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My love letter to Live Streaming (Done Well)

Since this all started we have been drawn with an infinite amount of live streams, mostly done in poor conditions through Facebook and Instagram. Two platforms designed to spend the least amount of time not scrolling down or swiping right with your thumb. Also this kind of stream has been more about who's watching rather on what I am listening to. That, obviously has an effect on your expectations and thoughts about streaming itself. But after my recent experience I discovered that in fact, Live Streaming (done well) has massive prospects for something like sound art. 

My main experience has been using and engaging with Twitch, a gamer platform designed to live stream dudes playing video-games and commenting on it. We have been using it to broadcast what we have been calling as Festival (I don't think anymore on those terms) but it has been a series of broadcasts featuring exclusive recorded concerts by artists from all around the world. This is called #RuidoVírico.

The outcome has been the creation of a small community of listeners that every Sunday engages on a 4 to 5 hours collective listening experience that has defied all my original expectations. Here I summarize why I think Live Streaming done well is awesome:

First of all, Live Stream (done well) deals with something rather unusual these days on the internet: the longer in time, the better. Meaning that you can go slow, and you are not constrained by the forced limited period of time that social networks demand. And that is something bold for an art medium that requires time to digest, introspect, and relate to.

Secondly, immediacy and real-time-ness. This is pretty straight forward, since the broadcast its gonna happen on a specific time (and then it won't anymore) requires a commitment to the listening experience, planing, and altering your worldly routines to be there on time.

Third, (and related to the previous) it gives you the feeling of being surrounded by folks doing the same as you but without having to ask them to be quiet. Aside from the isolationist extreme to which some of us strive for in each concert, we attended in the past, the idea of being there at the same time helps building the sensation of a collective listening experience.

Fourth, live streaming (done well) allows also to be very consequent and committed to your work, taking time to deliver a sound piece or music piece at its best quality. It also allows committed listeners to listen through your work through the best quality they consider or have access to. That is pretty bold because you are making sure that at least a big percentage of the audience will perceive your work in excellent conditions. It also allows for listening through cellphone speakers but you cannot control that. 

Fifth, form the "social" aspect of the concert, Live Streaming done well offers the ability to attend concerts of your favorite marginal style of music even if you leave 200km far from the nearest underground venue. It allows you to live pretty far away from anything and still be able to enjoy in better condition the music by your favorite artists with better quality than on the underground venue. It also allows you to be surrounded by a global and scattered scene united in one place, sharing a listening experience, together and apart. 

Finally, in defense of Live Streaming (Done Well) I must say that if you read the text I am not referring to the current global situation. I could have written this text 5 months ago and I would be still valid. Some of us don't have access to local venues, or scenes in big major European Cities, nor we can attend live concerts with decent conditions. I think Live Streaming (Done Well) opens a scope for scattered marginal "scenes" such as ours to unite, and break barriers between the physical space that will still be there when the virus is gone.

I think that Live Streaming (Done Well) can survive this situation and position itself as a very engaging and fascinating format, canvas or frame to explore, experiment, learn, and share. That is for me, the challenge I wanna face these days, that's why we are still doing Ruido Vírico after 9 weeks and have no intention to stop the moment lockdown is lifted. It will change, of course but we won't stop working on this because I believe (and so do my partners) that there is a beautiful space to work.