As Seagle Festival begins selling tickets for its 2021 series of live-streamed performances, we know there are many questions people have about the how’s and why’s of this summer – especially since this season is so very different from our past in-person seasons. So, we put together answers to some frequently asked questions. If you have a question that’s not answered here, feel free to comment below, or contact us at (518) 532-7875 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What is a live-stream performance?
A: In live-stream performances like Seagle Festival will be producing this summer, artists are performing live on-stage, in our case at the Oscar Seagle Memorial Theater. Their performance is captured by cameras and microphones, and that information is sent directly to the internet in real time. From there, audience members who have logged in to watch the live-stream on their computer, laptop, smartphone, etc., receive the information from the internet in real-time and watch the capture on their screens. You can think of it as a live TV broadcast like your local news, but using different technology.
Q: How is a live-stream different than an on-demand video, or something on Netflix?
A: On-demand videos, or shows like you watch on Netflix or other online content providers, are playing a pre-recorded version of the show. In a live-stream, the performance of the show is happening at the same time the show is being watched online.
Q: Why produce live-streams and not on-demand content?
A: Seagle Festival’s decision to offer live-stream performances for 2021 is most directly related to our mission. While virtual performances will never replace the experience of live theater for both performers and audience members, offering live-streamed performances will most closely replicate a live performance for both performers and audiences. Our mission to bring quality performances to our audiences and offer exceptional training and performance experiences to our artists drove us to this decision.
Q: Are there examples of live-streamed performances?
A: The most well-known examples of live-streamed performances, especially in our field, are the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD performances seen in movie theaters across the country. These performances, happening in NYC on the Met’s stage, are live-streamed to screens around the world. Often, the recordings of these performances are then re-broadcast later in the week at the same theater, or are available on-demand via the Met’s website.
Q: What am I buying a ticket for?
A: With a live-streamed performance that you will watch at home, you already have the best seat. So, when you buy a ticket for a 2021 Seagle Festival performance, you are purchasing access to the live-stream. Approximately one week before any performance for which you have purchased a live-stream ticket, you will receive by email a direct link to the performance, as well as a username and password which you will use to access the stream.
Q: Why do I have to enter a username and password?
A: The platform we are using to live-stream our performances uses sophisticated programming to ensure that only those who have purchased a ticket to watch are given access, and only to a single device per ticket. Keeping track of who is watching is particularly important for the productions in which we are required to have a license to produce – like Broadway Musicals, modern operas and translations, and any other shows that are not in the public domain – because our license agreements require Seagle Festival to pay licensing and royalties fees that correspond to the number of tickets sold.
Q: Why is a ticket for ‘one device’ and not per person?
A: Because it is impossible for us to know exactly how many people will sit at a computer or other internet connected device to watch a show this summer, it’s impractical to sell a ‘per person’ ticket to any live-streamed online performance. So, each ticket allows the purchaser one set of login credentials that can be used on only one device.
Q: What is ShowTix4U?
A: ShowTix4U is the platform Seagle Festival is using to broadcast its live-streamed performances for 2021. This platform includes sophisticated programming that can track and control exactly who is watching a live-streamed video. It also allows high quality audio and video for the viewer. Links and login credentials to Seagle Festival’s 2021 live-streamed performances will be sent through this system via the email address email@example.com, so you should be on the lookout for an email from this address about a week before your selected performance.
Q: Why does Seagle Festival have to license performances, and what does that mean?
A: Most musicals, operas, and plays that are less than 100 years old are protected by some kind of copyright. This copyright ensures that the composer/librettist/playwright’s work can’t be copied or reproduced without their consent, and also ensures that their work is presented in the way they intended it. Most creators have an agreement with one of several licensing agencies that take care of applications, approvals and issuance of performing licenses. In order to legally produce any shows that are under copyright, Seagle Festival must apply for, be approved, and sign a performing license agreement issued by one of these agencies, or the creators themselves.
Q: How much does a show license cost?
