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Fighting WebRTC Audio Sync Issues

Fighting WebRTC Audio Sync Issues
Subtitle:  Mainly with Chrome

Audio Sync issues are when the audio and video get out of “lip-sync.”  The sound does not line up with what you see.  Many folks call it a “lag.”  (We also have heard people call it a “latency” problem, but that is an incorrect description.)  This problem can happen with any broadcasting software, but it appears to happen more often on Chrome streaming with WebRTC.  This does not mean, “Firefox is better than Chrome,” or any one browser is superior.  We are only saying this one specific problem happens to a few broadcasters while on Chrome.

The guts of how WebRTC streams, also known as the encoder, processes the audio and video separately. They are streamed separately, they travel across the internet separately, and it is your computer at home that has to put it back together in-sync.  When a moment in time of the audio and video are sent across the internet too far apart from one another, the result is audio that does not match video.  That’s just the way it works!

Processing audio is easy from a computer’s point of view, there is less data to manage.  Video, on the other hand, takes massive amount of data and processing to produce a video signal.  The CPU (central processing unit) of the computer, a.k.a. the brain, can only handle so many calculations at one time.  When there is too much data to process when streaming, it is generally the video that gets processed slower than the audio.

The result: the audio is encoded first, and the video lags behind.  Look closely at a sync problem broadcast – you will almost always hear the sound / voice first, then witness the video catch up.

How to fix this problem?  Start by understanding that anything that can free up your computer’s CPU from tasks, or reduce the amount of video data to process, will help:

  • Make sure your browser is running the latest version. We will say this a 1,000 times… it’s very important with WebRTC to be on the latest version because the browser makers release significant changes with each new release.  To check / update Firefox or Chrome, go to Help >> About.
  • Turn off any software running on your computer you do not need for streaming.  Anything to free up your CPU will help.  Close multiple browser windows and tabs, close music recording software, close any games and video intensive software, and so on.  And close dang Facebook!
  • Choose 4:3 SD (standard def) streaming on StreetJelly.  Obviously, 720p HD takes way more CPU cycles to stream.
  • Adjust your webcam to the lowest decent quality.  Your webcam may be set at very high HD settings. The encoder then has to convert that video to lower quality for streaming.  That takes a lot of CPU power to do that.  In the hardware settings for your camera (not on StreetJelly):
    • Match the screen size of the webcam to the screen size chosen for broadcasting on StreetJelly.  For example: 640 x 480
    • Set the frame rate (if available) to 15fps, frames per second.  The WebRTC encoder defaults to 15fps, so it will get converted anyway.
    • Set quality (if available) to medium, or somewhere around 80%.  Different webcam vendors approach this setting differently, but the key is to dial it off the very top, but don’t go all the way to the bottom.
  • Remove any webcam effects from your broadcast.  This includes extra graphics embedded into the video (snowflakes, alien heads, swirly do-dahs, etc). All these require massive CPU processing to generate.
  • Remove any lighting effects in your home studio.  Yes, we mean swirly lights in your room in the real world.  This affects compression. The more areas within your video frame that do not change over time, the more your video gets compressed into smaller data chunks.  This reduces the amount of bandwidth needed to stream and process.
  • In your computer’s video settings (at the hardware level):  make sure any “hardware acceleration” settings are turned on.  I’m sure that sounds vague, but there are far too many video card drivers, manufacturers, scenarios, etc. to write about in a single blog.  The key here is to maximize the CPU and GPU (graphics processing unit) settings.
  • Get a faster computer! 🙂

UPDATE APRIL 19th, 2017

So we know Chrome can be a CPU hog, and these issues can get the audio out of sync.  One thing to try – and definitely check – is the Chrome “use hardware acceleration” setting.  Hardware Acceleration is a feature on most computers to use the GPU (graphics processing unit) for video processing. In Chrome, this can be controlled with an Advanced Setting called:  “Use hardware acceleration when available.”

Normally, this setting should be checked.  Check it now with these instructions:  http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/how-to/internet/how-turn-off-gpu-hardware-acceleration-in-google-chrome-3605455/

For some with audio sync issues, UNCHECKING this setting may help.  It’s not a guarantee, but worth a try.  Sometimes a computer’s video card drivers could be out of whack (I literally had that problem with an old Lenevo laptop).  Using software to process the video software can possibly fix (or avoid) a hardware issue.

For a bit more detail about Chrome and Hardware Acceleration, here’s another nice article:  https://www.lifewire.com/hardware-acceleration-in-chrome-4125122

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.

