wowza server information. Tap the Server button in the upper-right corner of the app to display the Server page.
  4. Tap Host, enter Server and Port information, and then tap Back.
  5. In Server, enter the Wowza server IP address or hostname. In Port, enter the port used for streaming. By default, a Wowza server binds to TCP port 1935 for all forms of streaming. Tap Application, enter Application and Stream Name information, and then tap Back.
  6. Tap Publisher Login, enter Publisher Name and Password information, and then tap Done
  7. Specify encoding settings for video and audio. Tap the Options button in the upper-right corner of the app to display the Options page.
  8. Video For video streams, do the following: Tap Stream, tap either Video + Audio or Video Only, and then tap Back.
  9. Tap Video Settings, specify the Frame Rate, Key Frame Interval (number of frames between key frames), and Transport protocol, and then tapBack.
  10. Tap Video Size, select a video size, and then tap Back.
  11. To apply a filter to the video output, select one of the following video filters at the bottom of the Options page: No Filter, B/W (black-and-white), Blur,B/W Blur. Then tap Done.
  12. Audio For audio-only streams, do the following: Tap Stream, tap Audio Only, and then tap Back.
  13. This setting removes any video that’s present from the encoded stream, meaning that only the audio portion is delivered to the Wowza server. If everything is configured correctly, you’ll see the following message displayed in the app: Audio-only To specify the transport protocol for the audio-only stream, tap Video Settings, tap either TCP or UDP, and then tap Done.
  14. Auto Restart To specify that the GoCoder app should start streaming to the Wowza server after the connection is lost and then re-established, slide the Auto Restart button to ON.
  15. Specify the encoded bitrate for the stream. Tap the bitrate button in the lower-left corner of the app to show the available bitrates.
  16. In the bitrate bar, select the highest bitrate value that you want to stream.
  17. To broadcast to the Wowza server, tap the Encode button.
  18. You’re done.

6 Reasons No One is Watching Your Videos

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  • Title, description, and keywords:
    • Don’t overlook the little things. A catchy title alone can generate new leads. As for your video description, hook them in the first 160 characters. Keep it relatively short and sweet. Consider a copywriter, or at least do your research into writing a relevant, memorable description that draws viewers into your video. Look into video content within the same category, and see which ones have the most views and\or engagement. Alternatively, using a platform with analytics, find out which of your own videos had the most engagement and construct a similar, if not better, model.
  • SEO Ranking
    • SEO is about helping people find your video. You don’t want to look like Boo Boo the Fool, waiting for people to watch your video when it can’t be found. It’s all about SEO optimization. Basically, search engines use your keywords to index your videos. If people are not searching for the keywords you use to list your video and nobody can find it, nobody is going to watch it. This is almost so obvious that it’s too obvious—being entirely absorbed in perfecting the content, although important, and leaving much to be desired in terms of video optimization can leave you hearing crickets when it comes to actually receiving the views you desire. The goal should be to boost the page higher up search engine rankings by using the right keywords that will direct traffic to your site.
  • Ambiguous content
    • People want to know what they are in for, just like me at the beginning of any relationship, although I hold myself back from asking, “what are we?” Don’t leave any ambiguity as to what your video is about. This goes hand-in-hand with titles and descriptions. If your videos are mostly on-demand, put some thought into what the thumbnail says about the video, as well. You wouldn’t commit to someone before knowing what you’re in for, right? Right?! Focus on creating what Jim Toben, president of Ignite Social Media, calls “trust content”, or video as a method of brands having face-to-face time with their audience. This allows viewers to connect to your content in a personal way.
  • Low engagement
    • Ask yourself: what am I offering my viewers? What does my video content do for them when they could be watching literally anything else? Give them a reason to engage with your content in a way that feels fulfilling and not like a waste of their precious time.WHY should they watch it? It is up to you to give them a reason. Every minute, 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. Consider this your competition.
    • Along with trust content, your video must be value content. Though your instincts may tell you otherwise, let viewers know what they are in for right off the bat. Video engagement doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Who really knows what happens in a vacuum? Well, vacuum manufacturers, I guess. All I know is that if my dog is terrified of it, I don’t want to be involved. But I digress.
  • Little to no promotion
    • How many well-known brands do you know which do not have a social media presence? The majority of successful campaigns have some form of promotion on social media. This is the best way to catch the attention of your existing audience–it’s good and free exposure. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, share the landing page, share, share, share. Embed your video, embed your landing page, you can even try to embed yourself wherever possible. Sometimes—and I stress the word sometimes—paid promotion pays off. That is, if you have the budget for it and if you think this can contribute to your success.
  • Timing and audience retention
    • According to a study by Microsoft, the average person has an attention span of eight seconds, falling just short of that of a goldfish. For video content specifically, the first fifteen seconds are perhaps the most important to capture your audience. Despite this sad revelation, average viewership actually drops off at 60 seconds or so. This is truer for longer videos—if a viewer knows they are about to (or expected to) watch a significant amount of content, they are more likely to drop off. With shorter videos, viewers will stick around for longer. Excluding seminars or conferences in which people know what they are signing up for, keep it short.

