Tens of thousands of artists worldwide have started streaming during the global lockdown.
Millions of people watched those streams. But they’re getting burned out.
They’re burned out by low quality, crappy sounding streams put on by people who don’t know how to set up a camera.
They’re burned out by artists who stream every day, with no advanced notice or real purpose for the stream.
So what can you do to make your live stream not suck? Listen now to find out from Ryan Cohen of Robot Dog Studio who has helped artists put on dozens of live streams since the pandemic hit.
What you’ll learn:
Click here to join the discussion in our Facebook community.
To help keep Bandhive going, we sometimes use affiliate links. This means that if you buy something using one of the links below we may get a small commission. This absolutely does not affect what you pay for any of the linked items – your price will be the same whether you use our links or not. This trickle of income is what helps us keep the free content flowing!
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Welcome to Episode 34 of the Bandhive Podcast.
It is time for another episode of the band. I've podcast. My name is James Cross, and I'm here with Aaron Gingras, drummer of Suburban Samurai. How's it going today, Aaron? I'm doing quite well.
And actually last episode I made some sort of a horrible joke about being back on odd numbered episodes, and I think we're back onto an even number tonight. But it's okay because we have a special guest. We do. This is Episode 34 we have Ryan Cohen of Robot Dog Studios here with us and people right now are probably thinking, Why do you have a studio on the podcast? And that is a very good question. We will answer that question, but first of all, Ryan, how's it going, man?
Hey, it's going awesome. Thanks so much for having me here. I've been like a dedicated fan from the start of the show, and I just love tuning in and kind of chilling and hearing what you guys have to say. And it's just been so beneficial for me. And I think a lot of bands that I work with, too, so really honored to be here and and happy to be part of it. Well, sick. Thanks for being a listener. And, uh, we're glad you're here because I think especially now you have a lot to share about what we're gonna talk about today, which is screaming.
And I don't mean Spotify and Apple on iTunes. I mean screaming that has been brought on by co vid live shows via the Internet. Before we really get deep into the topic. Orion, I know you have a really diverse musical background. Can you kind of give us a five minute cliff notes of your background in music, whether it's playing or being in the studio or whatever you feel is relevant right now? Yeah, well, I played music over the years and bands and stuff like that, but I think I really hit my stride in helping other people make their music.
And I've had the studio at this location here for over six years and just, you know, built it up slowly and just been working with so many great clients and honestly, a real D. I. Y indie studio that we've worked with all genres, all walks of life, all experience levels and just all seriousness levels. And, I suppose, sort of gotten a reputation for doing great live ban all in the room recordings. Um, you know, everyone plays at the same time. Sometimes even we get vocals in, but mainly we capture the feel of the band, live in the room, and that was something we kind of did early on out of necessity as bands would come in with, uh, small budgets and they'd be like, We want to do an LP and a weekend and initially, of course, like every other audio engineer, is like, No, that's impossible.
That can't be done, you know that just that just goes against everything I stand for. But then I was like, Well, maybe it could be done. And maybe for different bands, maybe it's ah, really appropriate, and maybe it really brings some of their best qualities toe light. So we got into doing that. And along the way I really got into this Web documentary Siri's called Shaking Through. It's about a studio in Philly called Minor Street, and it also has to do with their non for profit weathervane, where they dio recording sessions for indie bands.
And they documented with this beautiful Siri's and Like that really inspired me once even do the studio, but to to want to really documented in a cool way. So even early on years ago, I would start by just throwing cheap GoPro knock off in the corner of the room and just kinda show people what was going on in these sessions because we were doing these live sessions all at once. We were pretty much record the basic tracks for the album, and, like I said, sometimes even vocals.
So it was a shame not to capture that on video, because then you have a built in music video, so we just kind of built it up from there, and I just also been really blessed with some dedicated partners who have just thrown themselves into helping me do it. I dio namely Christian, who does a lot of the video work at the studio. In addition to being a great musician, he's developed his skills as a videographer and his gear. And I couldn't do anything I do without partnering with him and delegating to him and and all that.
So, yeah, over the years we started doing, we would pre record these Internet radio shows for a Knauss, Um, show host and just local music Mega fan in town. His name's Tim Lewis. And over the years gosh, we've probably done I don't know the tally is, but sometimes we dio 20 or 30 of them in a year, and we've done that for several years now and again, we were capturing live bands in the room, so I thought it was a shame not to get video of it so Christian would film those.
