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Category Archives: Music Events

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People love music, most people love parties and some people love karaoke. Could music events engage and inspire the next generation of 18-40 fundraisers?

We created our own micro-music festival to find out. More here. We also tested whether you could create an online music festival with Google Hangout. More here.

We wanted to know what music events inspire the next generation of fundraisers.

We asked survey company Populus to survey 1000 adults aged 18-40 across the UK in the target audience, which type of event (if any) they were likely to organise.

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The results were clear.

Fancy dress beats music festivals hands down.

We suspect this is a mix of the hassle factor in organising music festivals and the participatory fun of fancy dress.

Time to get the comedy wigs out (for charity).

If you’d like help to create a brand new music fundraising event, or want help with digital strategy email us: change@thegivinglab.org

* The exact statements used in the test were:
THEMED PARTY in your house where people could dress up if they like and bring themed food
Creating a MINI MUSIC FESTIVAL where you invite several bands or DJ’s to play in your house, garden or nearby venue
Holding a KAREOKE PARTY in your house and asking your friends to make a modest donation to your favourite charity
Holding a PARTY WITH A PERFORMANCE, where one singer, someone who plays an instrument plays for some part of your party
NONE – I would not consider any of these

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People love music, most people love parties and some people love karaoke. Can music events engage and inspire the next generation of 18-40 fundraisers?

We asked what events motivated people. More here. And we tested whether you could create an online music festival with Google Hangout. More here.

And we created a little pilot music festival of our own to explore music event fundraising models.

Here’s how we created Cowfest:

  • We ran ads on facebook asking for people who were interested in music to sign up for more information. £50 worth of advertising recruited 70 names – 70% of people interested were under 40.
  • The majority wanted to use bigger venues outside their houses (see our findings about what music events most motivate people here).
  • We surveyed them asking them what help they wanted and 4 things stood out: help with kit hire, a ticket system which their friends could use and got the money to charities, a list of things to do (licences etc) and to be part of a national event.
  • The majority of organisers wanted to chose the charity (although some wanted the audience to decide). Most organisers favoured local charities they had a strong connection to, so we created a simple online ticket system to make that possible.

[We believe there is a huge opportunity for a big national music event that works across the sector, to support a wide variety of charities].

  • We asked 5 brave and generous people to run pilot events in March (on a day which turned out to be the coldest and snowiest of the year).

KEY FINDINGS

  • Music events engaged a high percentage of first time fundraisers. Yay.
  • Our 5 brave test pioneers all want to run another festival (in better weather). Yay to them.
  • Average donation at pilot events was higher than expected – at £10-15 rather than £5-10 expected.
  • People want to be part of something bigger – They liked the idea a famous band could turn up, that lots of events were happening at the same time and they could be connected together online.
  • Organising a music festival is a higher barrier to entry than a house party; micro music festivals appear to organisers to be much harder work, follow up survey work showed people 3 times more likely to run their own ‘house party’ than a micro music festival. See the full results here.
  • Organisers were happy to pay a registration fee for core support if it was clear what it was for and how it would be useful.

 

If this has inspired you to start a music festival that plays great music and makes a difference check out the awesome leefest.org.uk. We’re big fans.

If you’d like help to create a brand new music fundraising event, or want help with digital strategy email us: change@thegivinglab.org

cow fest - final 2013

People love music, most people love parties and some people love karaoke. Can music events engage and inspire the next generation of 18-40 fundraisers?

We created our own micro-music festival. More here. And we researched what music events the next generation of fundraisers are interested in. More here.  

And we were curious about whether you could use Google’s multi-stream video service Google hangout as a mini TV studio to create a ‘live from your living room’ music festival.

 We asked the lads at Silverline TV to work with us on this:

THE TEST

  • We used an acoustic guitar with a singer as our audio source.
  • We recorded this in two ways, firstly with sound coming directly from the guitar and singer to the recording device, and secondly through a small PA speaker system.
  • This second option had much higher audio input levels to replicate how a larger band may sound, or if any venues have a PA system being used for their concert.
  • We tested in three locations with varying Internet connectivity speeds and methods, as well as a range of acoustic qualities.

HANGOUT – THE HEADLINES

  • We’d still recommend it, but with a few buts ….
  • All the tests showed a common problem – low dynamic range.
  • Regardless of internet connection speed and varying the quality of the stream input, the Hangout output remained the same. This gives over-compressed sound, making the artists voice or music sound off-tune.
  • There appears to be an auto-levelling function in the hangout, that makes levels cut in and out, this problem was reduced when levels going into the recording devices were controlled through the iPhone external microphone and the line input to the laptop.
  • High volume sound that was generated when playing through the PA speakers incurred high distortion and peaking. (Similar to the problem with levels above, this issue was helped by using an external microphone which could adjust levels. With the iPhone external microphone however, these levels were often too high for the capsule to deal with).
  • Audio and video synchronisation proved a problem with the mobile phone when using mobile Internet. The synchronisation was only out for under 30 seconds each time, but was distracting to watch when it did happen.
  • We were impressed with the delay of the stream that averaged at 0.5 seconds. Google Hangout recommends a minimum connection speed of 1Mbps to stream effectively, this should eliminate synchronisation problems and lengthy delays.
  • When cutting between sources for the broadcast, audio did not follow the pictures. All participants’ audio is streamed unless their microphone is muted.
  • We didn’t like. Once a user is connected to the stream the host can mute their microphone, but it is down to the user to unmute it themselves. Should a user join the hangout part way through the broadcast, their audio will be added to the stream until their microphone is muted, causing possible audio disruption midway through a broadcast.
  • With the iPad Google+ app, it does not notify the user if you are invited to a hangout. Instead the user has to look on their timeline and manually join the hangout from there. This is not ideal for users who are not confident with tablet devices or the layout of Google+.

