Ten Benefits of Live Stream Musical Performances Over Live Performances
Author: Chris Thompson (retired Professional Engineer (electrical engineering) and drummer/bassist in gigging small jazz ensembles and big bands for 50 (!) years)
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Ottawa Jazz Happenings or of JazzWorks.
In the current COVID-19 crisis, many musicians have turned to live streaming musical performances* from their homes to at least partially replace their lost income from live performing and teaching, and/or because they miss performing. An example is the Canadian National Arts Centre’s ‘Canada Performs’ series. Musicians who at the beginning of March 2020 didn’t even know what a live stream was have scrambled to come up to speed so that they could put on live stream performances from their homes.
* The word ‘performance’ in the remainder of this article refers to a ‘musical performance’.
I got involved with live streaming at the end of March 2020 when Carmen Vacchio, General Manager of Zolas Italian Restaurant in Bells Corners, asked me to help him with live streaming performances by Zolas jazz performers in order to help support Zolas’ takeout and delivery business during this very difficult time for restaurants. I had been booking the performers for Zolas’ ‘Live Jazz Saturday Nights’ program for the previous two years. Being an engineer (and borderline OCD – not a job requirement, but definitely an asset), I like to think about things and, if possible, generate lists and/or spreadsheets. As I’ve learned over the years, this can be very annoying to non-engineers – and especially spouses. During the past two months I’ve watched a lot of live streamed performances and thought a lot about live stream performances in general. I’ve noticed and have been keeping a running list of the benefits of live stream performances over live performances. Here’s my current list:
Don’t get me wrong. Live performances clearly have a major benefits over live stream performances. For example, live streaming doesn’t allow musicians in different physical locations to play together in real-time (this is the big one), with live performances interaction between the performer(s) and the audience isn’t just text, performance venues such as GigSpace provide much better sound and lighting than live stream performances done from performers’ homes, and live performances allow people to get out of their homes, socialize with others, and combine dining in a restaurant with the performance – wouldn’t that be nice right now (sigh).
How long will the current live stream performances last? My own feeling is that, in the case of restaurants, these will last at least until there are no social distancing restrictions, which likely won’t be until there’s a vaccine, which is currently seen by health care professionals as best case a year away. With social distancing restrictions in place, restaurants won’t be able to have the number of customers in their dining rooms that they need in order to cost-justify hiring performers. The same goes for GigSpace and other performance venues. Not what anyone wants to hear (denial is not just a river in Egypt), but I believe that’s the reality.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that, coming out of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s going to be a very different world and a very new ‘normal’. Musicians who are being forced to use live streaming for the first time to make up for their lost teaching and (especially) performing revenues, and/or because they miss performing, are discovering the powerful benefits of live streaming over live performances. I believe that the ‘new normal’ will still have live performances, but possibly fewer, and a lot more live streaming.
Now in our 27th year, JazzWorks has grown from a two day jazz workshop at the Christie Lake Camp, to a year-round organization offering our Annual Jazz Camp, and Composers’ Symposium at the magnificent CAMMAC complex on Lac MacDonald in the Laurentians, monthly jam sessions and vocal open mic nights, jazz mentoring in Ottawa high schools, a variety of master classes and workshop sessions and our exciting new JazzWorks Presents Concert Series.
It is no exaggeration to say that JazzWorks has inspired many people to become seriously involved in music — young people learning their first jazz tunes and older people rediscovering their love of the music, performing and composing. To be more specific, hundreds of people have participated at Jazz Camp over the years and the Camp has changed their lives.
JazzWorks is having financial difficulties. Costs have risen substantially at CAMMAC, our terrific site. Tough economic times have also affected us:
We pondered serious cutbacks to the 2019 Camp program, but in the end decided to proceed full tilt, maintaining the high quality of the experience for those who had registered.
To keep the organization viable and continue our programs, JazzWorks needs your help, now!
With the goal of greater financial stability for our organization and to have the necessary resources to continue to offer our programs, we have established a fund with the Community Foundation of Ottawa.
Under the direction of our Vice-Chair Tom Bryant, this long-term initiative will be supplemented with creative fund-raising endeavours and also by continuing our cost-efficient approach to spending. Tom has made an initial donation of $1000 and we urge you to join him by making a donation (which is income tax deductible) to the fund.
Our immediate need
The immediate cash crisis is very serious. We need $15,000 to get over the financial hump. There are more than 300 on this email list, JazzWorks supporters and jazz campers past and present, many of you whose lives have been changed through participation in JazzWorks.
If each of you can give a little — and some can give more than that — we can get JazzWorks back on its feet, ready to swing into the next decade — and beyond.
If you can send us $50 (or less) or $100 (or more!) we will use that money, to ensure that there is a Camp next summer, keep the fees reasonable, maintain our high level of Canadian faculty and distinguished international visitors, and to continue to provide Camp scholarships to deserving young musicians. All donations over $20.00 will receive a tax-deductible receipt.
Donations can be made by cheque payable to JazzWorks or by credit card, by phone (Visa and Master Card accepted). All donations over $20.00 will receive a tax-deductible receipt. To donate, please:
We hope to see you at our Jam Sessions and Vocal Open Mic Nights (third Thursday and second Wednesday of the month at Festival Japan), JazzWorks Presents Concerts and at Jazz Camp next summer.
The JazzWorks Board of Directors:
Marylen Milenkovic- Chair
Tom Bryant -Vice-Chair
Ira Abrams, CA - Treasurer
Margaret Cameron- Secretary
Elizabeth Hanson- Jazz in the Schools Outreach
Judith Humenick - Executive Director/Producer