How Working Artists Can Use Periscope or Meerkat Apps

periscopeOver the weekend of June 6, we offered our “Sea-Glass Storytelling” workshop here in Phoenix, Arizona. For the first time, we offered live video-streaming of an event via a smart-phone app called “Periscope.” There is also a similar app called “Meerkat.” Throughout the morning workshop, with the help of one of my staff, we streamed various segments of the content for “all the world to see!” It was an experiment in a medium that, while not being new, has become even more popular with these very easy to use new apps. Overall, we are happy with our first foray into the Periscope app.

There are many ways to learn about Periscope, so we go into much detail. Here are some brief thoughts. Periscope is a free app (application) for your smart-phone, both IPhone and Android. With minimal (read that: nearly none) set up, you can live stream video from your location to the public with the app. You’ll need a Twitter account to use the app or watch videos. To start streaming: you enter the title of your event, choose if you want it announced on Twitter or not (you do) and hit the button on the app. Your content begins to stream. When you are done, hit stop, wait a few moments and a replay of your event is available for 24 hours on the Internet. After 24 hours (or if you delete it), the video is gone.

There are ways to do private streams with just a few people, but that’s beyond the scope of this article. Maybe we’ll tackle that one a bit later.

In our first streaming event of this type, we learned a few things. Here are our thoughts about how a performing artist can use Periscope or Meerkat.

Part One: Essential Things.

1. Shorter is probably better.
In many ways, the Periscope streaming is the result of the nature of the mobile device. Quick, entertaining and useful, a 4-11 minute video is probably better than a 40 minute workshop. Let people enjoy your video but don’t make them captive to your content. Many folks use their mobile devices for short-term time fillers or fast entertainment. Imagine, for example, a classroom teacher who is on lunch-break who might just be able to squeeze in your five-minute recorded stream on the use of music to teach mathematics. Your respect of that teacher’s time (and of many others) will pay off in more views.

2. Share your content out and let the ROI take care of itself.
These streaming videos are short term. The return on investment (ROI) for your efforts may take some time to pay off. This work is more about creating invitations and foundations. Be interesting, entertaining and authentic and more people will seek out your videos. Not just your friends and followers but people brand new to you will follow your work. The videos will only be posted for 24 hours before they are gone and you can delete them earlier if you wish. These streaming videos are a reward for those who are part of your “tribe” of followers. Not all your followers and friends are going to see every video. That’s okay, options are good.  The “pop up” or spontaneous nature of the Periscope videos is part of the attraction.

Prior to our stream of the workshop in June, we did do several postings on Twitter and Facebook announcing the date and time when we would be streaming the video. A number of people did join Periscope and follow our account before the event, so we know that we’ve added some new eyeballs to follow our work in storytelling and coaching.

3. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Think informally about this process. Periscope and other streaming videos are part of the trend (especially with millennials and young adults) for immediacy and connection. So, connect with others but don’t worry about perfection. The short-term nature of the replays is a good reminder to you and others that our work is fleeting. You can and should make more content for streaming. Do your best and enjoy this new outreach.

4. Engage and stream often.
Make it a point to use the app often with short, fun content. Do something to connect with your audience. You’ll drop out of mind and attention if you don’t produce regular elements. Keep things simple so this doesn’t become burdensome to you. Try something like “every Wednesday I will be on Periscope with a new story” (or song, dance, drawing workshop or the like).

5. Pay attention to lighting and surroundings.
Keep clearly focused on the speaker, but feel free to pan (scan) the area from time to time. It will be good if you get someone to be your tech for your videos. Be sure the room or space you are in is well lit. Get in close to whatever you want the focus of the video to be. Use your phone in the vertical position (portrait) instead of the horizontal (landscape) position. On my phone, if I were to use signs or displays, I would need to have them written backwards in order to be seen as it appears that the image to the viewer is flipped. .deppilf si reweiv.

6. Some simple equipment might help.
A good holder or tripod for your phone might be a solid investment. (Click these following affiliate links to see the products on Amazon.) We use this set up to hold the phone and to connect it to a table-top tripod or use the clip alone with a free-standing tripod. We use a holder (like this one) here to connect the phone to a boom microphone stand for larger events.

Part Two: What content could you produce on a Periscope stream?

1. Offer a short concert.
How fun it would be if every week your followers knew they would get a new entry from you. Sing, dance, tell stories, read poetry or demonstrate something about your art.

2. Run an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session.
The chat function on these streaming apps lets you connect with your audience. Invite questions about any aspect of your art form. Viewers can type their thoughts into the app and you (and all) will see them. You could also use other social media to solicit questions. You could say, “I’ll be on Periscope with an AMA session. Send me your questions on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #(makeoneup) and I’ll answer as many as I can in 10.5 minutes!”

3. Teach a brief workshop or engage with a previous article or blog.
Showcase a piece of your training or workshop. Speak as if you were training one person. Discuss one of your blog posts or articles that others have left comments or discussion on. Educate a bit when you can in this casual medium. .

4. Showcase the work of others.
With their permission, show the work of others when you are at an event. No single one of us has the totality of our particular art form in our little minds. Show the work of others that might interest your audience. Again, the streams are short-lived and your diversity of content will make your audience look for your latest videos before they vanish.

5. Watch others.
Take the time to watch other streams by other artists that you follow. Tap your screen frequently and often to show your “hearts” of your likes for the content you are experiencing. More hearts help all of us move the arts up the popularity ladders.

Finishing Up.
These types of technology are always evolving. Like all technology, use these apps with discretion and integrity. You are responsible for your own results and work. How can you as a working performing-artist engage your audience with right-now streaming video? Where will you connect and teach? Who will find new information and entertainment with your work? Go explore Periscope.

From the author: If you want to follow me, you can follow (Sean Buvala) on Twitter using my handle @storyteller. On Periscope, you can find me under the name seanbuvala. I do try to follow back most performing artists when they follow me. I welcome your connection as we add this to our offerings from Come play!

Sean Buvala is the executive director of and a working artists since 1986. While he is currently a full-time author, performer and coach, he’s followed his own advice over the last 30 years and had many jobs in the arts and training. To get 8 weeks (or more) of free marketing training from Sean, join our Email list at this link now.