Desert Hearts co-founder Marbs delivers key live streaming advice for artists.
Live Streaming—the phenomenon that has officially taken over the dance music world in this new pandemic era, and a topic we’ve covered at length. For touring musicians, live stream performances have become a lifeline, providing supplemental income in lieu of gigs. In return, fans are able to connect with one another and find an outlet to dance and enjoy as close to a live music experience as possible from the comfort of their homes.
The onset of DJs and other musicians taking to Twitch and other platforms, however, has led to the same problem plaguing the live events arena: high levels of market saturation. At any given day, there are hundreds of live streams to choose from—to the point where some music aficionados have even expressed burnout from the onslaught. So, how does one conquer this problem and rise above the noise to create their own successful niche in this new realm?
Enter Marbs, co-founder of Desert Hearts and its Desert Hearts Black subsidiary, and perhaps one of the most successful live streaming acts in all of dance music. He and his Desert Hearts co-founders immediately established a consistent schedule of live streaming at the start of the nationwide stay-at-home order and were also among the first to stage a full-on digital “festival” event. Combined with their ardent fanbase, it wouldn’t take long for Desert Hearts to become official Twitch partners, regularly racking up over 20K views at any given time during their extended sets on the platform. The process has in fact led to an explosion in their fanbase, with many newly inducted “Desert Hearts” excited at the prospect of attending their first event post-lockdown.
There’s obviously a secret to sustained success that Desert Hearts has achieved, beyond the aforementioned factors with regards to live streaming, and that’s where Marbs comes in. While we’ve provided some instruction to our readers on optimizing their own digital gigs, we thought we might contract the wisdom of a proven expert as well for a deeper look on streaming success.
Marbs is also celebrating another milestone today: the first birthday of Desert Hearts Black, and also his first solo project on the label since its inception, titled Beyond The Wall. Check out the EP below, and tune into his live stream tonight to hear it in action.
Without further ado…
Create a personalized environment that communicates your vibe and interests. Trinkets and things that are important to you can be integrated into the DJ booth and space to create a unique room. For me, this was showing my actual studio with my synths, work desk, funky thrift store finds, crystals, and objects that are important to me.
The stream should grow and evolve over the weeks. With Evan Casey and I for example, we started with a simple set up in my studio, then we integrated filters using the snap app on our laptop. Eventually, we shifted to a green screen. Our issue with the green screen was it took away the intimacy of our studio. We found people liked the studio because it felt like they were in the room with us. Our solution was to create a way for the green screen to have clips of our room in the visuals video so that it alternated between our studio and green screen visuals. Now, I update the green screen visuals each week. But back to my main point, evolution is important because it keeps people interested week-to-week.
This is of the utmost importance. It took us a while to get the lighting right. If you’re not using a green screen then some vibey, color-changing lights work great to keep the things shifting and interesting. Once we integrated the green screen we had to shift into a more natural white light that lit up the room extremely well so that the green screen worked properly. Find what fits your set up best, and don’t be afraid to try new things and take risks!
Interacting with the stream chat and the people watching is so important for a successful and sustainable stream. Make sure to have a mic and your computer set up in a way where you can easily pop from your DJ setup over to your computer to talk in the chats. Also, have your tipping backend pulled up on another window on your computer, so when people tip you can go in and read their comments back to them. We always tell people that we’ll read anything they leave in the comments—funny jokes, announcing birthday wishes, whatever people want really. It enhances the live aspect AND it gets people more active in the experience. This also helps increase tips and subscribers, because people want to be involved. Build your community and make them the focus. Everything successful we’ve ever done has come from a place of strengthening our community.
Explore ALL the music you love, not just what you “normally” play. Bring in guests that you believe in. Create fun things that happen when you hit your tip or sub-goals. For example, we put goofy wigs and glasses on when we reach our tips or, one time, we turned it into a onesie party once we hit our goals … give people things to help them stay engaged and look forward to, and above all HAVE FUN. The viewers can feel your energy; they’re watching your every move and emotion. Find ways to be comfortable and yourself in front of the camera.