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WebRTC and Live Streaming

What is WebRTC and how it applies to live streaming in 2017?
Subtitle – The Rise and Fall of Plugins.

By definition, WebRTC stands for “Web Real Time Communications.” Wikipedia defines it as: a collection of communications protocols and application programming interfaces that enable real-time communication over peer-to-peer connections. That makes a whole lot of sense, right? In practical terms, it means that browsers and mobile devices can talk with each other, hardware on your computer, and other websites in a gee-whiz cool new way. This improves live streaming by making it easier to access your webcam and microphone, and efficiently broadcast crisp clear video and audio across the internet. WebRTC is easier to understand by explaining what it’s not – it is NOT a plugin.

“Howdy, plugin pardner.”
When the wacky web world (www) first started, it was mainly text, with some basic images and logos to make it look pretty. The “browser” was invented to read this text. That’s all it needed to do, browse and display “pages” over the “web.” Hence, the webpage was born. By its very nature, a browser can not – and should not – do anything but read a webpage and display it to the viewer. It could not in anyway have writing capabilities or access anything on your computer. This was a major security feature built into all browsers from day one. A webpage anywhere in the world, presumably even a webpage made by nasty people, could be read. But it could not access your hard-drive and delete everything you owned. Makes sense, right?! That very basic notion of a browser being unable to access any of your hardware, webcams and microphones included, made surfing the internet safe.

In the early days of live streaming, ‘er web-camming, we had to download and install specific software onto our computers to get video to stream. Adobe’s Live Media Encoder (FMLE) was one of the originals. Most of the webcam hardware companies, on the other hand, would also include their own software to get their cams to broadcast. These proprietary bundles usually only worked peer-to-peer with another webcam from the same manufacturer and same software. Sneaky! By the way, this was all before Skype and even the first generation of cam sites. Installing specific software on your computer (remember .exe’s?) was the only way this all worked.

Then along came the brilliant idea of running a mini software program INSIDE a browser and not as stand alone software. We call these gunslingers “plugins.” They still had to be downloaded and installed, but they were a powerful solution that allowed webpages to do more than just display text and images. For us web programmers, the plugin was our hero! We could now make a webpage, and an entire website, act like a real piece of software. We could change an “application” by the next time you returned to our website, without having you to buy or download an entire new version of our software. Oh, the potential we had with the dawn of “Web 2.0.”

Adobe Flash Player was one of the first and most successful plugins for many reasons. The Flash plugin did 99% of all the work we ever wanted to do in a website application. As a programmer, why would you write your own plugin to override the video-card graphics accelerator to smoothly animate a cartoon bird? This was already written and available in Flash, for free! It made our lives much easier. And it made your life better, too. Overnight, websites were no longer static pages, but full fledged software applications. Did Flash do everything we needed for programmers? No. But for the few things we needed extra, we wrote our own tiny plugins. The beauty of it all was that the plugins we created could live side by side with the main Flash plugin that did the heavy lifting.

“This town ain’t big enough for the two of us.”
[Queue the creepy western villain whistling]
As we all enjoyed this web gold-rush of possibilities, the scoundrels out there realized how easy it was to take-over-your-computer with a plugin. After all, a plugin is real software you downloaded from God-knows-where and you gave access to everything holy inside your computer. Yikes. And yes, real exploits existed in this set up. More and more, we learned never to accept a plugin from any website that felt shady. And more and more, Adobe released version updates to make their Flash player – the head-honcho plugin of all plugins – to be safer. To this day, Adobe makes a version update on a regular monthly schedule. It’s remarkable due diligence when you think about it.

The days of the plugin are nearing an end, though. History will recycle them off into the trash heap along with 8-tracks, betamax, and transistor radios. There is a better way, it’s called WebRTC and its brother HTML5. The browser manufacturers have agreed on a common protocol where all browsers, eventually, will be able to access certain hardware on your computer (webcams and microphones in our case) in a safe and secure way. They also will be able to communicate across the internet in a safe and secure way. All this behavior will be built-in and part of the browser itself – nothing to download and install. Plugins are considered so potentially unsafe, that the browser makers agree that they will disable all use of plugins in the very near future. WebRTC has been in the making for a number of years and will replace plugins. WebRTC is currently mature enough to use in a commercial application website …in Chrome.