A: To support the creators as well as the licensing agencies involved, licensing agreements typically have three primary fees: a licensing fee, a royalty fee, and a rental fee. The licensing fee typically covers the expenses of the licensing agency. The royalty fee pays the creators for their work, and the rental fee allows Seagle Festival to rent scores and scripts to prepare the show. Licensing agreement fees are based on many things, but are pro-rated with a formula that considers how many tickets are expected to be sold for an event, and how much each of those tickets cost. So, a licensing fee for a small theater with inexpensive tickets is much less than the fee for a large theater that has more expensive tickets. A typical musical theater licensing agreement fee for Seagle Festival’s 175 seat theater, expected to sell $40 tickets to 4 performances at 75% capacity is between $4,000-$6,000.
Q: Why do I have to choose a date and time when purchasing my tickets?
A: As noted above, the live-stream performance will be happening on the Oscar Seagle Memorial Theater stage at the same time that you will be watching it, and the streaming platform we’re using requires you to log-in to prove that you have purchased a ticket. Because of those factors, you must choose a date and time to watch your stream. Seagle Festival will not be sending your login credentials until approximately one week before your selected performance. Up until that time, you may call the box-office if you’d like to change your selected date and time.
Q: When do I start watching my performance?
A: The performance will start streaming at the time noted on your ticket. However, you may log in to the stream before that time. We recommend that in case of any unforeseen technical issues, that you login to your stream about 20 minutes before it begins.
Q: What kind of equipment do I need to watch?
A: To give you the best experience, the most important thing you’ll need is a steady and reliable high-speed internet connection. You will access the live-stream via a website link, username, and password, so you will need a computer, tablet, smart phone or other device that can get you to a website and allows you to enter your username and password. While watching, we recommend connecting your device to high quality headphones or speakers for the best sound. If possible, we also recommend connecting your device to your internet via a cable instead of wifi, as cabled connections tend to be faster and more consistent.
Q: Can I watch the performance on my television or Smart TV?
A: If your Smart TV allows you to link directly to a website address, then you should be able to access the link sent in your email and login directly from your Smart TV. If your TV is not THAT smart, but you like the way it looks and sounds, we suggest purchasing a cable that can connect your computer (laptop, tablet, or even smartphone) to your TV, sharing both audio and video signals (fyi-an HDMI cable connects both video and audio). For specifics about what will make your experience better, please feel free to call us, or ask your tech savvy neighbor, friend or relative for advice.
Q: Can I change the date I watch a performance?
A: The ticket you purchase will be for a specific date and time. Seagle Festival will send you the link and your unique login credentials for your selected performance approximately one week in advance. Once that email is sent, you are committed to the selected date and time. Prior to the email, you are welcome to call the box office to exchange your ticket to an alternate performance. Seagle Festival tickets are non-refundable.
Q: What are the costs associated with producing live-streamed performances?
A: In addition to the licensing costs described above, Seagle Festival has invested about $40,000 to purchase specific equipment (cameras, microphones, specialty electronics, etc.), and update some the Oscar Seagle Memorial theater spaces to best fit it to live-stream high quality performances. Seagle Festival will also hire a specific technical staff member dedicated to ensuring the process runs smoothly. Another expense is use of the streaming platform that will host our shows and their fee to ensure only ticketed audience members have access to the stream. All of this is on top of our typical expenses for sets and costumes and the technical theater personnel that make it all run smoothly. Typical set and costume expenses for a Seagle Festival production are between $7,500-$15,000 depending on the size of the show.
Q: Why is the 2021 performance schedule so different?
A: In our typical summer season, we produce four mainstage shows that are performed in roughly two-week intervals, with four performance of each show. This schedule is ideal for the artists rehearsal process, allows for all 32 artists to have both starring and supporting roles, and allows our audiences the flexibility to see each show on a regular schedule. For 2021, since only 16 artists will be participating in each four-week session of the season (see more on that here), we wanted to offer them as many performance opportunities as we could within that condensed period. Rehearsing four shows simultaneously and then performing them in a repertory schedule allowed us to do that. Additionally, since we don’t have the limitations of theater seating for live-streamed performances, we’re confident that the audience members that wish to see each show can be accommodated in fewer performances.
Have a question that’s not answered here? Leave a comment below, or reach out to us by phone or email.