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Heckling

Special guest blog on Heckling in the new Social Media World, by Clifton Printy

ShoutingHeckling

Heckling is generally defined as trying to…

”…to embarrass and annoy (someone speaking or performing in public) by questions, gibes, or objections; badger.”
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/heckling

However, it is also a more subtle problem. I would further define it as intentional and unintentional acts that cause breaks, gaps, disruption, and interruption of the performance.

Most of the performers here on StreetJelly are not technological wizards freshly instilled with a degree in sound engineering or computer programming. It is their intention to share a passion and love with you. Many of them are in fact singular musicians who have only begun to perform publicly online.

Please remember that as an audience member you have a job. You came for a great performance. Here’s how you get one.

  1. Encourage, Encourage, Encourage
    • “This song is OWNT!” (David Wesley)
    • “Super Great”
    • “That song was awesome”
    • “Holy Moly” (Frankie)
    • CNTRL Clappy Clappy Clappy
    • “You are amazing”
  2. Sell
    • Put the performer’s link in the chat.
    • Chat to and about the performer. (DCrann)
    • Favorite the artist so you can see when they are on.
    • Share their performance links on social media pages.

Now for the hard pill to swallow. If you are not going to pay for production, or transportation for tutelage, and/or are not Simon Cowell; then it is probably not helping if you critique the performer’s style, ability, prowess, set-list, or looks. These things stall the performance at the least and completely decimate an artist’s timing at most. Think about it! They are remembering the chord progression, the lyrics, the pitch, the tempo, and the punch line introduction to their next song. As they answer a question about how they are, read a side joke between Image and Clifty that makes no sense what-so-ever, and quiet their friend who has just barged in; you say, “raise the bass a little.” It is completely disarming! Worse still, when a musician has a connection problem or a sound problem that is not readily repairable, he or she is constantly attacked.

Look out folks, I am just getting wound up. Making a request from an artist usually involves having an understanding of the artist. However, you have to remember that you are trying to make the show better. If you ask Image and Family to play Pantera, you are unequivocally heckling with malicious intent. As funny as it would be, we should remember that our job as an audience is to enjoy the show. For the Image and Family show, a good request may be Drunken Sailor by Great Big Sea. Continuing on with this particular vent, there are people who understand this. Ever notice that when someone is barraging the request-o-meter with impossibles that a Don Gaynor or a Damian will come in and request a song they are sure the artist is good at. They are a practical participating audience.

Important and most obvious: not every performer is for you. If you don’t like a show or performer, just leave the show. Everyone has something to offer, but maybe not to you. Be polite, too. An explicit comment may work sometimes, but not other times. Remember that your chat is visible to not only those here but those who will join in a moment. If you know you are derailing the show, pull back and encourage. You are the audience, not the heckler.

Also, a certain persistent problems frequently arise from a free to use site of this nature. Please be kind and courteous. Smoking weed, swearing, illicit sexual content, vulgarity are not always appropriate in the conversation and/or the performance. Many of us are here for pure music and art. We are all of different values, culture, and political opinion. Going into a family performance such as Image and Family’s show, or Lana Eve’s performance with illicit sexual rhetoric is more than a social faux pas: it is blatantly rude. Would you act like that at the White House, church, grandma’s house? I bet not. Could you drop a licidious comment at Molotov Colostomy’s show? Sure, they are a different sort of musicians all together. But you shouldn’t go there and try to pull a sermon off, either. Very honestly, you are not anonymous and it is not your chat. It is the artists’ show, and all viewers are entitled to hear and enjoy that performer without the rudeness and distractions from a few jerks. Make sure you know the performers and their sense of propriety before you try to shout out the familiar…. or you will really be a heckler.

Clifton PrintyLikewise, performers need to remember to be cognizant of the camera personally seeing boogie sleeve wipes, a crotch torn out of a pair of jeans, a funny cigarette, a nose pick, (special woman note: don’t bend down in front of a desktop cam), and pay attention to what you have in the frame around you since you are also live to the world.

Last, most performers here are willing to play for free, and we do. But your tipping shows us that we have value. Want preferential request treatment, familiarity, and kinship, then give compliments that come from the heart. You will know if it’s good if it builds friendship, and makes it more enjoyable for the listener and the performer.

P.S. Believe me, some of this is learned from personal mistakes. Our personal accountability will keep StreetJelly.com a wonderful and rare respite on the internet.

Tips when Broadcasting from Public Venue

Live Show

We love it when StreetJelly musicians broadcast their public performances.  But it takes a little extra care to produce a decent show.  Below are three main areas to consider when setting up a successful streaming event.

WiFi

Biggest thing to remember, not all wireless internet, WiFi, is created equal.  In fact, public WiFi is notoriously slow in many venues.  The local wireless router at a club or coffee house is usually dialed down to prevent any one person, or group of people, from hogging up the entire bandwidth.  Most small WiFi routers just can’t handle everyone camping out at a table, sipping coffee, and watching YouTubes all day long.  A slow internet connection will cause your StreetJelly video to be choppy or freeze, and make your sound cut out often.