And we had these really bare bones like D I Y iPhone rigs. Basically, we got, you know, inexpensive Gimbels, and we got free iPhones and we just stuck him on there and we were up enrolling. And we're making, like, really kind of legit looking videos, you know, for the time, especially, you know, with really not much of an investment. But anyway, as it progressed, we started using, you know, more expensive camera hardware and stuff like that and just upping the production values overall. But, yeah, we've always been in doing that stuff.
Let's not to say that we don't do every, like, basically, and if every approach to recording you can imagine at the studio track by track and just like, you know, to a click track just really fine tuning everything, spending a day, getting drum sounds, all that stuff. We can do that. But we also develop this ability to record bands, live in the room and also got a knack and just did all the trial and error necessary to kind of figure out how to capture the video side of it as well.
So we were kind of uniquely poised Thio start live streaming. When that started to become, ah, necessity, so kind of everything we had done. It kind of prepared us for the state of things as they are right now. I think that's really cool that even though you were already prepared for it, it was kind of an evolution over the years to where you are now, or it's rather where you were 34 months ago, before Covad forced the shutdown of shows pretty much around the world. And it's been really cool to see how you've grown the audience for your live streams and doing some partnerships with local venues and things like that to really get things going aside from all the technical aspect.
Because I know you've been doing a bunch of work to build the fan base. What do you think is the most important thing nontechnical for live streaming right now? Hmm, I guess for those that are doing it is Thio embrace the positive qualities about it and really use it as a chance toe interact directly with their fans in a way that they wouldn't necessarily add a live show. Everyone's kind of looking for live streams to sort of replace or like, be a substitute for live shows, and certainly they are.
But in the end, it's probably gonna be a disappointing substitute. Really, it's just never gonna be the same, but there are so many great positive aspects toe live streams and great fun aspect that people should really be taking advantage of, like being able to shout out people who comment and being able Thio put on shows for people that, you know, maybe normally wouldn't be getting out to see shows and just being able Thio kinda have regular Siris of shows and just really, in so many ways, be in control of every aspect of it.
Be able to make calls to action, to build different parts of their marketing for their band collect donations, direct people, Thio newsletter sign ups and all kinds of good stuff like that. There's there's so many possibilities and just all in all, even one of the good things about this for bands is as much as I think you and and me at the Syria. And we know, as we've been telling bands to do, is tow, you know, kind of get their act together with their online presence. I think now that all there is in so many ways an online president, it's has really been a positive effect in terms of getting bands toe also like breaking through the stigma of like I'm gonna post and I'm gonna bug people about my band because it's not really bugging people about your band.
It's getting the word out for something that for your music, something that's really gonna enhance their life, I think in so much more ways than, ah, politics or memes or, you know, divisiveness or, you know, online debates and stuff like that. I think getting your music out there and putting in front of people so they can check it out. It's like just a huge positive thing to Dio and fans need toe not be shy about doing it because certainly do it regularly because it's just gonna get buried under the political stuff and debates and whatnot.
I really like what you're saying there first of all, obviously, about how music can be especially useful right now. But I also think going back to the first part of your answer it seemed like when you're talking about email lists and called the actions and taking donations and all that kind of the approach if you were to sum it up is to have systems in place. So don't just go out and be like, Hey, we're doing a live stream right now. We're live cool. Have a plan in place, have systems in place so you can take donations and get mailing list sign ups and have a call to action to online merch store or something, because right now you can't sell merch at the merch table.
That's not gonna work. So you have to have something in place to take those sales online. Is that something that you're seeing all the bands that you're working with right now take advantage of? Or is that something that you kind of have to walk them through the process to help get them set up? So they're ready to do this? Yeah, I definitely think to varying degrees. Bands are doing this and, yeah, I do tend to have to walk them through it. But yeah, I mean, bands should have a few goals going into their live stream, whether they plan to collect those donations or sell merch or bans have been doing really great with collecting money for nonprofits.
That's been like hugely successful for bands. That's like something that's really easy for them to rally around. And yeah, and you're in a unique position of your if someone is really watching one of these live streams there really connecting with you, you know, on a personal level, and you're in a unique position, Toby able to directly ask them toe, do something like donate or get more involved with their band. Okay, well, I think that's really cool to that. You mentioned that a lot of artists are trying to help others with their live streams, and I know for the streams you're doing it's a little unique because it's streamed on the robot dog page and I think it's streamed on the artist's own pages.