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!

IAAM Radio

Special guest blog by IAAM Radio DJ Taz. I keep in touch with our friends at It’s All About Music – IAAM Radio and the tireless work they do promoting Indie artists. I asked fellow U.S. Army trooper, Johnathan Hurwitz, a.k.a. DJ Taz, to share with us how IAAM came to be. Enjoy! ~Frankie

DJ Taz - Johnathan Hurwitz

DJ Taz – Johnathan Hurwitz

In early 2009 I served as a moderator on a drum forum and thought, why not start a forum about music with an emphasis on Indie artists. I really enjoyed it and then I met DJ Anubis from Hordes of Chaos via Metal Tavern Radio. He got me into internet broadcasting and so in 2010, Its All about Music – IAAM Radio was born. Now keep in mind, this is not my day job. It’s always been a hobby. My real job is no secret, I’m an Officer in the US Army. I have deployed several times and when I do, others have kept IAAM Radio running like my good friend DJ Anubis.

In 2010 we went full bull, Shoutcast Servers with unlimited storage and bandwidth, 24×7 streaming with programed play and it was fun, at first. Costs for what we had then to operate annually was just about $700. I paid for most of this out pocket. We tried various advertisement gimmicks but we wanted the ads to show on a noninterference basis, so the user experience on the web site was not hampered. The demand for our service was very high with bands sending us tracks to feature and listenership was up, but the dollars for support just did not come in. Sadly I was ready to call it a day. Then in 2013 DJ Anubis told me he switched to Podcasting and seemed to enjoy it more. After doing some homework, I drew up a new plan for IAAM.

IAAM RadioIn 2014 IAAM changed from a 24×7 stream to a Podcast and we had something a bit different. We decided to record the shows in Video. There are lots of internet radio stations out there but very few offer a live video feed of what they are doing. We revamped the web site, kept the name and put out a funding campaign to cover the cost of the site, its servers, and our url: www.iaamradio.rocks. Low and behold we raised the $350 required in about a month. Being upfront with our fans, when we hit that amount we told everyone, now some would say why, you could have raised more… True, but at that point all we required was the $350 and we wanted to establish ourselves as trustworthy. Though buying a new sports car and private island did come to mind, we decided nah. We also love to plug business and services that we find outstanding like www.StreetJelly.com The Jelly is awesome, a great place for any artist to perform. I love your site all kinds of talent with live bands streaming their shows to bedroom guitarists. The entire concept at StreetJelly is amazing. Folks have a great time there. I even performed a few times and enjoyed the experience.

You asked me what type of shows does IAAM have? We have three segments, Cool Breeze – Jazz, R&B, Soul and more. Indie Atonal – Pure Raw Indie Bands and The Blender – everything under the kitchen sink. What is neat about Cool Breeze and The Blender is we Feature Indie Bands with mainstream. We have had many listeners ask, who is that band? More than when we do Indie Atonal alone. We took a risk on this and it works well for the bands. We also list every band with a link to their sites so fans can support them directly. Many listeners of our podcast have purchased music directly from the bands we feature and I know the artists appreciate it. When we are live, we social shotgun blast across Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter that we are airing. Not just a band name and track but we actually cross link the artists on our social feeds with hashtags, and such so people see a snippet from their pages.

You asked me how do we choose what Indie Bands to feature? Simple, on our site we have an About Section. In short we are not Pay to Play, there are some Podcasters and 24×7 streams that do that, we don’t. All we ask is the band send us a shout out. We listen to their music and let them know we like it and if they send us tagged tracks with a shout out they are in, regardless of genre. The shout outs are used when we are live right before we feature a track. They are also used when we do Auto DJ. On our site we have a video and chat area where we re-broadcast our shows or simply run every Indie track we have at random. This is not a Shoutcast stream, the server simply hosts what we put in the player. Many get us confused with a 24×7 Internet Stream but we remind them we are a podcast.

Having fun with DJ Taz - Live!

Having fun with DJ Taz – Live!

Big Up to the Artists/Bands who sent us posters, items to give away etc. We know it’s tough for bands to break even and when we receive such items we are truly appreciative. Forgot to mention, we even have video shout outs and those are cool. We post those on the site with a full bio of the band, links to their material and social feeds etc. Fans have sent us shout outs as well, who can’t love those. Some have asked if we would add back the Shoutcast 24×7 stream? Tough question, and it seems for now no due to cost and time.

