While live music lovers have grown accustomed to watching their favourite musicians perform from their homes during the COVID-19 lockdown, a Canberra audio-visual business has unlocked the shackles by putting local musicians back on stage while still playing by the social distancing rules.
The director of Event AV Services, Rob Cartwright, said some too many of the home-based recordings he’d seen since COVID-19 restrictions were implemented were compressed and muffled, denying fans the best experience even under these trying conditions.
But Rob and his team found a way for artists to deliver the live concert experience direct into people’s homes – and keep people working.
Called Live In Ya Lounge, the format provides everything needed to produce a live show, with all the audio, lighting, vision, staging and streaming equipment ready to go. The band shows up, plugs in, turns up the volume and plays live.
“This wasn’t just going to be an artist in their lounge room with a smartphone streaming online. This is a virtual concert with full production, professional audio and lighting. It’s as close as you’ll get to be attending a concert in person,” Rob told Region Media.
“We have 24 full-time staff who have been outlawed from doing any work. I was always going to keep paying them, so we got chatting and came up with the idea of bringing local live music to the people.”
So Live In Ya Lounge was born. A remote site was secured and the team of audio-video specialists found a way to put all their equipment to good use.
By adhering to strict hygiene and sanitisation protocols, Live In Ya Lounge is compliant with all government and health requirements.
“We want these shows to be a means of bringing all of the high-end aspects of a live performance into the online world, in an intimate way designed for lounge room viewing. Once we go ‘live’ we are well and truly live, with all the raw imperfections of a live performance,” Rob said.
Canberra rock band Hands Like Houses was first on stage on 28 March. While it was free to view, fans were encouraged to leave a donation, akin to handing the hat around to pay for the band. Hands Like Houses have played to thousands of people in stadiums and festivals in Australia and overseas, so the virtual gig presented a great opportunity just to play.
Bands also have the opportunity to sell their recordings and merchandise.
“It was so much fun to be standing on an actual stage again with the lights in my face and a live audience, even though I couldn’t see them,” Dana said.
“As someone who works in the AV world as well, it was great to see sound, lighting and camera crew getting a chance to work on something, too. It’s a rough time for the arts industry at the moment and Live In Ya Lounge gives us all a tiny bit of relief, artists, crew and fans alike.”
“We had 65,000 views for Hands Like Houses but they have a big fan base,” said Rob. “Last weekend with Groovy Daughter and Hope Wilkins we got over 4500 views in 24 hours and now we’ve acts booked two nights a week all through June. We’ve started taking bookings in July and some south coast and regional acts like Kim Churchill and Lucy Sugerman have been in touch as well.
“I’m even getting bands from Wollongong and Sydney showing interest as they’re stuck there with nowhere to play,” Rob said.
“The bands are loving it as it gives them a space to perform and it feels like a real gig. We also do interviews with them in between songs and have feedback and comments from people watching, so there’s some kind of interaction.
“They’re artists who live and breathe performing, so having the platform to actually do that has been a little overwhelming in the feedback we’ve had from some of the bands.”