Well, but you're basically multi screaming it, which I think is really effective, because it also goes back to what you're saying about doing things regularly. So it helps the algorithm figure out that this is something you're doing a lot of when it comes to these streams. Who has the majority share of marketing it, or do you split evenly? Can you tell us a little bit about what? Both parties due to market the streams in advance? Well, it's all such a work in progress, and things change, you know, week to week for sure, but there are basically two or three different kinds of streams that I'm doing.
Um was really lucky. Thio kind of pay it forward and do a few streams for a local venue, probably the biggest venue in the state. And they kind of took us on and we got a Siri's going with them, basically a sponsored Siri's. So when we do streams for this venue, they handle a lot of the marketing creating an event for the stream. And they'll co host that event with the artists and sometimes me in studio at the same time. When it's a week before the stream, I will schedule it.
So that creates another post, which allows some opportunity for them to be shared around and also allows people set a reminder. Um, they'll get a notification for its come up, comes up with a nice countdown clock as to when the live stream starts. So through creating an event and also having a scheduled stream those air two big ways that people can actually start to share the stream and make it something that people can get to easily. Because if you're just posting about it and saying that, Hey, we have a stream Wednesday at 9 p.m.
or whatever, you know, that's kind of a big ask for somebody toe. I don't know, put that in their calendar or just remember to get back on Facebook. But when there's an event, people could say they're going to get reminders to it. And then, especially when you schedule this stream, you know you could do the same thing with that. Get a reminder for it. And it's another post that's going around that people can share. And then when it's ready to go, you get a notification. Yeah, and with those streams for that venue, we use cross posting Thio cross post to Robot Dog Studio.
And that's that's just something that we get to do for ah, little signal boost for them. But that's part of what we get out of it is the exposure of getting to broadcast those from the studio Facebook as well. We don't always cross post to a band's page when we're doing it for the venue, because sometimes the reach of the venue and the studio has so much more followers than a particular artist, and it's just more advantageous just to kind of direct them there. But sometimes when it's a bigger artist, we definitely will cross posed to their page.
When I do sort of streams directly for bands. When they kind of hire us to do that, either they'll make me an editor and all schedule and run the stream through there through their Facebook page while cross posting, generally to the robot dog pages. Well, just for a little signal boost to yes, those are basically the ways that it happens, all right, that's really cool with the cross posting feature that's on Facebook now, and I think for anyone who isn't already aware of that, it could be really handy.
So, for example, if somebody's in multiple bands with somewhat of an overlapping fan base, as long as the band members in the band who's not performing are cool with it, that could be another opportunity. Thio give a signal boost like you're saying as well for bands who aren't screaming at your spot, you know, if they're doing their own thing. As far as bands who are streaming on their own, what do you think? The biggest hurdle for them to overcome is, I got to say it's technical, but it's more just overall the production side of it.
A ban is not necessarily going to be able, Thio put together the kind of audio and video quality that we can do at the studio being a professional studio and with a, you know, a whole crew and everything. But I think these streams were like very, very popular at the start of lock down, and I think people got a little burnt out on not only the quantity of them but the low quality of them. And I think in some ways we're kind of having to build back up, getting the word out that there are actually high quality streams coming out and that they're worth watching and stuff.
But I do think that, yeah, it's it's like a production aspect for bands doing it. They're not necessarily going to be able to get all the ducks in the road that we can at the studio. But perhaps even just having a friend help out just so they're not so involved in the setting up and the microphones and the scheduling of stream and also troubleshooting. If the stream goes down restarting it, just kind of getting a friend or a significant other to help, I think could be huge and also letting them do some quality control because that's a huge thing that we have to do Here is we have an intern who is just basically head down, just monitoring the stream as its you know, right off of Facebook or whatever.
Just to make sure there aren't any glitches that we're not seeing on our end then, then we can catch them quickly. So, yeah, it's more of a production aspect and figuring out what you conduce best with the tools that you have, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to improve your livestream greatly by figuring out how to use an expensive digital camera to do it. It might mean finding the easiest workflow to you, where you can do your thing and connect with the audience. And if you can't establish the highest quality possible, maybe you do something fun.
