Mermaid's Tavern Sessions go Zoom-Only in October 2020

October marks eight months of Mermaid's Tavern programming, six months of DIY Digital coaching and research, and 45 livestream events. Facebook has also launched new livestreaming policies and a new look with changes that impact livestream hosts and audiences.Digital Heritage Consulting has taken a deep dive into our core mission, live production numbers, platform policies, and level of effort. It is clear that our session audience overwhelmingly prefers the interactive experience on Zoom. For security reasons, Zoom links will continue to be mailing list only, with a same day email option for first-time listeners.

Our much smaller Facebook audience is made up almost entirely of casual listeners from the mailing list who enjoy multitasking, and the occasional singer who wants to replay and learn a song from a prior session.  We can meet both these goals without risk of noncompliance with Facebook livestream policies. We will refocus on using Facebook events to advertise the Zoom se…

Who Sings When? Ways to Manage an Online Session Roster and Singers' Queue

When we're together in real life, there are some recognized forms of etiquette for how to manage the order in which singers follow each other in a session. What is similar, and what is different, online?A Note on TermsThis article uses the term session leader interchangeably to describe the person actually leading the sing --the compere--and the person tracking the roster--the house manager. It uses the term host as a term of art on the Zoom platform to mean the person in charge of managing the meeting. The host can be either a solo compere/house manager or co-hosts in each role. We have developed some effective techniques that depend on the compere NOT being the (only) meeting host--see below. Common Real-Life Models for Song SessionsPOPCORN SING The most informal has been called a "popcorn sing," where each singer takes their turn as the spirit moves them, in response to a segue or casually as in conversation. This works great for a smaller group, and/or for singers w…

Live From the Mermaid's Tavern Houseconcert FAQ

One of the objectives of The Mermaid's Tavern is to support my community of folk and heritage musicians facing the losses of income, audience, and a touring lifestyle disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Another objective is to encourage and inspire musicians to make the pivot to digital business by supporting you through this digital transformation. 
What do you mean by digital business and digital transformation?There is opportunity online that has not been available to folk musicians in my lifetime. Anyone with a computer and internet can use free/affordable hardware and platforms to reach a global network of community audiences in participatory live performance. 

Live music after the pandemic will not look like it did in the Before Times. That's a good thing. Digital transformation in the music industry has disrupted independent artists from the death of coffeehouses to streaming services for pennies a play. Livestreaming can help you build an audience that will buy your prod…

Live From the Mermaid's Tavern Participant FAQ

If this is your first time at a Mermaid's Tavern online session, especially if you're joining close to the start time, please take a moment to review these Frequently Asked Questions before you reach out by email, message, or text. 
When is the next online event Live From the Mermaid's Tavern? these events on Zoom or on Facebook?We use Zoom for session/open mic singers and stream the Zoom feed to Facebook Live for listeners. This lets people multitask while enjoying a live session from home, and helps the session Compere stay focused on participants in the Zoom chat. A House Manager/Scribe follows listener chat in Facebook and works with folks needing help to join Zoom. We've found that it's really helpful when this is a separate role from the Compere/Stage Manager.
"I think this lets people engage at the level that fits their headspace of the moment.  The Zoom group stays …

Live From the Mermaid's Tavern: Reflections on Our First Six Weeks

Six weeks ago, I started a digital houseconcert series on the fly to help local artists and my local folksong society respond to the Covid-19 crisis. I'm astounded at how quickly it's become A Thing.  I've just been invited to be one of ten guests on a live web chat with the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS) called "Yes we CAN keep in touch! Connecting Our Communities During the Pandemic" on Wednesday, April 29, 7:00-8:00 p.m. EDT.
This blog post is a draft of my notes for the 3-4 minutes I will have to answer the questions below for a CDSS audience, and some reflections on why online community matters. Leading up to and following the live event, I'll tighten up the "script" and enhance this post with more audience and artist quotes and links to more deep dives into the Q&A posts earlier on this blog. What is your group doing and where are you located?Live From the Mermaid's Tavern is a participatory livestream concert/session series hoste…

Q&A For Online Sessions III: Managing Performers, Singers, and Listeners

This is the third in a multipart series of Q&A* about the burning question of the hour in the Corona Kerfuffle. How can we sing together on the internet?! Part I reviews the basic question of Is It My App or My Internet? with tips on how to check your network latency (lag time) for live digital video and audio.

I spent six hours in Donegal last weekend with the Inishowen Trad Song Circle and learned a lot about livestreaming and effective session hosting. We've since applied our learnings to the Online Ballad Sing, the Portland Pub Sing, a houseconcert with Debra Cowan, and a ballad class and session with Elizabeth LaPrelle.
Mute, Friends, Mute with CareCONCERTS: Zoom For Performers, Facebook Live For AudienceSESSIONS: Zoom For Singers, Facebook Live For ListenersUsing Chat for Requests and as a Singers' QueueOnline Etiquette for Hosts and ComperesOnline Etiquette for Singers in Meetings

Q&A for Online Sessions II: Livestreaming Setup Checklist

This is the second in a multipart series of Q&A* about the burning question of the hour in the Corona Kerfuffle. How can we sing together on the internet?!  Part I covers the core question of why lag (latency) is a fact of life and what, if anything, we can do about it. This Part II provides a Livestream Setup Checklist of how to use Zoom and Facebook Live together to broadcast a houseconcert with a remote host and manage a smaller group of singers/workshop participants with a larger group of listeners.Part III provides tips and tricks from recent experience on how to create and cultivate community for feature artists, singers, and listeners online.Refresher: What Gear Do I Need?Check your internet with to make sure you have enough bandwidth for livestreaming. See my post "Is It The App, or My Internet?" for details.Check out this excellent post on Recommended Equipment from DIY Video for Bloggers. Don't be afraid to start with what you have.Review my p…