Online Busking with StreetJelly.com

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By Jeremy Rappaport

Getting gigs can be difficult, to say the least, for both amateur and professional musicians.  Most people have to go to a local bar or coffee shop, perform at an open mic, and hope they’re good enough to play regular shows.  Finding restaurants or hotels with space for performing is challenging, the streets and subway stations of New York City have their regulations, and schlepping your equipment all over the place is a hassle.  Many venues require headliners to bring their friends and family, to guarantee some business for the owners.  Speaking of owners, they will often ask for a cut of the band’s revenue before they leave for the night.  And then there are those who need practice managing their stage fright.

Enter StreetJelly.com, an online busking community that began in August 2012–and your new best friend.  Similar to streaming sites like UStream, StreetJelly allows users to either broadcast musical performances from their webcams, or watch as an audience member.  A chat window beside the video footage provides crowd feedback which, from what I’ve seen, includes a lot of animated clapping emoticons.  Musicians from all over the world can play guitar in front of their computer, or hook up their entire home studio setup to optimize the audio quality.  Broadcasts can be made from any location with internet access, though the vast majority of buskers choose their living rooms.

In addition to praise and song requests, the audience can also “tip” performers, through PayPal, adding cash to to their StreetJelly account.  The webmasters provide information regarding taxable income, and how to receive payment.  I was able to make $1.60 within my first few minutes of using the website.

Before StreetJelly–and its founder, Frank Podlaha–came along, musicians usually had to resort to YouTube, which–while it was helpful for Justin Bieber–usually drowns your video in a sea of “fail” compilations and nasty troll comments.  Unless your upload includes cats, twerking, and double-rainbows, you likely won’t get many views.

Since StreetJelly only allows live streams, and not recorded videos, visitors will only be able to choose from “on air” contributors, who are all listed at the top of the homepage.  If you’re playing, you will be heard, even by Frankie himself.  As well, you won’t have to worry about any mistakes or onstage meltdowns being replayed or shared.

SJ concerts, while they may sometimes be spontaneous late-night sessions, can also be scheduled in advance.  You can post a Facebook status telling your friends about your show, “Live at the Dilapidated Studio Apartment,” and have them all be able to attend.  No commission to pay to the venue, no transportation issues, and no asking about the number of inputs on the sound system.  Also, no mosh pits damaging your equipment.

The service is absolutely free, and it’s easy to develop a reputation as an artist.  You can interact directly with fans, and treat your broadcast as any other concert.  Tell a “road story.”  Tell some corny jokes.  Pull a Sinead O’Connor and make a political statement.  Make sure the green room has zero brown M&M’s!

StreetJelly is the only streaming service specializing in musical performance for average joes.  Skype limits you to your friends and family.  GoToMeeting charges you a fee after a 30-day trial.  Chatroulette?  Omegle?  Well, you get my point.

So try it out and melt some faces!

[author]Lovingly written by the team at Fueled.  We build iphone apps.[/author]

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