Like one of the best live streams I saw was an artist to live streamed from their bathtub. You know, that's fun, and it's something different, and I think that kind of makes up for, you know, any technical issues in the process. But yeah, it's just kind of figuring out a way to do it and then just kind of treating it like a production that you would wanna watch in. Generally, you don't wanna watch something that's all somebody kind of popping open the lid of their computer and like, fumbling around to get the thing set up for five or 10 minutes or whatever.
So run a private test stream and figure out, make sure everything set, and then when you're ready to really run the stream, do it and start right in and treat it like a really live show even more so that you're like directly connected with them. And there are, you know, potentially dozens of other lives shows going on that that anyone can skip to at any time. So, yeah, not to like, scare anyone, But, you know, you could lose them easily, so So keep it. Keep it something that you'd wanna watch.
I was gonna point this out, but I think you just did. At the end of what you're saying there, you're drawing an awful lot of parallels between what it is. Sort of navigating this new landscape and just coming from like, a like a band's perspective and then having that same band like a build themselves up in like a live show setting. There are so many parallels. It's a kind of almost seems like the same thing like you mentioned. It's important toe. Take note of things like production quality while not, you know, pulling an Axl Rose and, you know, waiting 10 years.
You know, it's important to get something out there and make it interesting if you need to sort of make up for some deficiencies elsewhere and correct me if I'm wrong. But it sort of seems like Would it be fair to say, in your opinion and in your experience band sort of have the opportunity to control more of their environment? So, like, if we're sort of comparing if we have a live show in one hand and we have a live stream performance in another hand, would you say that the artist or the band is able to sort of control more of their environment with the livestream?
Yeah, I think so, absolutely. And I think there's so much room for bands to think outside the box and do cool things that wouldn't necessarily be appropriate at a live show. But yeah, and I also think it's ah, it's sort of something that bands need toe do and learn to get better at. It's like building a second kind of stage presence. You can use a lot of the same things that you learn, you know, establishing your riel live show stage presence. But, you know, it's something that you're gonna have to learn.
You're gonna have to do trialing error, and we certainly have done our share of trial and error. We're always doing it. We're always, you know, trying new things and seeing what works and what doesn't what time today, What, you know, changes to the format. Do we have an opener or not? You know, Is that Is that a thing? Does that make any sense? Do we go two hours or we or do we do 20 minutes? You know, so it's ah, definitely a lot of trial and error there.
And yeah, you mentioned like that. You're potentially have a lot more control over the situation. They certainly dio and that, you know, opens up a lot of opportunities. Uh, you know, if you can get the Internet connection, do you do it just on, uh, vintage chair out And, uh, you know, wheat field or whatever you know, you could do some cool stuff like that, you know, doing acoustic show outside or something. Well, speaking of the length of the stream, have you collected enough data to kind of have a ballpark idea of what tends to perform best like?
Is there a certain point where you start losing people because it's too long? And is there a point where it's so short that people keep saying, Hey, we want more? We want more. Is there a sweet spot to hit in the middle there? Yeah. You know, we haven't experimented too much with the length of the streams, but we're kind of feeling like a Knauer is a sweet spot and also just sort of the crew here contend to get fatigued because, you know, it's a lot of it's a lot of pressure to make sure everything goes off well, but, you know, it changes every day to, but we've definitely seen streams that pick up like a second wind after like people, they're like, Oh, I tuned in.
I almost missed it. How can you do a few more songs or whatever and they'll get a huge spike, you know, at an hour and 15 minutes. But I think it's really whatever the band's air up for and what's really going to make the best show. I mean, if your best material is 40 minutes, you know, don't try to stretch it for no reason. Just try to put on a great show and like you would in a regular concert. All right, Ryan. Well, thank you so much for coming onto the show again.
We really appreciate it. It's so awesome that you've given all these bands of platform. And how many bands has it been so far? Gosh, I don't even know I might be wrong, but it's could be 20 or 30 so far. Or maybe more. Who knows? That's awesome. So basically about 10 a month, it seems like Yeah, yeah, that's really cool for artists who are in the area. You're located in Williston, Vermont. How can they get in touch with you if they want to have a live stream of their own hosted by robot dog studios?
Yeah, well, they, you know, were on all the social, so whatever way people are most comfortable with getting hold of us, there's always just on the Web. It's robot dog studio dot com. That's r o b o T d o g s t u D i o It's named after my amazing, fluffy 11 year old dog robot. So yeah, robot dog studio dot com and then on all the socials like Instagram, it's at Robot Dog Studio facebook dot com slash robot dog studio youtube dot com slash robot dog studio. Probably.