How to Pull Off a Successful Live Product Launch

shutterstock_305395223So you’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into creating and cultivating your product or service, and now it’s all grown up and ready to go to market on its own. Like any parent of a child fleeing the nest, you want it to succeed. Unlike a parent, however, you may also want it to be widely talked about, wildly popular on social media, and purchased in large quantities. And how better to launch (ha!) your baby than with a live product launch?

More than 50% of companies who planned to use live streaming video in 2016 stated in one survey that they would use live streaming videos for marketing efforts like product launches. It’s an effort which makes sense—after watching a related video, 64% of viewers are more likely to buy a product online. Product launches are one of the most popular uses for live streaming within a business, as well as a lucrative way of generating excitement for the product in question and building the kind of buzz necessary to boost sales. By examining some of the best and worst product launches from well-known brands and taking into account what made them successful (or unsuccessful), we can make our own live releases bigger and better.

The Best

If product launches were a competition—and if you think about it, they are—Apple is the frontrunner. The launcher to end all launches, so to speak. If you’re going to look at a single example of what to do when planning and streaming a live product launch, look to Apple. Its insanely anticipated events consistently make front page news in the world of tech. Everyone knows that something big is happening, and they pay attention. So how do they do it?

Think about who is center stage at an Apple product launch. Definitely not Linda from HR (no offense, Linda). The CEO is almost always the one leading the conversation. Currently, that’s Tim Cook. Before his passing, it was Steve Jobs, who was arguably one of the best public speakers of our time. Jobs spent weeks masterfully composing and rehearsing his words and gestures to capture the audience’s hearts and minds (and wallets). And it worked.

Part of planning your event is making sure, and then making sure again, that your speakers are prepared. Nobody wants to look at a bunch of boring bullet points on a PowerPoint. Your event should be scripted and choreographed. Also take into account how the event looks, how engaging your speakers are, and consider how this reflects on your brand as a whole. Make a big deal about it. If you make a lot of noise, you’re more likely to be heard and attract more media attention and potential customers.

Elements of success

Even if you’re not Apple, as most of us aren’t, live streaming a product launch can still greatly benefit your brand. However, it requires a certain amount of effort on your part as your product or service is unfortunately not going to sell itself. There are some key elements which need to fall in place before your live event can take off.

  • People over product: How often did audiences hear Steve Jobs discussing minor details of the iPhone’s screen resolution? Rarely, if ever. Instead, he goes out of his way to emphasize how the product affects you, the people. In Jobs’ eponymous biopic, he has a moment of clarity after his daughter complains about having to carry around a Walkman. This is the anecdote he uses to pitch the iPod. Yes, this really happened—and it worked! Don’t drone on about your product’s specs or why it’s better than another product’s specs—tell the audience how it can improve their lives. Incite interaction and take questions. And, if asked, you should be able to tell them how it will make their lives better.
  • Marketing: You need a marketing strategy. I’ll say it again: you need a marketing strategy. So many products—even good products—have failed due to lack of a good one. Marketing includes advertising, good press, and various initiatives on social media. Another element you can use is pre-recorded video. Apple incorporates them into live events all the time, marrying the best of both worlds. If your pre-recorded video content is up to professional standards, it can add up the ante at your presentation.
  • Building up hype isn’t enough. You need to keep the momentum going and keep your audience interested. Would you go on a date with someone who texts you a few times and then never texts you back? Much to my emotional detriment, I do, but I would hope that you don’t. Keep your audience excited and in the know until, during, and after product launch day. Social media offers the perfect platform to do this. Visuals are a key aspect in the appeal of social media. Post appealing graphics, interesting videos, and pretty photos to showcase your product and your brand. Use social media to your benefit to foster brand loyalty and have a consistent following that will follow you to your next product launch.
  • The technical: Obviously, having a fully functional live streaming service is key to a successful product launch live stream. Choosing a video platform can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. A professional platform like Primcast comes with all the bells and whistles. This includes options for embedding, pay-per-view, security, monetization, and a white label player which reflect professionalism in your brand. Another important factor to take into consideration is equipment. You need quality video and audio equipment as well as a good software or hardware encoder and trained staff to operate it.

