LiveStream: Dangers of Performing to Backtracks without a DAW Software!

This article will explain why Afton Tickets LiveStream strongly recommends that an artist uses a DAW software such as Reaper, Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Avid Pro Tools, etc. if you plan to use backtracks (backing tracks, beats, backtracks, DAW playback, etc) during your LiveStream performance.
(Wait, what is a DAW? Click Here).

For this article and any Afton Tickets LiveStreams, “backtracks” will be defined as follows: Any pre-recorded audio track(s) that you plan to perform to for your LiveStream.

Examples of a LiveStream performance that would use backtracks:

  • A Rapper that is rapping to a beats backtrack or backtrack instrumentals.
  • R&B/Soul singer that is singing to backtrack instrumentals.
  • Solo musician that is singing or playing along to an instrumental pre-recorded backtracks.

Why is a DAW Software Recommended in these Cases?

Basically, the only way to ensure high audio quality for your backing tracks is to play them through a DAW software, and then send the DAW master output channel directly to the streaming software. So to give your fans the best sounding LiveStream experience, it’s worth figuring this out well in advance of your show!

I Want to Use a DAW – But I Don’t Know How!

The first advice we’d have is to “phone a friend.” You, someone in your act, a friend, or a fan probably knows somebody that has a home recording studio or someone who is a DJ or producer that has experience with using DAW software.

So if it feels overwhelming to learn how to use a DAW and you’ve never used one before, we suggest this option.

You can offer to pay them outright for their time, or offer something in-kind like an after party or a shout out or promotion for them during your LiveStream and in all of your promotion efforts. But this is the easiest solution.

If you have someone that knows how to use a DAW help you, you’ll need them to sound check you offline and then also be present alongside of you during your LiveStream. So make sure to schedule them in, and make sure they don’t bail on you last minute!

Is It Difficult to Learn How to Use a DAW?

It’s not super difficult to learn to use a DAW. We recommend you use REAPER if you have never used one before. They say the free trial period technically lasts 60 days. But Reaper allows you an open-ended trial period without having to purchase a license(But if you do like it, and use it, we encourage you to buy their $60 discounted license for personal use).

There are a ton of how-to videos on YouTube and forums about how to use Reaper. If you spend 20-30 minutes watching some of those, you will quickly be able to do what you need to for your LiveStream.

You basically just need to learn how to do some simple recording and tracking functions and use the DAW software’s most basic features.

The part that can get tricky, is correctly hooking up your interface or microphone so that the DAW software correctly connects to it. But again, based on your specific hardware gear, you can find out how to connect it to a DAW on YouTube.

If you do go this route, it’s worth the time investment. (Remember, Reaper DAW software is Free). There is no greater tool for a musician than knowing how to use a DAW software to record at home, anytime you want. Even if you don’t have great gear, you can write your songs, demo your songs, and put down scratch tracks in your DAW which greatly helps reduce recording studio costs later down the road because you can show up at the studio with the “rough mix” of how your song is supposed to sound.

What if I Don’t Want to Hassle with a DAW?

If you don’t want to hassle with learning or using a DAW – your only option is to basically play your backtracks or beats on a boom box or speaker system that is located behind you, with the speakers pointing towards your computer mic (or whatever mic you’re using for your LiveStream).

In this case, the mic you’re using to capture all of the sound in your room is going to pick up the backtracks being played on the other set of speakers plus your voice rapping or singing. So two audio sources are going to be heard by your mic. There are a few problems here:

  1. Now your backtracks are being “heard” by your microphone and sent to your fans. It’s not a direct signal, so room noise and other factors will degrade your backtrack sound quality to the end user.
  2. Sound check is hard. If your room mic or device mic are picking up both your vocals and the backing tracks being played behind you on a separate set of speakers, the only way to adjust the levels would be to either:
    1. Turn volume up or down on the backtrack speaker output.
    2. Or, move yourself away from, or closer to, your room mic or your device mic.
  3. Even if you do get the levels right (i.e. you stand in the right spot in the room and place the speakers playing your backtracks in the right spot and the levels sound “ok”) you still have the problem of degraded backing track quality since the sound is traveling from the speakers out to your room mic or device mic.

Simply put: Anytime you hear someone on Facebook live rapping while music plays in the background – it sounds pretty horrible. The low end is gone, you can’t hear the beats, it just doesn’t seem professional.

Knowing this, do you still want to proceed with your LiveStream without using a DAW software for your backtracks?

It’s up to you. You can still put on a fun LiveStream for your fans, but the audio quality will not be anywhere close to what it could be if you don’t use a DAW software to play your backtracks and connect the DAW master output channel directly to your streaming software.

Now, if you have no other option? Your fans want to see your LiveStream and you just have no way to do so without this “basic” option? Then go ahead and do it. We just want you to understand the vast difference in sound quality if you choose to figure out how to use a DAW for your LiveStream performance.

So Now What?

Don’t worry, Afton Tickets LiveStream will teach you how to use the streaming software, setup your stream, and how to send your DAW master output channel to the streaming software. We teach you that when you complete the Tech Rider in your for your LiveStream gig with step by step instructions.

However, if you want to use a DAW for your backtracks – you or someone you know will need to know how to use a DAW and how to get your mic setup with the DAW you’re using. There are just too many variables in types of DAW software, types of computer devices and operating systems, and types of microphones and external recording hardware devices for Afton Tickets LiveStream to be responsible for troubleshooting or teaching those type of DAW related thing.