OVERALL …

hangout-logoWe still recommend Google Hangouts, but advise users to run the hangout from a laptop device and if possible use an externally controlled audio input.

You should also record footage locally (Windows Movie Maker and QuickTime are free).

We’d encourage some type of external audio capture device with a level control and if using raw microphones (not pre mixed audio) it would be good to seek advice on positioning of the microphone so as to not input levels too high in volume for the microphone to deal with.

The overall best quality audio came from the laptop with line input, mainly due to the audio input.

Overall we would recommend using a laptop as the best solution. As well as having the best results from our testing, a laptop offers a great range of enhancements for users. A range of microphones are available with mini jack input for laptops, as well as the ability to connect to an audio mixing desk if the venue is using one. We would recommend to all users that they also record footage locally and send post event.

THE TESTS

Location 1

This was a room with little soft furnishings, except for curtains, meaning that the room was not suited to high quality acoustics. This is the type of space we expected most Cowfest events to run in. All tests in this location were carried out using the local Wi-Fi, which had a high-speed connection.

  • Guitar only through PA speakers; laptop in-built microphone
    • Audio output levels were frequently adjusting themselves making it difficult to listen to. This was particularly noticed when the audio levels from the guitar changed in building points of the music, meaning that emphasis in the music was lost.
    • High distortion
  • Guitar and vocals through PA speakers; laptop in-built microphone
    • The levels of the guitar and vocals matched in terms of volume
    • Similar problems as above with tempo change
  • Guitar only; laptop in-built microphone
    • Less distortion than when audio input comes via PA speakers
    • Some distortion
    • Acceptable quality
  • Guitar and vocals; laptop in-built microphone
    • Vocals were of a reasonable quality and clear
    • Individual musical notes could be easily recognised
    • No significant unintended volume level changes
    • Quality did lower for a short period then return to normal. We believe this was due to a dip in internet connection speed.
    • Acceptable quality
    • [See video above]
  • Guitar only through PA speakers; Android phone in-built microphone
    • Volume levels constantly adjusting
    • Tune unrecognisable
    • Unacceptable quality
  • Guitar and vocals through PA speakers; Android phone in-built microphone
    • Cannot always clearly hear both audio sources at the same time
    • Missed some words
    • High distortion
    • Unacceptable quality]
  • Guitar only; Android phone in-built microphone
    • Recording device had to be close to audio source
    • Audio peaking
    • Volume levels frequently changing
    • Audio completely cut out on occasions
  • Guitar and vocals; Android phone in-built microphone
    • Volume levels of the two audio sources did not match. It sounded as if they were competing to be heard.
    • Some words missed
    • High vocal distortion
    • [See video above]
  • Guitar and vocals through PA speakers; iPad in-built microphone
    • Volume levels frequently changing
    • Some words missed
    • Compression constantly adjusting
    • Unacceptable quality
  • Guitar and vocals; iPad in-built microphone
    • Huge levels of distortion
    • Cannot clearly hear several words or notes
    • Tune unrecognisable
    • Audio cut out several times
  • Guitar and vocals through PA speakers; iPhone in-built microphone
    • Volume levels frequently changing
    • Some words missed
    • Compression constantly adjusting
    • Unacceptable quality
    • Similar quality to iPad, but with higher compression
  • Guitar and vocals; iPhone in-built microphone
    • Huge levels of distortion
    • Cannot clearly hear several words or notes
    • Tune unrecognisable
    • Audio cut out several times
    • Unacceptable quality
    • Similar quality to iPad, but with higher compression

With the iPhone external microphone the only noticeable difference on the stream was that there was no audio drop out and levels remained more constant, although not perfect.

Location summary: The echo that was noticeable in the room was not detected by the stream. The video quality across all devices remained similar. No device produced high quality video from the distance we were mostly shooting at (full body shots), but the mobile devices produced an image with less noise than the laptop. The main video problem was blocking and pixelated segments.

Location 2

These tests were carried out in a pub. We used this location as it was suggested that a pub might be a venue for future Cowfest events. There was a significant amount of background noise with other customers talking and some low level ambient music. This did not prove a problem and couldn’t be heard over the stream when the musician was playing/singing. At this location we were only able to use mobile devices on mobile Internet as there was no access to Wi-Fi. We used both an Android and iPhone at this location and cutting between the two there was no noticeable difference. Audio and video synchronisation proved a problem here at times (up to 20 seconds difference at one point), but for the majority of the test both audio and video were synchronised.

  • Guitar audio sounded very scratchy
  • Compression rate was high
  • Enjoyment of the performance was lowered because the audio from the singer had a very low dynamic range
  • Clearly audible and potentially usable
  • Visual quality was better than location one

Location 3

Our third location was a house, another suggested venue for a Cowfest event. Here we again connected to the Wi-Fi, which was at a much lower speed than location one. The speed was average for household Internet.

  • Guitar and vocals; iPhone in-built microphone
    • Audio frequently cutting out gave a stutter effect
    • Unacceptable quality
    • Synchronisation between video and audio was inconsistent on one occasion
    • Very similar quality to iPhone stream from location one
  • Guitar and vocals; laptop in-built microphone
    • Audio had a tinny effect for the majority of this test
    • Occasional peaking
    • Listenable quality

For the final test we plugged the singer’s microphone and guitar into a basic audio interface and did a very simple audio mix. The output of this was plugged into the laptop’s audio input jack. The Google Hangouts settings menu allowed the input to be easily changed.

  • Guitar and vocals; laptop line in
    • Low dynamic range similar as to with the in-built microphone
    • Some distortion
    • Not a massive difference in audio quality to the in-built microphone, but a noticeable improvement in constant levels and multiple audio source balancing.