Wait, what? This only works in Chrome? Not exactly. Firefox and the other main browsers are right up there in implementing WebRTC / HTLM5 with all its features and security. However, the web giant Google makes Chrome. They are the leader and driving force behind this (my opinion). What they create and perfect first in Chrome, like it or not, becomes the de facto standard. StreetJelly is re-writing its broadcasting software with WebRTC first in Chrome. The Firefox configurations and settings are slightly different. We want to make sure all is running smoothly in Chrome, then we’ll tackle Firefox and the rest. In other words, we’ll be broadcasting WebRTC in Firefox, MS Edge, and Safari real soon!

Don’t roll the sunset clip yet…
What about Adobe Flash? How can it go away? Half the web still uses it! That is very true. The browser makers are making concessions to our aging hero. Chrome has already blocked all old-style plugins, but has built in their own version of Flash player internal to Chrome. Whether you refuse to download Flash from Adobe’s website or not, Chrome has its own version already on your computer. Google and Adobe are in a close relationship to make sure it’s safe. Firefox will be cutting all access to old-style plugins by 2017. It, too, will have its own internal version of Flash like Chrome. But eventually, our hero – the Adobe Flash plugin – will fade away forever.

It’s a brave new world …again.

Frank Podlaha
CEO and Founder
…and Chief Propeller-Head

Ok, now queue the sunset…

UPDATE about Firefox: As of today, 1/3/17, Firefox is at Version 50 for the general public. In Version 52, they will turn off the old style plugins (npapi). But you will still be able to turn them back on in the browser settings (type about:config in the address bar). Version 52 is scheduled to be released March 7, 2017. In Version 53, they will turn off old style plugins completely! Version 53 is scheduled for release on April 18, 2017.

First Concert – The Perfect Guide

“Member Blog Series” guest post submitted by StreetJelly memeber: Vincent Hill

First Concert – The Perfect Guide

Introduction to Holding a Concert
Going to a concert is one thing, holding a concert is totally another thing. One must understand that one of the most complex and difficult jobs is to organize and hold a concert. Consider a concert to be a 1000 pieces puzzle, and each of those jigsaw pieces must fit in properly. Here are just some of the aspects on which you must pay attention to the most.First Concert

Get Ready and Be Comfortable
All you need to do is practice well and organize your playlist for the concert. Also practice all of the songs, not just the ones you’re about to play because you’ll never know what will you feel like playing at the moment. Being comfortable is very important because if you’re not then the audience will not be as well. You want to look natural.

Practice Before Going On a Concert
As it was already suggested above, you will have to practice, a lot. Even when you think you have practiced enough, you haven’t. It’s never enough, and you need to be a perfectionist if you want to be extraordinary. Nothing is better than a band which functions like a machine. Keep up to date with music trends, the industry, software, and instruments with an online tool like MusicSkanner. This can really help you spot a problem before you go on stage.

Take Feedback from Others
Listening to what your audience has to say about you is essential to your success. Be that good or bad a critic is something that can be a great motivator. When they say good things about you, then that means you’re doing a great job, and when they talk badly about you, then you know you have to improve your performance or music.

Get To the Concert on Time
Of course, you have to get to the concert on time, because you will have to set things up and have a final rehearsal before the main event. The concert is going to start a bit late of course like always, but you would like to be on time. The audience will not respect you if you’re late.

Stay Cool in the Crowd
No matter how crazy the audience is, you must not let it mess with your brain. Stay cool and keep calm. If you lose your head, then everything will fall apart, and this is a fact. You need to focus on your performance. Get Involved and Stay Excited Your audience is everything to you. For you, they must feel like the most important thing in the world. Interact with them, communicate and listen to them. Take some pictures and throw some equipment like a guitar pick and so on. Keep your euphoria until the very end. With your music, you will easily transfer the positive energy over to your audience.

first_concert2Be Aware of the Brand
The brand of you music equipment is of the imperative. You will have to choose only those of the best quality if you want to be exceptional. Same goes for the instruments. Mind you brands!

