Lena Hall is a Broadway star, Grammy-nominated singer and professional actor. But in 2020 she launched her Lena Hall Virtually Live shows and, in turn, she became a virtual event organiser, producer, technician, performer and, with a little help from Ticket Tailor, an expert at selling tickets for virtual concerts. A very 2020 career change if we may say so!
Along with many other artists and performers, she signed up to Ticket Tailor whilst we were offering our platform for free for virtual events, in an effort to support the industry during Covid-19 lockdowns throughout 2020. She kindly gave us some of her time to tell us about the last year and how virtual events came to the rescue, for her, but also her eager community of Zoom fans!
Can you tell us what you were up to pre-pandemic?
I was finishing up Season 2 of Snowpiercer in Canada and also setting up a bunch of live concerts in the US and working on a pre-Broadway project.
When Covid hit last March what was the initial impact on you and your industry?
My production shut down 2 weeks before we finished filming Season 2. Then Broadway shut down completely and all my gigs were postponed till July. Of course, we all thought it would be over in 2 weeks and so July felt so far away. Now it’s quite the opposite. It feels like the pandemic will never end and live in-person entertainment will forever be gone.
What made you start putting on online events and how did you get them going?
I was going stir crazy at home and had been researching ways to play music live via a streaming service. The thing that was so hard at the time is that I couldn’t figure out how to stream stereo sound via the web. Then, in April, I was asked to perform for Snowpiercer’s virtual premier event remotely from home. It was the very first virtual premier event. The production team sent a few people to my house to set up a green screen and lights and all the equipment I needed in order to perform at the event. I had just downloaded Ableton Live and I already had an SM7B (mic) and a USB pre-amp so I could at least record music from home. This just sped up my learning curve and I had a professional team set me up in my basement. After the premiere I realized that I had everything that I needed in order to do a live event. I just needed a platform and a ticketing site. It was actually Steven Page of Bare Naked Ladies who I had a conversation with and he took me through a few of the basics, as well as recommending I use Ticket Tailor as my ticketing site. So I did and I nervously booked my first show. I was very surprised by the response and the willingness of people to come to a Zoom show. It was an extremely steep learning curve, but sure enough, I’ve become a pro at putting on a virtual event using Ticket Tailor and Zoom!
What do you think the most important thing is when creating an online experience like yours?
CONNECTION! (And I don’t mean the internet — although that is very important). What I learned from doing my online shows and why they were so special is because we were all in a Zoom room together. We could see each other and actually talk and connect. I know of multiple groups of friends who all met coming to one of my virtual shows. The connection is what we are so needing right now and I found that having a Zoom room where everyone can interact with each other was a vital part of what made my shows stand out and made them feel like they were very much live. I found that watching something you can only stream (even though it’s live) it’s like watching a video. It doesn’t feel as personal as when the performer is saying your name or interacting with the chat or even talking to one of the other audience members. Just my personal opinion.
Have you managed to keep your audience engaged as the months have gone on?
Amazingly I have. I have all my regulars and then more that show up. The shows became, for all of us, a weekly hang-out that we could rely on to get our minds off of the difficult times all around us. Sometimes my shows would go on for 3 hours and we would all be there. Sometimes I would tell my audience to just request songs and see if I couldn’t deliver them! A fun game!
How did you come across Ticket Tailor and what made you decide to use the platform?
Steven Page highly recommended the site and because you were offering free access to the site until the end of the year I decided it was a win-win.
What impact did Ticket Tailor being free for online make for you and your community?
It was extremely important for me and other artists that Ticket Tailor was free! In fact, the arts community needs more help as we try and get through the end of this pandemic. At least until live shows open up again. A few friends of mine have been using Ticket Tailor and love it. We, in the Broadway and live performance community, do not know when our business will be back and there is no clear path yet. I am so appreciative of the free online ticketing as it sustained me through the most difficult time of my life (that I didn’t put upon myself).
Thank you so much Lena, we’re so glad Ticket Tailor has been able to support you in a small way during this difficult time. Best of luck with the rest of your virtual events, but hopefully we’ll see you back on stage and screen before too long 🙏🏼. If you would like to check out Lena’s next virtual concert then keep an eye out on her website or Twitter for future announcements.