 

The Worst

  1. Google Glass

What was slated to be a revolutionary piece of eyewear that would launch us decades into the feature was, well, a complete flop. Personally, I wouldn’t wear something that clunky and visually unappealing. Aesthetics aside, it must be said: Google Glass was actually not a bad product. You could even say that it was good. It was its marketing strategy that was bad. Very, very bad. There are a number of reasons why, but Forbes highlights the fact that there was no real, tangible product launch. Google used early adapters, or celebrities and public figures, to advertise. Forbes noted that while it gave them free PR,  they dropped the ball by more or less not having an official public announcement or release date. It was not enough just to show a product off and engender desire for it.

2. Amazon Fire

Does anyone remember the total failure that was the Amazon Fire phone? Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ gimmicky foray into the mobile phone world crashed and burned not too soon after its launch. No more than a couple of months later, it was selling at 99 cents, a staggering drop from its original $199 price tag.

Shane Barker, a blogger and frontrunner in online sales and lead generation, suggested that what we should learn from the Amazon Fire failure is to put the needs of the users first and not focus too much on creating a demand for your product. Rather, come up with a product that meets the demands of the people, market it well, and launch it with fireworks (maybe not literal fireworks if you’re indoors, but you know what I mean).

This fiery fairytale has a happy ending, though. Amazon Fire’s spectacular sizzling out lead to the success of the Echo. Bezos even told Business Insider that it was a useful lesson in failure, and one we can all learn from.

4 Reasons to Choose Primcast for Internet Radio Broadcasting

In 2016, a study by Edison Research found that 50% of the American population listened to online radio, with 136 million unique listeners tuning in every week and up to 160 million per month. Radio streaming is revolutionizing the way we receive news, listen to and curate the music we want to listen to, keep up to date on pop culture, and even how we consume stories. For broadcasters, it has an unlimited number of potential uses and potential global reach. Thousands of stations are already on the web, broadcasting their own content to the millions listening.

The numbers say that there is literally no reason not to start broadcasting online, and Primcast makes it as easy as it is accessible. All you need to start is an internet connection and a computer, and you can do so for free.

Why Primcast? Glad you asked.

Superior Service

Always deliver. With our low latency global network, you can deliver your audio content to a worldwide audience of any size. Stream to up to 1 million connections or more simultaneously, no sweat. If listeners have access to the internet, as most people do, they can listen to your station. No need to carry around a boombox like Radio Raheem and deal with finicky AM/FM radio or homicidal police. Keep your station accessible to anyone on any internet-connected device. As an added bonus, Primcast supports a multitude of preferred broadcasting tools, so you can broadcast how you want. This includes services like Shoutcast, which adds your station to its online directory at no extra cost as a way of letting users find you. Who doesn’t like a little bit of free advertising?

Advanced Features:

  • Cross Platform Delivery: Gone are the days of depending on magical towers, invisible airwaves, and an antenna to broadcast or tune in. Deliver your stream across all platforms, including laptops, desktops, iOS and Android devices.
  • 24/7 Radio Automation: Our around-the-clock automated broadcasting system gives you the ability to stream pre-recorded content so your station can be live, even when you’re not.
  • Social Media Integration: Maximizing your potential listener base is within arm’s reach with our built-in social media services. Get interactive by sharing your station across channels like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Free Mobile App: Extend your reach. With our mobile app, you can reach your listeners through their mobile devices, no matter where they are. Get it deployed to all markets including iOS, Android and RIM, free of charge with our Enterprise plan.
  • No Website Required: No need to have your own website with our turnkey solution. Your radio player is deployed on a custom website for your station, accessible from any device.
  • Live Calls: Why buy expensive broadcasting software when you can stream and take live calls with MIXXX? It’s provided free of charge and can be used with Skype.

