Starting in December 2020, I began a regular practice of live-streaming my music shows on YouTube, followed later by starting a channel on Twitch and another on Reddit. With only three months’ experience of regular live-streaming, I’m no expert, and I still am honing my show. But I have learned something interesting about how it feels to go live.

The first time I finally had my sound interface properly connected to OBS (One Broadcasting System, open source software for live streaming to any platform) and played a show, there was a moment in the middle of it where I felt a surge, a flash, that delicious sense of improvisatory daring that you get when you’re performing live “without a net”. It’s a feeling gigging musicians essentially chase. Indeed, it’s a high. Now, in the past that feeling was rare for me, even playing with a huge band for an appreciative crowd. Yet suddenly I found that sitting alone in my house, playing for strangers over the internet, I had that same feeling. That was my first sign that I was on to something.

I was confused, however. How can live streaming possibly be similar in feel to in-person shows? The two are completely different, no? I’m separated by pixels and packets and miles of cables from my audience, who are themselves similarly separated from each other.

Then I reflected on what it means to be a stage performer. You get dressed up in flashy clothes that dazzle in the spotlight. You stand on a platform above everyone else. You sing into a machine that makes your voice louder than anything else in the room and blends it into the stream of amplified sounds coming from your fellow musicians. You act important and elusive and hyper sexual and weird so that people will notice you and decide to come to your show. Oh, and by the way, you make sure the technical aspects of your music performance are sufficiently entrancing to the general public to make them stop and listen.

The entire enterprise is founded on a concept of separation, of being larger and louder than real life.

So I guess playing for you from behind my computer isn’t that different after all. I’m grateful the technology exists to do this now, and that audiences are interested. I’m enjoying the ride immensely!!!