Let’s keep this short and sweet:

Is your music ensemble on Periscope? Probably not. Should it be? Yes.

What is Periscope?


Periscope was released at the end of March by Twitter. The app allows users to livestream events from their smart phone. Users can also watch livestreams through the app, leaving comments or hearts (double tapping the screen to show you like something being streamed) in real time. Once the stream has ended it can be rewatched for up to 24 hours, after which it disappears forever.

Periscope first made a splash at Coachella, where many users at the festival streamed performers’ sets to thousands of users who were not at the festival. Since then, Periscope has been embraced by bicyclists in New York City, tourists in North Korea, and boxing fans.

Music ensembles have not been so quick to catch on. At the time of writing, it seems like only Alarm Will Sound and some major orchestras have ventured into the world of Periscope. However, despite their presence on the platform, no music ensembles appear to be using the app regularly.

I’m guessing the main reason for the lack of regular broadcasts can be boiled down to one question: what should you broadcast?

What should you broadcast?

I would be quick to argue that you should broadcast everything you can think of. Rehearsal? Broadcast it. Concert? Broadcast it. Fundraiser event? Broadcast it. Work meeting with composers? Broadcast it. Education outreach? Broadcast it. Budget meeting? Okay, maybe not that. But you get the idea! If you have anything going on that might be even remotely interesting for your audience, you should consider broadcasting it.

This applies doubly to your ensemble’s behind-the-scenes stuff like rehearsals. You’d be surprised how many people will watch a stream showing your ensemble’s moments that are usually kept private. Next time you’re at a rehearsal, consider propping up your phone on a stand and broadcasting on Periscope (something Alarm Will Sound members have recently gotten in the habit of doing).

So what should you broadcast? Everything.

My first experience with Periscope.

A couple of weeks ago, I used Periscope to broadcast New Music USA‘s benefit. The evening featured performances by project grants awardees PRISM Quartet, Rudresh Mahanthappa, RighteousGIRLS, Wet Ink Ensemble, and Steve Coleman. I livestreamed the whole thing.

The result? 201 viewers tuned into the hourlong stream and we got 620 hearts. Several viewers even stuck around for the entire show and took to other social networks to tell others to watch too.

Our first venture into Periscope was a success. Now I’m attempting to dream up more ways we can broadcast on the platform.

While New Music USA is not a music ensemble, our successful first attempt at Periscope highlights the fact that our audience was already living on the app before we showed up; the same is likely true with your audience.

Where Periscope is headed.

Periscope is still a young social network, but it is growing rapidly. According to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, “1 million users signed into Periscope in the first 10 days following its launch.” And though the app was originally only available on iOS, the Android version of Periscope was released at the end of May.

Periscope is a game changer when it comes to connecting with your audience digitally. It can be used in myriad ways, from giving an intimate glimpse into your ensemble, to livestreaming concerts, to even doing a Q&A with members of the ensemble. The possibilities for Periscope are endless, and it’s time you started taking advantage of it.

Music Ensembles in the Age of Periscope
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