Revenue Streams

According to a survey coordinated by AdAge, The Trade Desk, and Advantage Business Research, US marketing and media professionals will allocate an average of 11.6% of their ad budget and inventory to digital audio placements by mid-2017. According to the same AdAge study, 37.4% of respondents in the US said that formatted music channels are of interest when considering buying programmatically. Audio advertising can be a significant source of revenue for your station, as internet radio offers advertisers’ the potential to reach a wider, more targeted audience.

Pricing:

  • FREE: includes support for unlimited listeners, user statistics, and an embeddable player. Start your station at no cost to you. It’s a good way to test the radio waters and experience Primcast’s service before diving in. Or continue for free for as long as you like!
  • Premium: A step up from our free plan, our premium broadcasting service is an affordable $42 per month and includes 24/7 support and 3GB audio file storage.
  • Enterprise: Do the most with our exclusive Enterprise plan. At $99 per month, it comes with all of the features in our Free and Premium plans PLUS unlimited bitrate, two radio streams, unlimited audio file storage, and a free mobile app.

How to Start Your Online Radio Station

So you want to be a DJ, but not the kind who remixes house and trap music in a basement in Bushwick. Yes, this is a thing. You can go down the AM/FM route, which is arduous, expensive, time-consuming, resource-heavy, and comes with many legal road bumps. Or, if you fall under the category of average person with an average budget, an internet connection, and a desire to be heard, you can set up a digital radio station and broadcast online. But let’s say you’ve never done this before and don’t know where to start. Don’t be overwhelmed—we’ve got you covered!shutterstock_85077796

Branding your station

As with any program, product, or service, you need a name. It should ideally be one that is short, catchy, and easy to remember. Think of stations similar to you on traditional AM/FM radio that one would usually listen to. Would you tune in to something called 98.8 All About Roadkill or Boring Silence Radio? Well, maybe if you’re into that. Not that it’s weird or anything. It might be fun to take advantage of the fact that there are little to no naming restriction guidelines for internet radio.

Even more obvious but required “equipment” is a solid genre for your station. What do you offer to listeners? What topics are discussed on your shows or what kind of music do you play? Who will your guests be? These are questions which you should have the answers to before you dive in. And if you haven’t already, you might also want to consider setting up a dedicated website for your station. Luckily, Primcast’s internet radio hosting services come with a radio player deployed on a custom page.

How it works

Obviously, broadcasting online is different from doing so on the airwaves and even more different from writing song lyrics on parchment and sending it via pigeon to multiple people. Audio content played on your computer travels as a stream of data from the computer to an audio streaming service such as Shoutcast or Icecast, the use of which we will discuss later in greater detail. The server of the streaming service (say that five times fast) makes this data available to anyone in the world who wants to listen, as long as they have an internet connection to connect to the server.

Equipment

Now that you know the nuts and bolts of how your radio station works, it’s time to acquire these nuts and bolts. You may even already have some of the hardware needed for digital radio. This includes the obvious, like a working PC or high-end laptop, a microphone, and headphones. But if you want the results to be high quality, it makes sense to invest in high quality equipment and, more specifically, audio equipment. It’s possible that you will need extras like sound screens, so keep this in mind when working out your budget. Oh, did we forget to mention that you should know your budget?

Now, to get back to Shoutcast. This is one of the aforementioned servers that deliver your stream to listeners and one of multiple audio streaming software supported by Primcast. Deciding which equipment is right for you may require a bit of research, and even more so with the adoption of hardware. Audio encoding and broadcasting hardware has many advantages (and some disadvantages) in comparison to its software counterparts, but they can also work in tandem.