Try To Use Social Media
The best way for you to raise awareness about the event you’re holding is to use the power of social media. That way you will reach far more people than you would usually with just flyers and posters.

To Sum Up
These are just some useful tips about how you can succeed in holding a perfect concert. Of course, there are many other things about which you must consult professionals and ask for their help.

Online Streaming Etiquette

Special guest blog by StreetJelly performer: Rewind.

A few tips on music performance etiquette.

Performance EtiquetteAside from my shows on StreetJelly, I have spent many years playing out at various venues. I thought I would share a few tips I have learned along the way from a performer’s perspective.

1. Test your gear before going live. I remember playing a show on a college campus with one of my bands. It was the middle of the day and incredibly bright. There was a big crowd, and we started with a well known cover song. Upon strumming my first chord, I realized that in the bright light, I hadn’t noticed that I accidentally tuned my guitar a half step off. There were a bunch of chords in open tunings, so I butchered it.

On StreetJelly, I ALWAYS tune my guitar and test my audio and video before going live, even if I haven’t touched anything since my last show. It’s better to have some glitchy thing happen before you’re streaming live to the world.

2. Don’t advertise competing venues at a gig. I see this a bit in physical venues as well as online. If I am playing two shows in the same town within a few weeks, I would never promote the other show at the competing venue. It’s just rude. Likewise, I wouldn’t promote shows on other streaming platforms on StreetJelly pages, including FaceBook groups, or mention them during my broadcast. On the other hand, online venues like StreetJelly are not really in competition with physical venues. So I like to promote my venue shows during a StreetJelly broadcast, and vice versa. But when I mention an upcoming StreetJelly show at a gig, I make sure everyone knows it’s online. That way I don’t end up with a grumpy bar/venue manager.

3. Talking with the audience is great, but don’t overdo it. I have a great time interacting with the audience/viewers both in physical venues and on StreetJelly. But I realize that my stories and anecdotes are only going to be interesting to a small number of viewers. At a venue, you can see this happen when people start playing with their phones and going back to the bar. But online, you can only see that your viewer numbers are dropping. Oftentimes, when I tune into a show, if I don’t hear music within the first minute or less, I’m gone!

But if you don’t engage the audience at all and don’t read their comments, it’s kinda like watching a pre-recorded video. And that gets boring fast, too.

4. Thank people when they tip you! This should be obvious. People probably aren’t tipping just to hear you say thanks, but it’s human nature to enjoy being acknowledged. I try to do this as soon as I see the tip appear on the screen so it doesn’t get lost. You can even toss a personal thank you line into the middle of your song.

5. Minimize dead air time. Don’t start streaming until you are ready to go. Think of going to see your favorite band in concert. If they came out and then just stood around not playing or talking to the audience for 10 minutes, that would be really weird. Also, don’t answer your cell phone while streaming, unless it’s an emergency. You wouldn’t do that at a venue would you?

6. The right frequency of show is different for each musician. Personally I prefer to play one or two shows a week at most. Other musicians like to play daily. If you like to play a large number of shows, I suggest to make your shows with broad appeal to entertain as many people as possible. Have a good number of songs in your repertoire to keep your performances interesting and fresh for returning fans. I believe anticipation is always a good thing.

Beef Up your Artist Profile

News – website changes coming to StreetJelly

It’s time to beef up your artist profile! We are making changes on StreetJelly to help musicians better showcase themselves. It’s going to start with updates to the homepage. We will no longer be displaying your last show’s thumbnail as your main image. Instead, we will be displaying your main profile image. Now’s the time to make it a good one. Here’s a sneak peak:

New StreetJelly Homepage

New StreetJelly Homepage

A few explanations:

  • Featured Musicians – the top section of the home page will display special events, concerts, and promotional shows.
  • Timeline – keep track of what’s going on. The timeline will display who is live, who was just on, and new artists as they join StreetJelly.
  • Live and Scheduled Shows Mosaic – this section most closely resembles the old homepage. It will continue to display all the live shows and the upcoming scheduled shows. Notice, however, it is not using the webcam snapshot, but the artists’ uploaded quality image.