What to do?

  • Test, test, test.  Go to the venue ahead of time and test their WiFi connection.  Make sure their internet is fast enough to broadcast and receive video.  Also, test during peak times when there are a lot of people in the building.  Everyone of you will be competing for the same bandwidth.  Use the StreetJelly broadcast-testing page to analyze how well you can broadcast.
  • Talk with the venue owners.  For one, you should already have permission to broadcast from their location, right?  Many times, a venue will have another password-protected WiFi network they use for themselves.  Ask if they have a second fast and reliable connection to the internet you can use.  They will probably be happy to help as you certainly can help promote the local venue in your show.  “Come on down, it’s Happy Hour at the best pizza joint in town.”
  • Another option, bring your own WiFi.  Most cellphone carriers offer 4g Hotspot or MiFi devices.  These work great and almost always guarantee a very strong internet connection (unless you are way out in the boonies).  But beware, this is expensive and data charges can add up quickly.  Most data plans ($50-80/mth) often limit 5 to 10 gigs of data transfer per month.  A typical one-hour streaming broadcast can use up to 1 gig of data transfer.  The penalty fees can be outrageous if you go over your limit.

Sound

Just as important as a good internet connection is your sound.  (I love stating the obvious.)  However, getting a public performance to stream well over the internet is much different than streaming from your living room.  We try to make StreetJelly as easy as possible to broadcast from home – a typical guitar player / singer can do well with a simple USB microphone like the Snowball or Meteor podcast-style mics.  Being in public, however, you are most likely using a lot more equipment to get a good and loud sound in the venue.  You cannot rely on your computer’s mic to pick up that sound well to broadcast upstream.  You will need a way to get the sound out of your equipment into your computer.  Most built-in computer mics, and even the better USB mics, can only pick up sound within 10 feet or less.  In a large room, even with high volume, these mics will pull in a dull and muddy sound.  Folks are tempted to turn up the input levels, but only to find they pick up more ambient noise (people talking, dishes clanging) with no improvement to their music.

What to do?

  • Do not use the built-in mic on your computer – never for a public broadcast.
  • Only use a USB podcast-style mic in a small intimate setting, like a coffee house, with very little background noise.
  • Use the output from your mixer to feed directly into your laptop.  An external device that can mix your sound and produce a single source to your computer works best.  Here’s an example of a “mini-mixer” device, the Alesis MultiMix 4-Channel USB Mixer.  It does a good job and is very easy to set up.  (Please note: we mention these products only for your convenience.  There are many similar products out there.  If you have used any to success, tell us below in the comments.)
  • Test at home.  It could be hard to test your full setup ahead of time at a nightclub, so best to get the feel of everything at home first.  Try your garage or wide open basement.  That will best simulate the horrible bouncing conditions you may encounter in a restaurant or club.  Set up your mic, amp, mixer, everything.  Jam as loud as you would in public.  Then test broadcast on StreetJelly’s test page and have a friend help confirm your sound settings.

Overall Package

Performing live to a public crowd, large or small, is not the same as broadcasting and chit-chatting on StreetJelly from your couch.  To think you can “throw up a webcam” at your next open-mic and hope everything is good enough; will be very disappointing.  At best, you will get the “webcam in the corner” affect on StreetJelly.  You’ve all seen this a hundred times.  A band is “streaming live” at some club – but the show is terribly boring as you only see the one tiny cam image from somewhere in the club’s rafters, and the musicians never looking into the camera.  StreetJelly viewers will get bored and not stay long …and not tip much, either.

What to do?

  • Frame yourself in the camera as best as you can, and as close as you can.
  • Remember you are performing for two audiences; the one in front of you and the one on StreetJelly.  Talk to both parties.  Even a simple acknowledgement can make all the difference.  Part of your skill as an entertainer is “working the crowd.”  Do it.
  • Get a friend to man your StreetJelly chat.  If you can not have your laptop close to you on stage, get a friend to chat for you.  The StreetJelly viewers will understand if you can’t read, type, and perform all at the same time.  But having a friend by your side to answer questions, tell everyone the name of the venue, the songs you are playing, etc., will translate into a nice experience for all those online  …and hopefully more tips!

Final thoughts.  As much as you practice your vocal range, picking skills, and songwriting ability; performing in front of an audience is also part of your craft.  Work it, practice it, and perfect it.

Any musicians with experience streaming from a public location? Please add your insights below in the comments.