Setting up

Having a studio space is ideal, but not necessary. If you’re broadcasting from home, set up your station on a designated desk space somewhere quiet with little room for disturbances. Remember that any good recording or broadcasting environment should have good acoustics. You might be surprised to learn that testing acoustics is as simple as clapping your hands. The clapping sound should be amplified, not echoed or muffled. Acoustic panels can help in this situation.

Growing a listener base

Every radio station needs listeners. Otherwise, it’s just a lone person talking into a void, which I tend to do often. Luckily, you have social media at your disposal to promote and get likes and shares. Promoting your station across your personal social media profiles is one way to do it, but it’s advisable to create profiles for the station itself and do the same. You can link up these profiles or automate posts so that your followers are alerted of show times and updates as they happen. It may also be helpful to know that if you choose Shoutcast or Icecast as your streaming server, you will be automatically listen on their website station directory.

All About Religious Streaming Services: Would You Live Stream Your Funeral?

shutterstock_512333746When you think of live streaming video, Sunday church service may not necessarily be the first thing that comes to mind. More mainstream uses include the live broadcast of rubber bands being wrapped around a watermelon until it explodes, but you may be surprised to learn that religious services are one of the fastest growing institutions adapting to live video. Pew Research Center has found that one in five people in the country are already using the internet for observing and sharing faith-related content. What does this imply for churches, mosques, temples, and the like? Can live streaming be utilized for spiritual purposes?

In short, yes!

Many religious institutions are benefiting from the changing tides by taking advantage of the live streaming technology now available to them as a new method of reaching out to those who are otherwise unreachable. This is the most easily identifiable benefit: by going online, your message can reach millions of people and potential followers, no matter where in the world they are or what size your house of faith is. This ease of access also applies to followers who are simply unable to attend services, such as regular churchgoers who are away or the sick and elderly.

With a good video streaming service, there is usually the option to record your live content. This allows you to make your services or ceremonies available for viewing at any time as an on-demand video in addition to the option to rebroadcast or create DVDs. In doing so, this generates interest and opens the door for new members of the community to watch services online and get a feel for your institution on their own time without any stigmas attached.

Dedicated streaming services can aid in strengthening your relationship with your existing followers by allowing them to feel more connected to the larger community and in turn, to their faith. It can also make it easier for them to give back. Although you might usually do it during a service, fundraising for charity and bringing in donations for your place of worship online is simple with a paywall. In essence, live streaming services for religious institutions can pay off. Services such as Primcast understand that most houses of worship are relatively small in size and cannot afford a cable slot in the first place and consequently offer extremely affordable plans.

And then there is the advent of special events that are typically held in houses of worship. We’ve discussed weddings, but what about funerals? There’s ‘til death do us part—and then what? A growing number of family members and friends of the deceased have participated in the live streaming of funeral proceedings. Relatives who can’t be there in person to mourn—or celebrate life, as one might look at it—can grieve from afar, while still (in a way) being a part of the ceremony. Call it a deadly compromise.

Imagine being able to access a funeral the way you’d access pay-per-view. Family and friends usually receive a password and are able to view the live stream from wherever they are. While this may seem impersonal, it’s beneficial to some in the same way live church services are—when they they simply cannot attend an important service due to distance or disability, but still want to participate. It is especially useful for those whose faiths require an immediate or quick burial, such as the Jewish or Muslim.

A New Zealand-based service called One Room started providing funeral live streaming services in 2012. Today, they claim to stream over 1000 funerals a year, with 25,000 people having watched funeral streams across 68 countries. As with a lot of developments in tech, there are major criticisms on the implications of these developments on greater society and culture. Some worry that the ability to live stream such services will make even those who are able to physically attend, skip out. But streaming technology was not necessarily developed to be a replacement for real life experiences. we must remember that nothing can replace giving a speech at your best friend’s wedding or being able to properly say goodbye to a loved one.

How to Plan Your Live Event So That It’s Not Fyre Festival

If you haven’t heard of the hot mess that was Fyre Festival, you are in for a treat. What was supposed to be an all-inclusive luxury island getaway and music festival for wealthy millennials and trust fund babies turned out to be all flash and no festival. None of the infrastructure for the event had been built, no musical acts had shown up, the accommodations were really FEMA-style tents with few beds and even fewer amenities, and the promised land of a private island was mostly dirt.