Introduction of StreetJelly Levels:

Also notice in the Live and Scheduled mosaic that artists images are different sizes. StreetJelly is rolling out the concept of artist levels in its membership. The higher the membership level, the larger and better billing the musician will have. Musicians will have to work their way up to access these higher levels and the added features. Here is a brief description of what’s coming.

  • Busker Level – Everyone starts here. Create a free artist account on StreetJelly and get access right away to start making money through tips – online busking. Buskers will have access to stream via the standard Adobe Flash™ broadcaster.
  • Open Mic Level – Prove you are serious about live streaming performing and easily move up to level two. Features include broadcasting in a mobile-ready stream, in stereo, with our state of the art Jellycaster broadcasting plugin. Requirements for this level include completely filling out your artist profile, uploading a quality profile image, and completing a number of successful shows on StreetJelly. Yes, think of this as an online audition to the venue stage managers.
  • Gig Level – More features, of course. They will be great! Many of which we will release at a future date. But we can tell you now it includes streaming in HD!

Moving up the levels is by “invitation only.” Meaning, it will not be automatic. But StreetJelly will reward those who are serious about live streaming and produce high quality content.

You can get started now. Beef up your artist profile by filling out all the sections. Your fans do read your Bio!  Make it count. Don’t forget to put your full name or your band’s full name in the text. This will help Google and any search engines find your info. Do add links to your profile to your own webpage, YouTube, Facebook, etc. This will help your fans find your music. And last, and possibly the most important, upload a quality profile image of yourself. Make sure you are centered in the image, it will look best that way. The most successful image is a portrait of the musician, preferably holding a guitar/instrument.

Stay tuned, more features and updates are coming to StreetJelly – the best place for live streaming musicians on the web!

Are You Prepared?

Are you Prepared… at a moments notice to promote your music and advance your career?

Hello there, this is Frankie, CEO and founder of StreetJelly. I had the privilege recently to listen to a number of original recordings submitted to us that we are passing along to a local indie radio station, WPVM The Voice, in Asheville, NC. We put the call out for submissions in an e-mail to StreetJelly artists last month. Literally within hours, we had tons of music to sift through. There is A LOT of talent on StreetJelly, and we received tons of great songs. But here is one overwhelming observation that became apparent. Not all, but many fired off an unprepared and somewhat unprofessional response.
Are you prepared?Now, I’m not here to point fingers or single anyone out, but I want to raise the notion how prepared one should be when any opportunity comes knocking for your career (music or otherwise). Anytime in life when someone, some business, or even some alien offers a helping hand – make the most of that situation without becoming a burden to every one offering the helping hand!

In our invitation for original music to pass along to the radio station, we had a few specific requests. The main request was to send us up to three songs. Yet, we received numerous responses that came in the form of: “here’s a bunch of my stuff on xyz.com website. Pick whatever you like.”

It’s already tons of work for the StreetJelly staff to gather all these songs, listen to them, and package them off as a favor to another entity. Any extra time and effort just slows the entire process for everyone and will likely lead to your songs not being included.

I believe as a musician capable of writing wonderful original material, you should be prepared to showcase, market, feature, sell, and/or distribute your content to any and all entities that can further your career.  Here are some pro-tips we’ve come up with:

