Saturday, 27 April 2013

Playing on

StreeJelly - Online Busking

The above is the logo for a buskers online live music website that I found courtesy of one of my G+ music friends called Cecilee Linke. I had a look at it last week and thought I would give it a try.

All you need is a webcam and a mic, sign up to streetjelly and broadcast to the world. Anybody can drop in and watch and if they like what they here they can tip the artist with tokens bought via paypal, so just like busking on the street, but you can do it from your living room.

So tonight I gave it a try, I'd scheduled myself to play at 5.30pm, you can do that by entering a time into their calender of up and coming performers.

Now I've done these hangouts where there's someone to soundcheck you before you begin the show but this is the first time I've tried to do this on streetjelly and there's no-one here just me and a few prompts on the screen.

I'm a bit short of time to get set up for my five thirty start but I'm sure it'll be fine. I plug in a couple of mics into my big mixer and run it through my soundblaster soundcard which has worked fine for my hangout gigs. Although I've just recently bought a mini mixer for doing these sort of things I decide to go with what I know.  Then as I'm setting up with 15mins to go I find I can't get the headphones working, thats the first thing that goes wrong. I find a fix for that problem and get the mic on the guitar and the vocal working and check it with a trial run on my internal Samsung software. It all seems to work fine.

I've got five minutes to my allotted time slot and I fire up street jelly into pre broadcast mode. There's a prompt that says I can do a test to see what my viewers will hear, I hit the test button and another screen opens up that is about ten seconds behind the one that I see. I don't know if it plays automatically and fumble to get some other cans plugged into my laptop to check out the viewers feed, and they get caught under the wheels of my office chair, 3 mins to go. I can't make any sense of this feed and I need to get myself a drink of water, and a cigarette before I have to start broadcasting. I can't find my baccy, so resign myself to going live without a smoke, but at least I have my water and I hit the START BROADCAST button.

This is it, I'm on and I say hello and play my first tune to what appears to be no-one. I do tune number two and there's action in the chat window. Someone called Frankie tells me that I am   very distorted and very quiet. Sounds fine in my cans, but out there in cyberland it's awful. I push faders up and down but the   feedback is the same, it's still very distorted.

I get advice on fixing the problem via the chat window that confuses me, right click on my video feed, go to settings, change this and that, oooooooooooohhhhhh shit. I decide to close down and come back with just my laptop mic and webcam.

That works, they can hear me loud and clear now  so I do the show on gear lite, which is now fine at their end. From my point of view its a disaster sound wise    but I carry on and do about half an hour playing to two listeners. Mind you they are very nice to me and I get to the end of my set a bit shell shocked... Bye Bye everybody.

So lesson learned, prepare and prepare, do the sound check, and make sure its going to work before hitting the start button. Have your set mapped out like it was a gig, give yourself lots of time to make sure you get it right. This new technology is very scary and a  bit temperamental and it's so easy to mess up.

Playing to no-body except a chat room is anther learning curve, in a lot of ways I failed tonight on mostly tech levels but its only a small failure. Next time I will make sure I have enough time to prepare and have my set list and my sound sorted before I go live. That means working stuff out a couple of hours before and not a couple of minutes before.

It's scary and its a learning curve, pick myself up dust myself down and start all over again.