NEW MEDIA MONDAYS: How Periscope Can Be The Best New Tool For Artists

Periscope aren’t just really adorable names for your new kittens, they’re new apps that let you livestream your life instantly from your smartphone. Before I get into why you will WANT to do this, let me explain a bit more about the apps for the unfamiliar. In terms of differences between the two, the biggest is that Meerkat’s streams are not savable, whereas you can opt to save your broadcast for up to 24 hours with Periscope. If you want to save it beyond that you can opt to download all your broadcasts to your phone’s photo roll (via settings) and then upload to YouTube or elsewhere. With Meerkat you can notify your followers ahead of time that you’re planning on broadcasting, but Periscope allows you to easily browse dozens of random live streams from all over the world instead of just a handful of “community picked” streams in Meerkat. In both, your viewers can interact with you via a text based chat that appears in the window of the stream. Periscope also has the precious ability of sending the live-streamer “hearts” (Max 500) which are the equivalent of Facebook “likes” or good old-fashioned applause.

aubreyFor the purpose of this blog I’m going to focus on Periscope since I find the 24 hour availability a bit more useful for artists. The majority of streams currently found on Periscope right now are folks doing mundane, every day tasks but inviting an audience of friends and strangers to join them. Taking a walk to the grocery store, why not ask your viewers what brand of artisan peanut butter they prefer? Having a bout of insomnia, you’d be surprised how many folks will tune in to watch you count sheep. However, what if, as artists and specifically actors, we harnessed this rather useless technology in a smart way to develop and promote our brand? I’m not the first (or best) person to think of this.

In fact, casting director, actor empowerer and general bad-ass ninja, Bonnie Gillespie has been doing countless Periscope discussions on how this tool can become a game changer for you. In fact, you should stop reading this and follow her right now on Periscope since you won’t find someone who’s smarter and more well versed on this topic. As actors, we’re constantly hungry to find an audience for our stuff whether it’s on stage, on screen, or sometimes even embarrassingly at home in front of our boyfriend and dog. Now, you literally have one at your finger tips WHENEVER you want. Whaaaaaa?  Think about that. Did the acting gods fucking fall asleep at the switch and actually give us superpowers (and for free too?!)However, like most superpowers you have to use it for good, not evil… and in this case the good is being “on-brand.” If you don’t know what that means STOP once again, and read Bonnie’s awesome book, Self Management for Actors (SMFA). This info will affect everything from your website, your clothes, how you tweet and now how/what you Periscope! Done with reading SMFA? Cool, let’s continue…

For example, if your brand is the sweet, southern belle every guy would want to take home to mama since she never messes up her p’s and q’s, then Periscoping your wild night out grinding with 50 year old, sleazy club owner would be a BAD choice. Remember, just because theoretically these videos only last 24 hours doesn’t mean many folks haven’t found ways to capture, save and re-upload elsewhere. Just because you aren’t embarrassed that people see your first dance with your new boytoy doesn’t mean your agent or manager who has to pitch you the next day to play Reese Witherspoon’s innocent little sister in the latest Disney flick, won’t have a much harder time convincing those Disney execs that you’re the best choice.

So, you might be thinking what SHOULD I be Periscoping? If you constantly go out for the hippie, granola, yoga teacher and you happen to actually practice yoga, then why not broadcast a few of your favorite poses and field questions for those interested in learning more about the art of yoga? Do you tend to play the mean girl who’s boy crazy? Why not have a “guy talk” discussion with your viewers where you try to solve various relationship dilemmas of your viewers? Or are you really great at doing makeup for nights out on the town? How about doing makeup tutorials for a date night? If how-to’s or Q&A based topics don’t feel right for you, then a random, silly dance party for the quirky girl next door type is totally a fun smart idea as well. Play the bookworm, nerdy girl a lot? How about a tour through your favorite bookshop giving book recommendations? If you happen to be stellar at celebrity impersonations why not take a few suggestions from your viewers and put on a mini-show showcasing your talent? Or, if you’ve got an arsenal of monologues you know you hit outta the park, why not practice them and see if you can solicit (useful!) feedback? A fun, goofy car singalong (NB: you shouldn’t Periscope and drive at the same time, ride shotgun for this one) especially if you have a singing voice worth paying to listen to, is another easy idea.

PeriscopeOnStageHowever, I want to make it clear that Periscope is equally as useful for those of us who are either multi-hypenates or are just solely behind the camera. Shooting your own short film? Why not Periscope parts of the pre-production process and teach folks how to go about creating their own opportunities and maybe even get some useful input at the same time! Have writer’s block? Why not do a fun brainstorm session with a bunch of random weirdos from all over the world? If you get permission from production, shooting some on-set, behind the scenes interviews with cast and crew members between takes can be a great way to build buzz about a project and get to know your co-workers. These are really just a handful of suggestions to get you thinking about what you can do with this awesome new app—use these as a launching pad to come up with your own on-brand topics.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg, since after you figure out your topic, you should be thinking about what to title it. You can custom name each stream you start and like everything else this should also be completely on brand as well. An accurate description of the content (no need to put ‘LIVE’ – that’s assumed, but if it’s an “exclusive” or  “sneak-peak” of something that can be super enticing!) also helps, but how you go about phrasing it is another subtle, smart way of promoting your brand. Also, having a “call to action” if you’re doing a Q&A, soliciting advice or (if it’s ON BRAND!!) doing something silly like “I’ll Smash My Face In Peach Pie If I Get 200 viewers” can work as well. Don’t forget that your audience can type comments to you and I’ve found the most successful streams are the ones where viewers feel like they are actually interacting with you virtually. Yes, there will be hairy trolls, yes they will make sexual comments, but unlike your last Friday night at the bar, you can instantly muzzle these jerks by selecting their handle and then “muting” them from within the app.

Don’t worry if this all feels a bit awkward at first, and don’t be afraid to be a fan first before launching your own broadcasts. You’ll learn the most by watching others fuck it up and then waltzing in and owning the Periscope stage.