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Livestreaming: Has it been worthwhile?

As virtual shows become the norm, two dedicated local musicians assess their experiences so far

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OVER the past few months, live streaming has become literally the only way to see musicians perform in real time. The reality for a lot of musicians is that their source of income has vanished without warning and they're left having to figure out how to work and exercise their creative muscle, so live streaming has given them the unique chance to do both.

It’s worked out so far for many musicians, including several in Savannah who have been putting on regular shows since the pandemic first shut down venues and bars back in March.

Two of those musicians—Seldom Sober’s Michael Corbett and singer/songwriter Sean Moloney (who books The Rail Pub)—have been particularly dedicated to streaming.

Corbett and his Seldom Sober bandmate Colleen Settle experienced unexpected success with their first stream, and have been doing a weekly run since things began. Moloney started streaming on March 18th, and did a marathon 50 shows (one per day) until recently, and he still does them sporadically.

Both Corbett and Moloney recently took the time via phone to tell us a bit about what the experience has been like so far.

Sean Moloney's live stream.
  • Sean Moloney's live stream.

On what the beginning of the streaming experiment was like:

Corbett: It was Colleen’s idea, and she just said one day, ‘We should go live on Facebook and see what happens.’ We tried it out on a Tuesday night, and it went so well that we decided to make it an indefinite weekly thing.

We’re not stopping any time soon, either. I wouldn’t be surprised if we go through the summer. But we got a really good response!

It started off as kind of a fun idea, but also at the beginning of all of this it was kind of a crisis time for everybody. People were really stressed out. I kind of feel like music affects people very deeply, so we felt that we had a responsibility to be there for people in some way.

We’re also in a much different position than the other bands doing this, because in the weeks leading up to the virus we’d lost all of our gigs with Kevin Barry’s closing and the Irish pub in Richmond Hill changing ownership.

So the goal with these concerts is to build more of a local following so that we can create something out of nothing when things get better.

Moloney: I call my shows the ‘5 O’Clock Sessions.’ My first one was the day after St. Pat’s, March 18th. I just decided to play some music for people, and didn’t need any tips or anything. I started with just one song on the piano, and then the next day I did one of my originals. And after that one, people were like, ‘Hey, can you play more than one song?’ [laughs]. So I started doing five. I had this old book of songs, so I’d pick out a good variety. I’d pick out anything from The Beatles to Nirvana to wacky little 80s songs or 70s songs.

I’ve had a ton of people over these past 54 days tell me that they plan their days around these sessions, which is the craziest part about all of this.

Seldom Sober's live stream.
  • Seldom Sober's live stream.

On how live stream concerts have connected people more than ever before:

Moloney: I have a good friend who I used to see when I lived in Detroit, and we’d go to the same shows. One day she commented during a show and said, ‘Hey Sean!’ And my friend Chris, who tunes in every day and who I’ve known for 20 years, would go to the same shows, too. But as we get older, people start having families and grow apart.

So when Sarah chimed in, which I think was day four, she and Chris started saying hey to each other. And then every day after, Chris would say, ‘Hey Sarah!’ or vice versa, and now they talk every day. And they hadn’t talked in 10 years. That’s for real—I hadn’t even talked to Sarah for 10 years. The fact that all of these old friends are tuning in, it’s amazing.

On the most rewarding part of bringing music to people during the pandemic:

Corbett: We really get high on going through all of the comments afterword, you know? You do a pub gig and a couple people will come up to you after the show. But in this case, you have dozens of people leaving you comments. So to have the thrill of having a drink after the show and read people’s comments, that’s all we need.

We do get some tips from it, but that wasn’t our intention. People basically ordered us to put up tip information, and people have given as much as $50 or more. It’s not just $5 here and there. And we’ve sold a good amount of T-shirts as well, which is great.

Moloney: Every day I’d go live on Facebook, and then once I had a few people view it I’d introduce myself. And the fact that people religiously tuned into that daily was amazing. We’re all in this together, you know? If I can take people’s minds off of this crazy shit for 20 or 30 minutes per day, then that’s awesome.

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