Recently, I happened upon an old article from an Australian publication imploring major performing arts institutions in the area to start live streaming events. The author of the article argued that live streaming things like Opera and Ballet would allow people of all financial and social circumstances to participate in a cultural experience that has historically been inaccessible to many.
Fortunately, the art world felt similarly. Today, I can view performances and talks at the Sydney Opera House live from my couch in California.
Performing artists are increasingly joined by digital artists, painters, sculptors, authors, designers, craft makers, and people from every creative field you can imagine. People are streaming their creative process across their OVPs of choice to other artists and people like me who just appreciate art (and can’t make things). Twitch even has channels specifically dedicated to artists who want to live stream their process.
This trend benefits us as humans and consumers of art, but it has the potential to help artists and commercial designers expand audiences and improve business.
How Does Live Streaming Artistic Practice Benefit Viewers?
I think it’s pretty safe to say that in 2017, most people take the internet for granted, but it’s really an awe inspiring tool. It connects people on every continent, and gives us access to information about the culture and lived experiences of others.
Live streaming takes this connection a step further. It allows people to communicate with one another in real time, and experience the same moments, together. In the context of something innately human and beautiful like visual art, design, music, or performance, this is a particularly meaningful opportunity to connect.
How Does Live Streaming Benefit Artists?
There are a number of reasons artists and artisans incorporate live streaming into their practice.
To start, for most artists who live stream their work, there’s usually a simple desire to enrich the lives of others. But, for some artists, live streaming has the added benefit of getting news out about their most recent work, and contributing to their business.
For example, publishers use live streaming to benefit the arts by getting people excited about reading, and connecting readers to writers through author Q&As and book launches. Live stream also amplifies these events to help people in the literary world reach more potential consumers, and therefore helps fund their practice.
Commercial designers are also well positioned to benefit from live streaming their work at conferences, demonstrations and trade shows. Through live stream, potential consumers can view and interact with designed materials and spaces in ways that are more informative than just looking at a photograph. For example, the global tile and stone conference, Coverings, expanded the audience for their designers, fabricators, builders, buyers and distributors through live stream.
Even VirtualArtsTV, a major player in the live-streamed performing arts world, can benefit socially and financially from distributing live streams and expanding their reach. They exist to bring the performing arts to audiences that wouldn’t otherwise have access, but, like any other organization, they need public awareness and support. A well-cultivated, wide audience provides funding and marketing opportunities that traditional performing arts companies may not have access to.
Also, The Craftys, an award show created to celebrate talented artists in the DIY and craft community across the United States, helped garner attention for producers of everything from duct tape creations to edible crafts. After developing a live streaming and distribution strategy for the show, the Craftys were able to drive thousands of views with a high engagement rate. In the attention economy, those engaged viewers are vital.
This is all to say that, if you’re an artist with access to a camera and the internet, live streaming might be worth a try! And if you aren’t, watching artists live stream is definitely worth one.