For the first time in their lives, rich people had to fight for resources. All in all, it was great for those who could not afford a festival ticket priced in the four digits, but could monitor the mess unfold on social media from the comfort of their own homes. More importantly, though, it was the perfect example of what not to do when putting on a live event. So what can we learn from this debacle?

  1. Plan

Know your target audience. You wouldn’t sell a business seminar to a bunch of dogs in suits, just like you wouldn’t expect college students with $60,000 in student loan debt to pay thousands to party with Bella Hadid (or not). Have a clear idea of what your event is about and what it should look like. What category would it fall under? What is the main goal of the event? When is the right time and date to broadcast? Think these through and generate a relevant title and theme for your live event and stick to it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or gussied up with the promise of supermodels.

200w_d (6)Putting on an event is also more expensive than you think. Marisa Laureni, owner of Romela Events, said in a statement to Eventbrite that Audio/Video components can be the most expensive aspect of live streaming an event, but paying big bucks for high quality equipment generally pays off. Just don’t overextend and promise Beyonce when you only have the budget for a Beyonce impersonator.

Having the time to plan is possibly the most important aspect of putting on any kind of event. According to Eventbrite, your timeline can be estimated by your predicted number of attendees as follows:

  • 200-400 attendees: 6-8 weeks
  • 400-800 attendees: 3-4 months
  • 800+ attendees: 6 months to 1 year
  • As early as possible!
  1. Promote—but not too much

If you’re on Instagram, chances are that you’re no stranger to the concept of brunch or that of “influencers”. Influencer is another term for tastemaker, which is another term for model on social media who gets paid for promoting weight loss teas. It’s not a bad gig. The most damning mistake made by Fyre Festival developers aside from, well, everything, was allocating the majority of their budget to marketing and leaving none for execution of the actual event. Paying Instagram influencers in swimsuits to hang out on a yacht for a promotional video is cool, but having people pay to do the same only to show up and find The Hunger Games is asking for a lawsuit.

Promoting your event and live stream doesn’t have to break the bank. Release details in small increments to boost interest in your event as it approaches. Spread this information (making sure to include the time and date) everywhere—advertise it on your website, in newsletters, and on social media. Create a landing page for your event and provide a link to it in your promotions. Essentially, keep your expectations realistic and your promotions accurate. Unless you’re Ja Rule. Then screw it and scam a bunch of rich kids out of millions of dollars and donate it to charity. Whatever.

  1. Accommodate your audience

If you promise five-star gourmet dining experience, make sure that it isn’t just a bunch of cheese sandwiches that prompt your clients to go all Lord of the Flies. Similarly, if you’re advertising a live stream experience that provides something of value to viewers (especially if they’re paying for it), take all the steps to ensure that that’s really what you’re providing! You may also want to spend time considering how your live stream will look and sound to viewers. To guarantee a positive viewing experience, check lighting conditions and noise levels at your event location well in advance. Location also matters. Keep your surroundings in mind, as this is the backdrop your audience will be looking at the whole time.

  1. Test your equipment and connectivity

Quality cameras and mics are standard for a well-planned live stream. Nobody will want to watch something that looks like it was produced by Kim Kardashian and Ray J. (On second thought, a lot of people would, but that’s not the aesthetic we’re going for here). Make sure all of your equipment is working and, if possible, have backup equipment just in case. Check if you have the bandwith to support HD streaming, but keep your viewers in mind, as they may not have the same level of bandwith. Offer an alternate stream in standard definition. It is possible to capture content in HD and stream it in SD. Shooting in HD and converting down will look significantly better than shooting in SD.

  1. Do a practice run

Rehearsals exist for a reason. Whether it’s for an elementary school play or a wedding, there absolutely has to be a dry run-through to make sure everything runs smoothly on the scheduled day of the event. If you’re lucky, your cheating ex will only show up to ruin your rehearsal dinner and not your actual wedding. Having a practice run leaves less room for technical mishaps and human error. It also gives you a chance to make sure that any guest speakers or performers you may have are prepared. If your guests are musical acts like Blink-182, make sure they show up. Pay them on time. And definitely make sure there’s an actual stage for them to perform on. Who’s listening to Blink-182 in 2017, anyway? We need to talk.

