WUD Music Director Jack Snedegar was informed he would be the new leader of the Wisconsin Union Directorate Music Committee one night before UW-Madison shut down campus due to COVID-19 last spring.

Snedegar and his team were forced to begin brainstorming different ways to bring music to the UW student body virtually. Just one month after the shutdown, WUD secured two bands to perform on Instagram live — Glass Beach and Wild Love — and a new series of online concerts came to fruition.

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Despite the initial success of the shows, Snedegar ran into some problems with using Instagram as a streaming platform.

“Instagram live is a tough platform to use.” Snedegar said.  “Streaming happens in low quality, and it’s vertical not horizontal.” 

Snedeagar and his team at WUD Music took the summer to look for new streaming platforms which would not only be able to support professional, high budget concerts, but also support WUD’s culture of collaboration and community interaction.

Snedegar and his team ultimately settled on Twitch as their streaming platform of choice.

We were struggling to figure out a way to sustain our culture, and we thought twitch was the best platform for that because of its chat functionality and its various customizability features.”

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Folk/Blues singer-songwriter Elizabeth Moen was the first artist to perform on WUD’s Twitch on Sept. 10. The concert ran smoothly, although the number of attendees was slightly underwhelming.

But WUD’s next show on Sept. 25, with NYC rapper MIKE, saw the number of audience members skyrocket from ten in the first show to 180 people from all across America.

The show, recorded in Brooklyn, had a large budget and almost no technical errors, but the coolest part about it for Snedegar was the audience participation. MIKE was able to watch the chat while performing and address specific things his fans were saying.

“In the [virtual] live setting performers are able to look at the chat and field questions between songs, something that would never happen in a non-virtual space.”

Snedegar also believes virtual concerts cater to the music lover because the format cuts out potential distractions and focuses on the music quality over all else.

“Attending concerts in person cannot be replicated online, but there are a few pros to having online concerts,” Snedegar said. “You can focus on the audio quality more as speakers are often blown out in concert settings. There are fewer distractions from the audience as well.”

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Next Saturday Oct.10,  Grammy nominated neo-folk singer and songwriter Amysth Kiah will be performing in Sugar Maple’s Virtual Roots & Reasons series on Facebook Live.

For more information about this event, which will feature an online conversation moderated by John Fabke, click here. For more information about WUD and upcoming concerts, click here.