  1. Have all your music ranked by you in order of importance and genre. If someone ask for your “3 best acoustic songs,” pick the three you already have ranked. If they ask for 7, or 10, or 13 – you have that list ready.
  2. NEVER ask someone else to pick and choose your music. At best, that’s an indirect way to try and get someone to listen to your entire catalog. But if whatever song the listener starts with does not match what they’re looking for, there is a good chance they will never listen to (or promote) any of your music.
  3. Have all your original music professionally recorded and mixed (can still be done by you if you have a quality home studio), ready in multiple file formats (.mp3, .wav, etc).  MP3’s are the easiest way to send through e-mail as they are reasonable in size. Many e-mail systems limit attachment sizes (typically above 10megs) and will reject or fail e-mails with huge files (this generally applies to WAV or raw digital files). And WAV files are more true to the original recording, for when audio quality is of utmost importance.
  4. Have the same music available online to download from one of the major cloud share vendors; such as Dropbox or OneDrive.
  5. DO NOT send someone to an obscure website that forces you to create a login account, fight through tons of ads and questionable creepy popups, just to get to your music. (Yes, that happened to us. Horrible experience.)
  6. DO NOT send someone to a streaming site like Spotify, SoundCloud, or your own website with a streaming plugin to get your music. These sites are specifically made to stream and generally have no feature to download a quality un-compressed version.
  7. DO NOT send someone to iTunes, Amazon, etc. to purchase your songs so they can then turn around and help you promote your music.  That’s just wrong.
  8. DO have your website, EPK, and online presence (Facebook fan page, etc.) ready to go at ALL TIMES. If any of these items are not ready – you are not ready to present yourself to the music industry. As soon as you ask someone to listen to your music, assume they will (or whomever they pass your music on to will) look you up on any and every website they can find. They will pass over your entry when it is incomplete.

I’m being a bit harsh, but I am nowhere near as tough as any music label or A&R will ever be. Lack of preparedness suggests that the musician does not take their music career seriously and may not be professional enough for the service or promotion it takes to launch a successful music career.

Deliver a Hit Performance – The Guide

How to deliver a hit performance on an online stage. This is your StreetJelly Guide to getting started and enjoying the creation of memorable e-concerts.

MartinaSpecial guest blog by StreetJelly’s co-founder, Martina.
“Here are helpful tips for live streaming musical performances based on feedback and suggestions from StreetJelly musicians, viewers, and staff.”

Music is a beautiful addition to the lives of millions of people around the world. Modern technology allows us to reach audiences we were never able to reach several years ago. An online streaming music service is a venue much like any conventional venue which unites musical performers and viewers in one place. Just like traditional performances, an online show should be considered that, a real show. Let me explain in detail why viewers prefer certain performances over others.

Positive headline
It all starts with a positive headline. A positive headline will attract viewers to your show. It does not have to be super witty and the catch-all phrase of the century. Keep it simple with uplifting words, and let it explain the type of performance and music genre. Negative headlines, like “I’m bored,” are not appealing! They will instantly result in turning viewers away from your performance.

Inviting and clean performance space
Regardless where your webcam is pointing, your are setting a stage for your show. Depending on your performance style, it can be anything from a casual corner in your home to a professionally decorated stage in a concert hall. Individual musicians and fans enjoy different types of shows. No matter the style of your stage, make it appealing to the viewers. Remove trash, clutter, dirty laundry, or anything from the camera that is a distraction. Double-check your image in the broadcast window. Your performance is greatly enhanced by a pleasant, neat surrounding. Many viewers truly appreciate the effort put into a well crafted stage. It will be the center of their attention and often result in increased tips or loyal followers.

Fill out your profile
Once you caught the viewers’ attention, your audience will be interested in finding out more about you. Make it easy for them to get that information by filling out your StreetJelly profile. Don’t forget to add links to your website, Facebook fan page, YouTube videos, and so on. Viewers will look you up at their convenience. Add your full name to your Bio, as well. This will help in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and let viewers find you from Google and Bing.

No dead space during the performance
Prepare a show. Viewers appreciate the fact that some musicians can fulfill random requests. But generally, viewers enjoy a well prepared performance more. If you unexpectedly walk away from your show for extended periods of time and all your audience sees is an empty chair, it will result in losing viewers. Do not pause for more than a few minutes. If you have to take a longer break, end your show and tell the viewers you will return at a later time.

Put on a show, not a practice session
StreetJelly is a music performance site. Although we welcome performers with various skill levels, please do not use StreetJelly as a practicing platform. If your practice session is essentially identical to a performance and you consider it suitable for broadcasting, don’t label it as “only practicing.” (See “Positive headline” above.) This directs viewers to other performers who put on a well planned show.

Stage

“Flies” are Ok
StreetJelly gives viewers the option to chat during a performance, or to watch silently without logging in by name. We welcome both kinds of listeners. We call the viewers who don’t interact “Flies,” like a fly listening on the wall. Many regular viewers alternate between those two modes depending on where they are watching from, or their momentary listening preference. Some viewers prefer to remain anonymous all the time, some occasionally. We offer a guest tipping option for them, too, in case they wish to tip a musician and stay anonymous.