How Does Live Streaming Support Businesses and Build ROI?

There’s an episode of The Office in which Michael Scott is invited to Dunder Mifflin’s re-branding party by his protégé-turned-boss, Ryan—or so he thinks. It turns out that ‘password’ wasn’t the name of a trendy new club, and the invitation was for Michael to teleconference in at the live event. He wasn’t too happy about this, but things ultimately worked out for Michael, and not so much for Ryan.

Sitcoms aside, investing in live streaming has proven to be beneficial for many businesses, especially in terms of return-on-investment: one could even say that it literally ends up paying for itself. This works in a number of different ways. Some are obvious and instant, such as using pay-per-view, paywalls, or advertising. Others are more long-term, like money saved by communicating with employees without having to travel without making things impersonal. Lastly, some are abstract in the sense that they provide rich user experiences which result in brand recognition beyond traditional methods of marketing, and good marketing is what makes consumers more likely to purchase products and services.

In short, live video supports businesses by providing ROI. Let’s look at some statistics:

  • 40% of people who watch a live stream of an event will attend the same event the following year (Digitell)
  • Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users (Vidyard)
  • Businesses using video grow 49% faster than organizations without video (Aberdeen Group)
  • 52% of marketing pros/marketers worldwide** name video as the type of content with the best ROI (HubSpot)
  • 73% of B2B marketing professionals say that video has positively impacted marketing results (Reel SEO)
  • 74% of marketers say video produces more conversions than other content (Vidyard)
  • Enjoyment of video increases purchase intent by 97% and brand association by 139% (Unruly)

Now, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of live streaming? The likely answer is live events. Streaming live events is a method of visual storytelling which allows consumers to interact with your brand, making them more likely to engage with it in the future. Product releases are one of the main ways that companies use live event streaming, but with a subscription to a great live streaming platform, it can be used literally any time your company or organization wishes to communicate with the general public with an unlimited potential reach.

Consider the wild popularity of Fashion Week. The world of high fashion used to be inaccessible to many. In 2009, Alexander McQueen made the decision to livestream his Spring/Summer 2010 show at New York Fashion Week. It racked up 3.5 million views on YouTube, and next year, Marc Jacobs, Burberry, and Alexander Wang (among others) followed suit. Natalie Okupniak, executive producer of B Productions, believes this happened because brands began to see the potential of live streaming as a marketing event rather than just a trade vent. And she’s right—Russel Quy, president of B Productions’ streaming division, stated that they collect data, such as which looks were most popular in which countries as well as email addresses collected through live stream access portals, and bring that data back to brands. Marc Jacobs and Rebecca Minkoff make use of these tactics, which work even if you’re not a major fashion house.

Live streaming can also prove effective for employees of a brand and can be used to train company newcomers. Microsoft is one of many brands who have invested in video training for their employees, and in doing so, they claim to have avoided annual costs of $13.9 million, a ROI of over 500% on their investment in the training system. And they aren’t the only ones: thousands of companies have seen cost reductions by using live video for corporate communications. This includes meetings, presentations, proposals, conferences, and more. In a 2014 case study by Streaming Media, Eric Hards, manager of digital media services at Lockheed Martin, estimated that they were able to save $100,000 per live event. This is coming from an estimated travel cost of around $2,000 for each attendee of a two-day, minus the cost of facilities. Think about the savings!

Last but not least, the most obvious method: charging people to watch your video content. This can be done by using a streaming platform that offers pay-per-view or paywall options. Simply put, viewers can only access your stream upon payment. There are other methods, such as selling ad monetization or offering a subscription service.

Live Streaming is the Future of Performance Art

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The ways in which we consume entertainment, social media, and even food (you have to Instagram it first) are changing. It only makes sense for art to follow, and it has been—modern art has evolved in waves over the past decade with the advent of the internet, and performance art is no exception. In an interview with Huck Magazine, Nick Tee, who is the creator of online performance art piece #cam4art, said that while performance art largely involves performing to a camera, it hasn’t generally involved live streaming—until now.

#cam4art is a passion project of Tee’s which allows artists to broadcast their art via live stream from anywhere, whether it be their studio or their bedroom. Using nothing but a webcam and an internet connection, artists have the opportunity to share their projects with a global audience who can also access it from anywhere. Tee is one of many artists who have realized the potential of live streams, and the previously unprecedented reach they can provide to artists and art consumers alike.