We also share other Podcaster’s shows like DJ Anubis’. If you love pure raw metal, Indie and mainstream, you must check his show out at http://djanubisreviews.blogspot.com/

You asked what is in store for the future? So far we are still having fun. Jan 1 2016 is our sixth year, hard to believe. As we get older, time and interests may change but for now so long as I have the time I will keep doing the shows. I’m not a prolific DJ. I don’t have that voice you can’t get enough of. I do have a passion for music, love to have a beer during the show and chatting with folks in the chat room while we are live. Taking requests is always fun and once in a while we even do live interviews or let people call in to say hello and be part of the show. My wife is super, she supports me and knows I enjoy it so much. My kids like it as well, I have had them on a few times, DJ Mini Taz and DJ Mini Mini Taz, lol.

Any advice for Indie Bands? Yes, always Tag Your Tracks (Band Name, Title, Artist, Album Name if EP put EP in there…), update your social feeds, even drop an update on feeds that support you so you get seen. Never ever attack mainstream. Why? Most if not all mainstream started out at one time or another as an Indie artist, so don’t be a hater. Hate the corporate machine if you like but in the end if your goal is to strike a deal and sign, then you too have just become mainstream. We have a few Indie bands that are Grammy nominees, signed and doing very well. What is neat about them is they still visit us and we really appreciate that. Lastly don’t be a hopper, pick a few good podcasts and/or Internet Stations and be loyal to them and they will do so in return. Just because you send out your tracks to 100s of places does not mean you are getting featured. There are online casters who have 1000s of Indie tracks sent to them and that means you are 1 in 1000s. We have 124 bands so far, that is just under 2,000 tracks of Indie we feature and yea we rotate them or play them if by request. We have a system that helps keep track of when we last featured a band. With 1000s that can get real hard to manage. If we ever got that big, we would have to re-look how we run the place. In the end, send away but at least pick a few and keep in touch with them.

What’s up with your mantra? Ah Keep it Real and Stay Crazy! Well that is me and my real job can be tense at times so it’s always good to step back and just take things in when you can. Be who you are, keep things real and let your hair down, have some fun i.e. stay crazy. On that note, thanks for having me, catch you on the playground.

-DJ Taz

Jonathan Hurwitz

The Power of Music Playlists

I had the pleasure last month of being a guest speaker at the Nashville 2015 Music Technology and Futures Summit. There, I saw a fascinating presentation by Jay Frank, CEO of DigSin music publishing. His talk was about the disruption of the market caused by Spotify. The article below is not a defense of Spotify, nor does it get into the controversy of streaming royalties, musician payout percentages, etc. It is about how the old ways are just that, old. Read on.
~Frank Podlaha, CEO StreetJelly.com

The Power of Music Playlists

Part One – The New Way People Listen to Music!

Playlists

Playlists

Guess what? Few people are searching for new music out there on the internet! Streaming music services like Spotify are transforming how everyday people consume music. “Playlists” are the new aggregators of music and delivery of entertainment.

A playlist is exactly what you think it is. It’s a collection of your favorite songs. Back in the 80s, we called them mix-tapes. Same thing. Unlike radio, or other music catalogs, playlists are not necessarily organized by music genres. Playlists can consist of any song you like. Heck, it’s your collection – add whatever list of songs you are in the mood for!

Two decades after my mix-tapes, we all learned how to make playlists on our iPods and portable mp3 devices. Now, online services like Spotify have taken that concept and tied it into a streaming service with the social component of sharing playlists among friends. Nothing really surprising about all that, yet. Here’s the amazing part, Spotify has stumbled upon a fundamental difference how the modern listener consumes his or her music.

Overwhelmingly, people do not search music sites trying to discover new music. Yes, when they will first sign up for a streaming service, they will search and create playlists of their favorite bands and soloists. But most consumers eventually signup or “follow” public playlists curated by others. On Spotify, anyone can create a playlist and share it publicly with the whole world. Playlists themselves get ranked in popularity. Those in the Top 50 playlists have 100,000s and even millions of followers.

Playlists are popular because they are not categories by music genres. Instead, they have become popular because they group music in how we emotionally enjoy music.

  1. Mood. So often we flip around the old radio because one station may not match our mood on each song. Sometimes you want Sunday afternoon chill music, or perhaps it’s an evening of love songs, or quick happy pop songs to get you through a long day at work. There is a playlists for each one of those in this new world.
  2. Activities. Getting ready to workout? Put on that techno-beat playlist. Going out on a Friday night, there’s a party dance mix playlist for that.
  3. Time of Day. Our daily schedules also dictate how we feel and what we may need to listen to. That drive-time commute to work each day requires a different playlist of songs to the same drive home in the afternoon. I can’t listen to hard rockin’ metal right before I go to sleep – it’s mellow music time for me.