No official time limit on shows
Generally, a performance from 1 to 1½ hours appears to be very popular with viewers. We have several performers who put on longer shows with great success. It is up to each performer to choose how long and when they want to play. Any musician can pick a time and length of show convenient for him or her. StreetJelly has a wonderful community of supportive and respectful members. But every now and then, an individual musician will try to force his or her personal view (and time-slot) unto others about performance times, show durations, and so on. If you have any questions about this, please contact us at support@streetjelly.com.

No recordings
We do not allow playing full recorded music as karaoke or background accompaniment. This is a licensing issue and we ask you to follow this rule. In case we detect a violation of this policy, we reserve the right to shut down any performance. We do allow “backtracks.” Consider a backtrack recording as adding an extra instrument or two to your performance. Many musicians create their own original backtracks ahead of time.

Fill out your playlist
StreetJelly pays the licensing cover fees to various songwriter associations (BMI, ASCAP, etc.). Please fill out your playlist to ensure an accurate distribution of royalties. Maintaining your playlist repertoire will help you plan out your next show, too.

Don’t steal viewers from another performer’s show
Many musicians work hard to build their audience. Please do not go into an ongoing show and ask viewers to watch you instead. Committing this social faux-pas will instantly raise the eye-brows of both viewers and fellow musicians. They will boycott your show, guaranteed!

PG 13
Please keep your language suitable to a “PG 13” movie. We try to provide a pleasant environment for ALL our viewers and ensure an enjoyable experience for the majority of StreetJelly members. Read more about this topic: What is a Family Friendly Site?

Music can improve our daily lives on so many levels. It unites people, helps many of us through difficult times, or simply entertains us. We would like to thank everyone who visits this online venue and shares our passion for music and music lovers.

Martina
StreetJelly co-founder

SJ Busking Blog – Basement Busking Advice

Special guest blog by StreetJelly performer: Rewind.
SJ Busking Blog – Basement Busking Advice.

Rewind

Rewind

Years ago I used to busk on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado. It was a great way to get my music in front of a wider audience as well as make some extra money. Some days I would earn just a few bucks, and others I would come home with a lot more. StreetJelly is the closest thing to an online version of busking I have found. Call it basement busking. I learned a lot of performance tips during my time busking, and many of those are relevant to online busking from the basement. We recently had the chance to take StreetJelly on the road and travel to Asheville, NC to talk with the Asheville Busker’s Collective. I thought it would be a good time to go ahead and publish a blog post on some of these basement busking tips I learned from my Pearl Street days.

•    Be prepared. I would never think of playing a song in front of a group of people while busking if I didn’t know the song well. Learn the lyrics if it’s a cover song and know which key you are going to play the song in. Bring a cheat sheet as a backup. If you know you are going to play a song that you need a cheat sheet for in advance, look it up online and keep a separate window open on your computer that you can quickly switch to. Have a set list planned out in advance. It’s not a problem to stray from your set list, but it can help you if you get stuck trying to remember what the heck you were going to play.

•    Minimize the time you spend in between each song. If you have a story to tell about the song, that’s fine, but it’s best to keep it brief. When you’re busking, most people are walking by, and you have a short stretch of time to catch their attention. This is true of basement busking, too. If someone pops into your show, and you are tuning for a long time or spending lots of time figuring out what song to do next, chances are good that person will leave your show and go check out something else.

Shop Light•    Don’t wait for requests. It’s human nature that people connect to songs they already know and like, so lots of musicians throw cover songs into their set to maintain crowd interest. You can ask your audience if they have any requests. But if they don’t answer quickly, don’t wait around until they do. Chances are good you won’t know it, and most of the time the viewers just want to hear whatever you want to play.