You know any others you can think of? We're gonna be at Robot Dog Studio and yeah, just get ahold of me anyway, You'd like these air so much fun. And, you know, we'd love to help fans get more of these going. All right. Very cool. And I can vouch firsthand that robot is very, very awesome indeed. As can Aaron on de Aaron. You know, Sub Sam recorded a couple releases up at Robot Dog Studio, I believe right? We did. And I'm so old now. I think the last one we did was probably 2, 2.
5 years ago. Oh, wow. Which is nuts? That sounds about right. Time flies well, continuing on the topic of robot dog studio, you set up a patryan recently. Do you want to tell people about that. Yeah, we just got started with that. All this stuff is in development. We're trying to figure it out. Yeah, One thing we're doing is setting up this patryan to try to make thes possible to, you know, continue to do them and pay our crew and also get people cool stuff and great benefits and you can sign up.
You know anything, Anything you contribute is so much appreciated. And and eso people will get exclusive live streams. They'll get, you know, stickers and pins and T shirts and all that good stuff. If you're doing D I. Y recording and stuff, you can get multi tracks from our sessions here to mix. You get kind of previews of upcoming prerelease music. I'll do mix critiques. They could get mastering. You know, if they're a singer songwriter, they could get one song master two months, stuff like that. But also if bands want Thio, Band's or artist's want Thio have a regular Siris of live streams, they can sign up for that.
We have once here for acoustic soul artists and one tear for bands, and I think it could be something really good Thio develop. You know, just continue toe progress with your band. Even though you know why you can't play out. Currently is have a regular livestream once a month and just build it up. Making an event, May you know, maybe one is gonna be, uh, all eighties covers or something or, you know, just make it fun, You know something And just yeah, making an event and you can, you know, just make it a party for you and your fans and stuff like that.
I think it's got some potential. Yeah, you know, theme nights would be really awesome. I think that's a really fun idea you had. Totally I'm We're considering all these benefits for our patryan. And that's when it keeps on coming back to me. Is that if we took, uh, requests from the patron of, you know, fun covers for the bands to do, and that was some of the exclusive content. I really think that's gonna be something. Yeah, that sounds really awesome, Ryan. And again, thank you for being here and taking the time to talk with us as a closing note for any artists who aren't in the area or can't get to robot dog studio to do a stream with you.
What would you say? The number one tip you have for those artists is who are gonna pursue a streaming on their own. Yeah. You know, I think it's probably not one that you think of, but I think it's like, as I touched on a little bit earlier, is get some help. You know. Doesn't have to be a professional audio engineer, necessarily. But maybe your sound guy, You know, there's a lot of sound guys not doing anything right now, and they could probably really help you out right now, but it doesn't have to be that necessarily.
It could be a friend or a fan or a significant other. Just, uh, you know, don't feel like you have to do it all yourself. I mean, that's one of the ways that we make the livestream so good is we have a crew here, and I don't even do it all by myself. So, yeah, use your resource is and I think you'll find people would be glad to help you. All right. Well, Ryan, thank you so much. Again. Robot dog studio dot com is your site and we look forward to seeing next stream. Thanks.
Thanks so much for having me. This was so much fun. And, yeah, I look forward to the next podcast. Mhm. And that does it for another episode of the podcast. Thank you to everyone who's listening. And, of course, a special thank you to Ryan Cohen of Robot Dog Studio as well as Robot, the dog himself really friendly little guy right there. And it's really cool to be in the studio and have a dog keeping new company. That's definitely one of the special parts, aside from Ryan's incredible skills to make things sound awesome.
So if you're interested in doing a live stream with Ryan at Robot Dog, check out the social media or the website that he mentioned. It's robot dog studio dot com or at Robot Dog Studio on pretty much any social media, and you can work with him to get things going. This is not a sponsored message, by the way. We just believe in what he does. So I want to give him an extra little shout out at the end here, and if you aren't in the area, feel free to head over to our Facebook group, which you can find by searching for banned hive on Facebook or by visiting Bandhive dot rocks slash Group.
And you can ask any live screaming questions you would like to have answered. And the community and Ryan, probably as well as myself and Aaron will be happy to help you out. And, of course, you can ask any music industry question you'd like, and the community will come together to give you an answer. Aside from that, thanks again for listening. We hope you have a Knauss, um, week happy streaming and, of course, as always, keep rocking.
Find out how!