For anyone who is a fan of modern art, Marina Abramović is somewhat of a household name. In 2010, Abramović was the artist behind “The Artist is Present”, a performance piece spanning eleven weeks at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The exhibit consisted of her sitting in a padded wooden chair at a small table for up to eight hours at a time, with another chair directly across from her. One at a time, visitors took turns sitting the chair opposite Abramović as they sat in complete silence. Some cried, some laughed, it was the best of times, it was the most uncomfortable of times.

A live video feed captured every second of the piece, and this was the main source of viewing for many who wanted to experience the exhibit, as lines were considerably long—people waited for hours to sit in a chair across from her—and many could not head to New York to physically visit the museum. (Suckers! We live here). Abramović sat in her wooden chair for a total of 750 hours.  While the footage itself is no longer available, photographs can be previewed on the MoMA site. “The Artist is Present” was (and still is) talked about for years after and launched Abramović into superstardom earning her the title of the ‘grandmother of performance art’ and inspiring an HBO documentary chronicling the exhibit.

In 1974, Abramović constructed a similar but far braver exhibit. In this piece, she sat at a table, but this one was strewn with 72 different objects. This included regular objects like roses, and some were very much not regular, like a pistol pre-loaded with bullets. She invited the audience to use the objects on her. Abramović stated then that she was ready to die. At the end of the exhibit, she left in tears, bloody from rose thorns being used to prick her, her clothes cut up by scissors.

This courageous piece of performance art spoke volumes about human nature and what people are willing to do when there are technically no consequences. How might this have differed if the exhibit was broadcast live? Would the watchful eye of a global audience incite a fundamental change in the dynamic between artist and participant?

Oh, and then there’s Shia LaBeouf. What can we say about Shia LaBeouf? On a personal level, as someone who grew up watching Even Stevens, I have always been fond of him. In more recent times, he’s better known as the buff guy in the Sia music video or the guy behind the “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE” mask. At one point, he wore a monitor while attending the SXSW Music Festival and live streamed his heartbeat.

In November 2015, the then 29-year-old actor launched the art installation called #AllMyMovies, in which LaBeouf watched all of his movies back-to-back over a period of three days at the Angelika Film Center in New York, broadcasting himself live via webcam. This was met with a ton of online enthusiasm. Aside from the thousands of people who spent hours waiting in line to share a theater with the, tens of thousands more were watching LaBeouf’s reactions to his own work via live stream, which was the focal point of the project.

Because the stream was online and readily available to anyone who’d be interested in watching someone watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which is torture in and of itself, the project gained tons of momentum via Twitter using the hashtag #ALLMYMOVIES. Users on social media were quick to make gifs and jokes. They were also present for the less gif-able moments on the 24-hour livestream, like when the actor couldn’t stay awake said Indiana Jones remake, or when he took a nap on the floor.

Anyone who has gone to see a movie in a theater with a loved one (or at least anyone who has seen the movie Amelie) has experienced the joy of watching other peoples’ faces contort, laugh, cry, or laugh from crying in a shared experience in the dark. The intimate close-up of LaBeouf’s reactions to his own work put us in touch with our own livelihoods: after all, how would we feel watching ourselves working in our offices, accomplishing goals, or failing spectacularly? Some moments might be cringeworthy, others may be funny, few may turn out glorious.

Last but not least memorable, there was HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US. On January 20th, 2017, the same day as the inauguration of the current President*, LaBeouf debuted his installation at the Museum of the Modern Image in Queens, New York. It was a relatively simple concept, a white wall with a webcam attached to it bearing the phrase “HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US” in bold black text. The live stream was set up to run 24 hours a day, with LaBeouf encouraging the public to visit the exhibit and chant “he will not divide us” into the camera for a watchful global audience.

This was no abstract concept. It was a direct criticism of Donald Trump and his cronies through an art installation based entirely on live streaming. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, it was taken down by the museum no more than a month later following violent incidents at the site, including one instance with a neo-nazi and LaBeouf himself.

Perhaps demonstrating that there may already be a gaping ideological divide was the intended outcome.