•    Location, location, location. For anyone who has ever busked outside, you know how crucial location can be. With online busking, your location is often wherever in your house you set up; basement, living room, garage, and so on. Before you broadcast, look at how your performance will look to your viewers. Is the lighting good? You’d be amazed at what a lamp or a shop light duct taped to a mic stand can do. Is there a bunch of junk in the background that distracts from your performance? Maybe change locations or put up a backdrop. I made a cheap frame out of PVC pipe and hung a blanket over it when I had to broadcast from a room that had a lot of other stuff going on.PVC Frame

If you have any other basement busking tips, share them in the comments section below.

Simple Stereo Broadcasting by Bill Hall

Special guest blog by StreetJelly performer: Bill Hall.
Thoughts on the new StreetJelly.com “Jellycaster” stereo broadcasting process (and optional simple stereo set up).

Bill HallOverview:
The StreetJelly.com stereo broadcasting system nicknamed “Jellycaster” not only supports stereo broadcasting but it supports such broadcasting in exceptional high fidelity. I believe it is as good or better than you will have available on any other streaming sites. On StreetJelly, we have a very varied group of performers with different ways of presenting their music and all will benefit from this excellent available sound process.

For example: Some musicians add pre-recorded stereo background tracks from commercially available software programs such as “band in a box” or even separate drum machines. Some performers like adding effects such as reverb, chorus and vocal harmonizers. All can be done with varying amounts of complexity and all can sound great when heard via the Jellycaster.

My own simple stereo set up:
In my particular case, I use two microphones in a simple stereo setup called an XY configuration (described well in the Shure stereo microphone tutorial link below). I set up the microphones about chin level and two feet away to pick up my guitar and vocal as one stereo signal. Please note: I am by no means saying it is the best way to go but it just works for me and is simple to set up for acoustic musicians/singers. It also is a very pure stereo signal.

Getting a simple stereo set-up into the computer:
Some choices for transferring this type of simple stereo broadcasting into the computer are: 1) Use a USB audio interface, containing some good mic pre-amps and good analog to digital converters (Mackie, M-Audio, Pre-sonus and other companies produce these). They are now relatively inexpensive A simple two channel version is about $100-$200 U.S.. 2) Use one of the nice USB stereo microphones available today for a reasonable price, or 3) Buy a small format USB mixer that has at least two channels equipped with simple one knob compressors and effects (most importantly reverb).

My recommended option:
For the simple type of stereo set up as described herein, I recommend option 3). It gets you all the basic variables that are most important for good sound. Companies such as Yamaha, Behringer, and Samson make stereo USB mixers for $100-$200 U.S. equipped as described herein. This allows you to to apply some reverb for a little ambiance to all Channels (usually 4-12 in small format mixers). That said, all you need for an XY set up are two channels with a little stereo reverb and some simple compression (to make the overall sound a little fuller and tame the peaks a bit).
Below, is a link to Samson’s YouTube video describing their models just to give a nice idea of the essential features. Note: all the brands have nice microphone pre-amps on these models nowadays.

Summary:
Again, this is just a recommendation for getting there simply. More elaborate set-ups will sound wonderful on the Jellycaster as well. Contact me if you want any help setting up such a simple system at billhall@billhall.us

Thanks to Frankie and Martina for getting this great Stereo option in place.
Bill

Shure Website – Stereo microphone configuration (see XY)
http://www.shure.co.uk/support_download/educational_content/microphones-basics/stereo_microphone_techniques

Samson on YouTube – good simple video included on their small format stereo mixers

Streaming Great Sound, Quick and Easy, at Live Venues

This past week, we had an opportunity to broadcast two live shows from different venues.  First, our own Rewind had a Friday night gig down at the SawWorks Brewing Company in Knoxville’s “Old City.”  Then, on Saturday, we broadcasted the Hundred Acres band on stage at Sound Biscuit studios.  Each broadcast was different, but with some very simple equipment set ups, the sound and streaming came out crisp and clear.

The Night Club / Pub Gig

Most musicians will eventually find themselves performing at night clubs, cafés, open mics, etc.  Rewind, a StreetJelly and local Knoxville musician, performed a Friday night show in the confines of a typical brew-pub.  The venue was an industrial warehouse converted to gentrified hipster hangout (just kidding, it’s a very nice place with super nice people).  It was a last minute decision and permission from the owner to broadcast on StreetJelly.  With ten minutes to go before the show started, we fired up the laptop, plugged in our regular webcam, and pulled out a new-in-box Blue Yeti USB microphone.