The millions of users on Spotify generally subscribe to the popular public playlists to listen to the majority of their music. They are NOT searching for new music, and they are NOT purchasing the ownership of music. This is how playlists are changing the very nature of the music industry.

Part Two – Disruption in the Market

Online Music PurchaseOnce upon a time, we purchased music to own. We ran to the record store on new-release day to plop down $10, $15, whatever for our favorite band’s album. If you think of it, however, it was a risky purchase. We buy a dozen songs on that album, but in reality we probably only liked 3 or 4. Plus, we paid our money up front to listen to that music once, a few dozen times, or a few 100,000 times. We took the risk, not the record labels.

When the 99¢ download came out, not much really changed. Yes, we could buy one song and not an entire album of songs for 3 or 4 we liked. But we still had no expectation that we would listen to that one song for decades, or get tired of it after a few weeks. Is the value of a song still the same if we enjoy it 25 times or 2,500 times? Should an artist get compensated more if you play it more?

As consumers, we no longer have to take that risk. With music streaming services, we never actually purchase ownership of that music. We pay only for the momentary rental while we consume that stream. We pay through subscriptions or by listening to advertisers. But unlike radio, we control what we listen to. The musician makes his or her money over time, not all at once with an album sale.

When any market goes through a significant change in how its products are purchased, and when and what moods persuade a purchase; we label that change a disruptive technology.  Entrepreneurs like myself love disruptive technologies. The old businesses who do not embrace that technology, do not last very long.

Part Three – How to Take Advantage of Streaming Services

Yes, you can make money and become successful on Spotify and streaming services. The answer, you guessed it, get your music listed in popular playlists. According to Jay Frank of DigSin, music streaming royalties are significantly higher to any song once it gets listed in popular playlists!

I am not touching the controversy of how much a cut Spotify takes. But an amazing fact has surfaced that new, independent artists can easily make more money on services like Spotify than superstars on that same service. This secret may not last forever, but knowing this now can help boost any music career.

The interesting thing about playlists is that they can be created and managed by anyone. Some of the most followed playlists on Spotify are owned by everyday people who meticulously maintain their songs. How do you get listed in these playlists? The old fashion way, you gotta ask. Nicely!

The playlist owners of today are like the radio DJs of yesteryear. You have to sweet talk them into playing your music. I know, that’s a lot easier said than done. But with a little homework and interpersonal skills, you should be able to get listed in someone’s public playlist. Here are some tips.
Spotify

  • Get to know the playlist owner. “Follow” them on Spotify.
  • Look them up in other social media platforms and make friends with them there.
  • Don’t stalk them! (I know, I had to say that)
  • Learn what type of music they like and fill their playlists with. Don’t expect a classical jazz enthusiast to add your heavy metal EDM fusion tracks to their playlist.
  • Don’t spam playlist owners. Junk mail in any form is still junk mail.
  • Introduce yourself, be helpful, be friendly.
  • Finally, ask politely to include your song in their playlists. These are people, or companies run by people. Treat them as you wanted to be treated if you were in their shoes receiving a 1,000 requests a day.

At StreetJelly, we are also trying to embrace this disruptive technology. We are learning how to network and engage these playlist owners for ourselves. And, we have created our own playlist for StreetJelly musicians, click here. Remember, anyone can create a playlist! So please, help us grow our playlist to zillions of followers. No reason why our musicians can not benefit from more stream plays and royalties.

Become a user on Spotify and follow the StreetJelly playlist. They do have a free-level of membership. If you are a musician and have music on Spotfiy, please send us a message at: support@streetjelly.com, or share your song with us directly within their website (find us under Spotify username “StreetJelly”). We will include up to 3 songs from any of our regularly performing musicians in our playlist.

Who knows where this technology journey takes us? But we won’t sit back and let it pass by!  ~Frankie

Upgrade Your Flash Version

We are upgrading our broadcaster software to use Flash version 11.4 or higher.

Adobe Flash SoftwareBackground:  The StreetJelly broadcaster software uses Flash Media Live Encoder (FMLE) for streaming.  This all happens automatically for musicians on StreetJelly behind the scenes.  Most websites use this technology for streaming, as well.  Many times, people cringe when they hear “Flash” website.  They think of those tacky animations from 10 years ago.  We do not use any part of that, but only the FMLE portion to connect to ones camera and microphone.

