It was set to be a fantastic few months of live music – that is, until the coronavirus pandemic caused venues worldwide to shut their doors, festivals to be cancelled, and artists to postpone concerts until 2021 and beyond.
That doesn’t mean you have to live in a music-less bubble for the next few months though; you can still watch many music concerts in the comfort of your own home, as artists, brands, production companies, and even opera houses, take to the internet to livestream their performances.
Many of these online concerts are free to tune into, and only require a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or TV – and preferably, a pair of good headphones – to get involved with.
So, whether you’re a die-hard ballet buff, want to keep in touch with your favorite artists on social media, or don’t want to miss out on the festivals you’ve been waiting for, get stuck into our top tips on how to watch music concerts online without even leaving your living room.
Are live-streamed concerts any good?
Nothing can really live up to singing along with your favorite band as they play to a jostling crowd, or the sheer glamor of a trip to the ballet – but seeing artists perform online as you sit in the comfort of your own home is the next best thing, especially if you’re self-isolating or practicing social distancing.
To get the full effect of whatever you’re watching, you’ll want to make sure it sounds as good as possible – especially if you’re tuning into a pre-filmed concert, which will be far higher quality (in sound and vision) than a livestream.
If you don’t like the idea of a live-streamed concert, don’t forget that you can still tune into pre-recorded live performances on streaming platforms like Netflix.
Meanwhile, the BBC is replacing the UK’s biggest music festival with The Glastonbury Experience, a weekend’s worth of events across radio, television, and online with “amazing performances to enjoy in the comfort of your home”.
Sign up to social media
Live-streamed concerts on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, as well as YouTube and Twitch, have taken off in recent weeks, as artists and fans around the world are being asked to self-isolate or practice social-distancing.
Big pop names like Chris Martin, John Legend, and Neil Young have all performed free concerts on social media, as well as indie darlings like Sufjan Stevens, James Blake, and Christine and the Queens.
If you don’t already, be sure to follow your favorite artists on Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms for information on upcoming performances. Tour date website BandsinTown has also added live-streamed concert alerts to its service, so it’s worth signing up if you want to keep track of a number of different artists and bands.
Want to support your favorite artists? Platforms like Stageit monetize online concerts, allowing you to support artists financially – sometimes artists use these funds to finance a new album or donate it to their favorite charity. These paid-for experiences are often more personalized, with fans being encouraged to request songs, and ask questions.
Expand your horizons
Somewhat confusingly, there’s never been a better time to get into classical music, opera, and ballet, with companies around the world opting to stream performances online while audiences are confined to their homes.
The Royal Opera House, for example, is live-streaming ballet and opera performances on YouTube and Facebook – totally free – with appearances from some of the world’s most talented dancers, musicians, and singers.
These live broadcasts are set to start on March 27, and will be available to watch on demand afterwards, with performances including Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, and Verdi’s La Traviata.
Boost your home audio setup
Whatever device you’re using to watch your concert, there’s no need to put up with sub-par sound.
Whether you’re watching on a laptop, smartphone, or tablet, don’t rely on your device’s puny built-in speakers; if you can, hook it up to a pair of headphones or speakers. If you’re listening with others, you can’t go wrong with a pair of really good stereo speakers, or a wireless speaker like the Amazon Echo Studio or Apple Homepod, which feature 360-degree wraparound grilles for room-filling sound.
If you’re watching on a TV, a great soundbar will work just as well for your at-home concert as it does for your favorite films and TV shows – and nowadays, you can buy decent models for under $100 / £100.
On a budget? Bluetooth speakers like the UE Boom 3 or the JBL Flip 5 sound great, don’t break the bank, and are portable if you want to take your concert-viewing outside.
If you’re listening alone, you could opt for total immersion with a pair of headphones – and if you really want to block out the rest of the world, try a pair of the best noise-cancelling headphones on for size. Wireless headphones, including wireless earbuds and true wireless earbuds are great solutions if you want to get up and dance without the restriction of a cable.
Using a smartphone with those headphones? You can boost the audio quality by using a portable DAC – some of which come with Bluetooth connectivity.
Set the scene
Okay, so your living room isn’t exactly Carnegie Hall – but you can still have fun turning your home into a concert space. Tip your couch on its side and grab some sheets to create a pillow fort, and hook up some smart lights like the Philips Hue for some extra special mood lighting. Want to go one step further? Nanoleaf’s Canvas Light Panels can be synced to music so you can have your very own custom light show.
Got kids twiddling their thumbs at home? Put them to work creating posters for your home concert either with good old-fashioned pen and paper, or with a drawing app on a tablet or iPad.
Check your Wi-Fi
If you’re watching a live-streamed concert – or watching any kind of content online – you’ll want your Wi-Fi connection to be solid. If the space you’d like to watch your online concert is a little patchy, consider investing in a Wi-Fi extender; these devices pick up whether your router starts to lose coverage and increases your networks range to give you a significant boost in wireless coverage.
Want to save money on these extra purchases? Check out the best deals on headphones, Wi-Fi extenders, tablets, and more below:
- The best smart speakers of 2020