How To Record A Live Acoustic Session For Youtube
Live video is one of the most valuable pieces of content you can have as an independent artist. It helps fans get closer to your music and it helps promoters know what you sound like.
Unfortunately, making live video can be tricky – especially if you’re a band.
Multi-tracking and mixing a live performance can be tedious. It’s challenging to get a good sounding room, and dealing with bleed and the natural uncertainty of live performance can be tricky.
It can also be expensive to hire someone to do all the work for you, if you’re not able to do it yourself.
On top of that, you need to hire one or more videographers to film and edit the performance. Don't forget the video editor.
When you start breaking it down, it can feel like a lot.
But if you need some live video and want to do it quickly and easily, you should consider making a live acoustic video.
Here’s how and why.
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Acoustic Videos Are Easy & Effective
Even if your project is a full band, having an acoustic video can be effective.
People love to see songs broken down to their bits and pieces. They love to see their favorite artists playing songs they like in an intimate setting.
That’s why there are so many “Acoustic Covers” playlists and stations on SiriusXM like Coffeehouse – literally a station dedicated to acoustic versions of songs.
If the video looks good and sounds decent, it can serve as a great bit of content to tide you over until you get a better video.
They are also easy to set up.
The main thing you need is a single good videographer. This can be a friend or a professional.
For acoustic videos, you don’t need multiple shots or takes. Having a couple cameras raises the production value, but it also raises costs makes the process more technical.
Having one moving shot can be very effective and it’s easier than the alternatives.
Then, you just need a room mix. You can get this with the camera’s microphone.
Better yet, a ZOOM (or similar) field recording device takes great audio in stereo, and they are easy to borrow or buy for cheap.
Sync up the one-shot video and the audio – that’s it. You have an acoustic video!
I’ll take you through this process step-by-step, for different levels of budget and set up.
Record A Acoustic Video For Youtube With Some Budget – Best Case Scenario
Let’s say you have $500 to make a very high quality acoustic video. That’s fantastic, and more than enough budget.
First thing you’re going to do is hire one to two crew members. One of them should be the director. They will edit the video and make decisions about the aesthetic of the shots. This includes white balance, staging, and where the cameras are focusing.
You’ll probably pay one crew member $100 and the other $250 for directing and editing.
Then, with the remaining $150, have a friend with recording equipment bring over some good room mics and make a recording. Have them edit the recording and mix it a bit, to bring it up to snuff.
Depending on who you hire, they may also set up mics on your vocals and some of your instruments to get a more detailed recording.
Alternatively, do this yourself. Spend $150 and rent some nice mics. Hook them up to your interface. Be your own engineer!
Ask the people at your local music store what mics you should be using – they’ll have good recommendations.
If you’re confused, here’s my recommendation:
- Grab two good quality, small diaphragm condenser microphones and use those as room mics.
- If you need mics on your vocals, because the sound of the instruments drowns them out in the room, just use regular SM58s. They will be fine.
- Consider plugging the bass directly into the interface – bass often gets lost in room mics.
Finally, put on a great performance. The best thing about acoustic performances is that your emotion can shine through. Good quality video and a great performance can easily make up for sound quality, if that’s something you’re concerned about.
Acoustic Video With Less Budget – The Cheaper Option
Let’s say you have $150 to spend.
No problem. We can still make your video happen.
Find a cool place to shoot a video with nice acoustics.
Find a videographer friend, and offer them $150 to shoot a quick video and sync it up with the audio. Ask your videographer friend if they are comfortable using their camera’s onboard microphone.
Often, video people own little stereo field recorders. They work very well for acoustic performances. Ask around, and you’ll definitely be able to borrow one.
Then, put on a great performance.
If you kill it, that will be enough.
I see videos online all the time with millions of views, terrible audio, and terrible video quality.
If the performance is heartfelt and professional, the video will still help you put a good foot forward.
Acoustic Video With Little To No Budget – The Cheapest Option
The cheapest possible way to make a video is with an iPhone and (ideally) a microphone.
The new iPhones take such good quality video that it can literally be used to make a full production music video – my friends in Royal Canoe did just that:
Grab a willing friend and have them move the iPhone around a little bit. Movement keeps the eyes interested.
You could theoretically use the iPhone microphone as well (I like the way it compresses things) but that gets a little hairy when someone is moving the camera around all the time.
It's better to have a little field recorder recording the audio, and then just have them synced up later.
You can sync up the video yourself in iMovie or in any free video editing software.
If you have an iPhone, you can even do it all on your iPhone – it could not be easier.
How To Record A Live Acoustic Session For Youtube – Don’t Overthink It
If you have some music you want to get out into the world, just do it.
The only thing you have to worry about is the performance. As I’ve said, if the performance is killer, that will come through regardless of whether you have the highest-definition video or the best sounding audio in the world.
P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!