Finger Picking Madness By Damian Trujillo

Special guest blog by Damian Trujillo

Damian TrujilloFinger Picking Madness By Damian Trujillo

Introduction:  Thanks to Frank Podlaha, creator of Street Jelly. This live streaming music site has been an inspiration to myself on many different levels. Oh, let me count the ways …although there are too many ways to count: Jayro from Dublin inspired my version of Black Magic Woman by Santana, Remy de Larouque from New York inspired my version of Skinny Love by Bon Iver, Quint Williams from NY does a great version of June Apple, Ben Brady sings classic country from the heart, Lana makes me want to sing better, Image and Family (Merv, Amanda, Robert) bring light hearted sailors songs with a splash of pirates from the past to life, Kurt Van Hook kills it with great lyrics and heartfelt melody, Sue Rarick with folksy voice and great guitar. The list can go on and on, so be sure take a listen for many great artists on Street Jelly.

Now on with the Finger Picking Madness. When I started playing guitar at the ripe old age of 22 (1992), I was convinced that a guitar pick was the way to go. So my training began. I was able to control the pick after about 5 years of practice. Yes 5 years, I did not have a natural gift for music other then I liked it. So I started playing local clubs, weddings, churches, funerals, on the street, dude ranches, etc. Even though I pretty much sucked, I was able to make enough money to at least keep this serious hobby alive.

I was a cover tune king, garage band junkie, but quietly and always in the back room out of site, I was writing my own tunes and lyrics. In 1998, I finally recorded my own acoustic CD – Shining Through in Alamosa Colorado. You can give it a listen sometime at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/trujillo . At this time I was still using a guitar pick and I thought I was pretty good at it, yes delusional, but sooner or later you manifest what you think. So be careful of what you think.

From 1998 to 2008, I worked on several musical projects, started a recording studio, lost a lot of money and time, and then everything came to a screeching halt. I actually sold all my musical equipment and stopped playing music until October 2012. I lost all my direction and I forgot why I was doing music in the first place. Oh, but this is not the end of this journey. During this hiatus I did build a custom Stratocaster, and to this date I have never plugged it in. I started the build in January of 2012 and finished it in December 2012. Crazy I know.

In October of 2012 my brother invites me down Colorado to play in the Colgate Country Showdown. At this time, I do not own even an acoustic guitar, just a custom electric guitar and a ukulele I bought for one of my kids. I went down to Colorado and my brother had an acoustic guitar for me to play. Now this guitar was hard to play, like a fence post with piano strings. My fingers were screaming for mercy since I haven’t even played a guitar in years. Ouch.

Damian and GrandchildWhile I was in Colorado practicing for the country showdown I was able to listen to a few bands in the area. One particular was a bluegrass band from the east coast, do not recall their name, but they were great and they gave me an idea to start a new project. This project is called Two Roads.

I get back to Wyoming at the end of October 2012, by the first week of November 2012 I have written 12 bluegrass tunes on the ukulele. I need to buy an acoustic guitar to move my project forward. I am brain storming at this time, my mind is in a musical flurry. I hear music around every corner, I think music, I feel music. Now I have to spend money to restock my equipment to play music again. At the same time I am surfing the web, looking for online musical outlets. I was led to Street Jelly and joined the site around the end of November 2012. During this flurry I am thinking hard, that is where the finger picking madness begins. I have never been a finger picker but I need to try.

I start researching vids online about finger picking. Oh mercy! I try and I try to no avail. My fingers will not work and I cannot understand the concept of the Travis pick. I am feeling musically retarded (lack of better words). I watch and listen to hundreds of videos online closely without result. I feel sad and hopeless, like I am an old dog that cannot be taught new tricks. I need to finger pick. I actually give up after several hundred hours of trying. High expectations indeed. Yes, I live this way.

Damian Two Roads

Damian – Two Roads

By the first of December I am done with finger picking madness. I quit. Two days go by since I came to the conclusion that I cannot finger pick. Then, I sit down quietly with my guitar in my hands and BAM! I start finger picking without even thinking about it. It is almost as if I have been doing it all my life. Almost natural. In the meanwhile, I begin playing some music on Street Jelly which is a great venue for me to get this current project out to the public. I struggle with online sound for a bit (about 40 shows) and still do from time to time, but Street Jelly inspires me to press on and to never give up. My finger picking skills are developed with new music and Street Jelly shows in real time, live and online. To boldly go where no man has gone before, to seek out brave new humans to listen to music, and live with fellow artists on the wonderful world of Street Jelly. A little dramatic to say the least, but so very true in my mind.

So here I am today. I have received many compliments from listeners and viewers via Street Jelly on my finger picking skills. Several folks have been inspired by my Two Roads musical project in many ways. Inspired in ways hard to imagine. Some inspired by the musical content, some inspired by the sound, some inspired by my finger picking madness. I thank you all because I am also inspired – by you. The moral of this story: never ever give up, you can do whatever you put your mind to no matter your age. Be well on your fantastical journey and I will see you on the Street Jelly. Damian

http://www.streetjelly.com/Damian