The FMLE comes as part of the Flash software installed on most desktops: Windows, Apple Macbook, etc.  It is typically not available for mobile devices: Android phones and tablets no longer support Flash, and iPhone/iPads never supported it.

Currently:  The StreetJelly broadcasting page for musicians uses features in the FMLE that require a minimum of Flash v10.3 or higher.  We have been at this version for some time to accommodate a few stragglers who may have trouble with older audio equipment.  This version produces a stream format, however, that can only be viewed by other Flash devices.  Hence, StreetJelly can only be viewed easily on desktops with Flash.  It’s much more complicated to view performances with other devices without 3rd party software, side-jacking, etc.

The Upgrade:  We are upgrading the musician’s broadcasting page with features found in FMLE v11.4 (or higher) that will use newer and improved streaming formats.  Specifically, we’re moving to an mp4 h.264 codec.  This will allow StreetJelly to transmit in mp4 (h.264 + aac) to mobile devices.  Yes, this is part of a larger project to build mobile apps of StreetJelly!

So what should I do?  Probably nothing.  Most everyone has Flash installed on their computers to automatically update (its default setting).  The current Flash version is v12.0.0 (March 2014).  Click this link to see what version of Flash you have installed.  Only a few folks may have turned off the auto-update to keep them at a specific older version.  This is most likely due to newer Flash versions not being compatible with older microphone equipment and sound drivers.  To that point, those folks need to take a systematic approach to upgrading.  They should install the highest version they can that still works with their equipment.  Below are some links to get started.

Links

To install the latest version of Flash:
http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/

To install older versions of Flash:
http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/otherversions/  Choose “click here for older versions…” below on that page.

StreetJelly Test Flash 11 page (musician account only):
http://www.StreetJelly.com/test_flash11

Contact us if you have problems:
support@streetjelly.com

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.

The Jelly Dictionary

Special guest blog by Aaron Samuels a.k.a. “Maestro”

The Jelly DictionaryJellytalk, or “Jellese”

For those of you not entirely hip to the StreetJelly lingo, or even if you just need a refresher, below is the rapidly developing StreetJelly lexicon. This will be updated as the new terms come in.

  • Jellyfish – a frequent swimmer of the StreetJelly ocean. If you peruse the broadcasts often enough, you’ll find out quickly who we are.
  • Jellyfly – any one watching the broadcast but not participating in the real-time chat conversation. It’s all good. We got love for our Jellyflies, and sometimes the fish are in fly-mode. We just like to tease them because it’s much more fun to be a fish than a fly.
  • Jellybird – a performer on StreetJelly, our bread and (peanut) butter.
  • Jellyhead – see “Jellybird”.
  • Jellytainer – see “Jellybird”.
  • JellykingFrank Podlaha, naturally. All hail. The world will sing when he is king…and he is king. So we sing.
  • Jellyfire – a descriptive term for when a Jellybird is performing with passion.
  • Jellyswarm – any significant viewership for any given broadcast.
  • Jellyrat – see “drive-by”.
  • Drive-by – the act of briefly jumping on to another performer’s performance just to let their viewers know via chat that you are performing. Not cool. Performance over-lapping is going to happen and that’s totally fine, just let viewers make up their own mind about who they want to watch.
  • Greenwall – When enough individual token donations are delivered to a performer, the chat wall turns a delightful green (with gold accents). It takes a minimum of nine tokens to greenwall a jellybird.screenshot_clifty_20130127_greenwall
  • Whitewall – When enough blank chat entries fill the room, we call that a whitewall. Use this technique sparingly if at all.
  • Foot scroll – see “Lana scroll”.
  • Lana scroll – the act of using one’s foot on a laptop touch pad or track pad to scroll through lyrics or chord charts, so-named for the inventer and master of the technique, Jellybird LanaEve.
  • Spreading the Jelly – getting the word out about the awesomeness that is StreetJelly.
  • Bluewall – a Greenwall of Rocker Pins. You want this to happen to you.
  • Jellymood – I’m in the mood for love…simply because you’re jelly…
  • Purple Rain – A song by the Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. Jellyfish request this song on a regular basis, so you might wanna work it into your repertoire, if you’re a Jellybird.
  • AFJ – Away From Jelly. Not exactly fly status, just temporary absence.

What’s your favorite term? Have another to add? Continue the dictionary below…