First, a brief description of the live music and venue.  Rewind and band mate, Thad Bissett, were set up with typical gear: two guitars, mics, foot pedals, mixer board, two PA speakers (one for the room and one as a monitor).  The room size fit a half-dozen large round tables, a bar that ran the length of one wall, and a counter / register area by the front door.  About 25 people were present at the time. It was probably not the best space, however, for producing live music: concrete floors, brick/cinder-block walls, and an exposed metal truss ceiling.  Anyway, Rewind and Thad had their gear set up sounding good for the room.SawWorks

For the StreetJelly broadcast, we unwrapped the Blue Yeti and connected the USB into the laptop.  (No software applications were running at the time, no browsers, and no connection to SJ.)  The installation software already exists within the mic.  So when connecting the USB cord, the Blue Yeti installs itself.  The installation took only a few seconds, and the laptop did NOT need to be rebooted.  We opened up a browser (Firefox), navigated to StreetJelly, and everything was ready to go the first try.  (I’m still amazed how easy this worked.)  We placed the mic about 10 ~ 12 ft from the stage, and set its selector position to bi-directional stereo.  Basically, that means the two internal condenser mics pick up sound at 180° apart.  On the mic, we set the gain around 1/4 from the lowest setting.  On StreetJelly, we set the sound input around 1/3.  That’s it!  Really, that was it.  Sound was very clean with no distortions, pops, or clicks.Blue Yeti

 

The Stage Gig

Next up was broadcasting a 6-piece band, called Hundred Acres.  This was a full professional stage set up in a large corrugated metal building, with half the side opened to the outside.  The space held a 100+ guests inside and out.  Sound Biscuit is a professional recording studio, so needless to say there were more mics, cables, speakers, spot lights, and cool stuff that one could count in any single glance.  Oddly enough, however, the main sound board did not have an extra stereo feed out.  It was already being used for something else.Sound Biscuit board

Our solution was to place two (cheapo) dynamic mics close to the main PA speakers from the stage.  Again, we always recommend going for the simplest set up for streaming on StreetJelly.  You can see in the pics, we placed each mic around 18″ from the center of the PA.  Note: make sure you place the distance of each mic from the PA the same for each channel.  This will make balancing the channels later much easier.Left Right Mics

We plugged in the two mics’ XLR connectors into our Alesis USB Multi-mixer.  This device then plugs into our laptop via USB and gets recognized as any common sound input device to the computer.  We have used the Alesis many times on this laptop broadcasting on SJ, so the computer already was configured for this.  We did have to tweak the gain and output levels on the mixer, but nothing out of the ordinary.  Phantom power was turned off.Alesis

Again, it was a very simple set up to broadcast: two dynamic mics shoved close to the main PA speakers, the USB mixer, and the same Logitech webcam we always use.  The sound streamed extremely well.

Verifying the Output

When you are broadcasting a live show, it’s always tricky to know exactly how well it sounds over the internet.  Listening to headphones from your computer or from the mixer’s main-out is virtually impossible to give a good indication.  The sound in the room almost always overpowers the headphones.  Yes, asking the audience “how does it sound?” is extremely important.  But sometimes the best way to check is to check yourself.  In both broadcasts, we took our mobile phones outside (way outside), plugged in good studio headphones into our phones, and watched the actual StreetJelly broadcast ourselves for a true sound check.  It’s the only way to know for sure.

A Word about WiFi
Jetpack Mifi

In both cases, we used our Verizon Mifi / Jetpack device to connect to the internet.  It’s 4g capable and almost always streams well for StreetJelly shows.  But in both cases, especially in the industrial warehouse gig, the wifi signal cut out a few times.  It was very brief, but enough to cause the stream to buffer.  Next time, we would really like to get a dedicated wired internet connection from the venues.

To recap, keep your configuration as simple as possible.  In our scenarios, the show’s sound was separate from broadcasting.  Let the musicians and sound engineers do what they do best.  Then, capture that sound from your own mics for your broadcast.

Happy Streaming!