Q: What is a Quarantine Concert?

A: Through Spooky Goose Opera, a Quarantine Concert is a 100% remote concert (usually in a series of 2 or 3 concerts in a weekend). Concerts are set on EST. To be respectful to our performers, we try to keep concert to an hour - an hour and a half. Each performer can sing at least one piece, and typically we open the floor for "encore" performances from anyone who has prepared more than one piece.

Q: How did the Quarantine Concerts become a thing?

A: Founder Aaren Marchi got sick with Covid back in March and was sent home to isolate. The next day, they put a message out to the Spooky Goose Opera Facebook Group asking if anyone would be interested in doing a completely remote concert through Zoom. From there, the team at Spooky Goose began planning and testing how to utilize the Zoom stream to create the same environment and excitement as live performances do - as….this is, in essence, a live performance.

Q: How do you produce the Quarantine Concerts?

A: We utilize 6 different aspects of the internet: Facebook, Google Drive, Zoom, Youtube, Canva, and our company website. 

We have a Facebook Group for Spooky Goose Opera’s Quarantine Concerts where we post information about the upcoming concert.

Google Drive is our company's home base. This is where all the information is stored. We gather all information via google form, we store headshots and bios, track information. Google drive is the bread and butter of the organizational aspect.

Zoom is where all the performers are during the concert. The Zoom meeting is essentially the equivalent of “backstage” for a performance. Aaren Marchi plays the role of the “stream manager” - which is essentially a stage manager. We use the Zoom Chat during the performance to communicate between one another. It’s essentially our green room.

Youtube is where we stream the concert (from Zoom). What you are seeing on Youtube is a live concert. The Youtube chat is a nice element that allows the audience to communicate their “applause” to the performers. We can see what you say as we are broadcasting - usually one of the moderators is also backstage.

Canva is how we make our graphics and, most recently, how Aaren produced the QCS Program.

Last, but not least, we utilize our website as the homebase for all the public information. The program is put on the company website, the stream link is here (this is here). We keep the website updated to ensure there is as little confusion as possible.

Q: So this isn’t a pre-recorded event?

A: Nope! Unless it is announced that there was a MAJOR problem for one of our performers, it is 100% live and 100% remote. Our last two concerts had no pre-recorded videos at all.

Q: How are you able to have piano?

A: We utilize pre-recorded backing tracks and have them played over the speaker at the performers house.

Q: Why do you only use public domain works? 

A: Typically, larger companies will pay to cover the licensing for songs. Because we are under an established non-profit we have to abide by the same licensing laws as other larger professional companies, despite our size and lack of funding.

With that in mind, and since we are primarily an opera organization, we utilize public domain works and original works for our concerts. 

Our base is in the USA, despite having performers all over the world. We follow the copyright laws of the country the performer is in to be safe, with the general stream coming from the USA. We always ere on the side of caution.

Q: Which backing tracks do you have?

A: Similar to the public domain answer, we have to be concerned with licensing (as do all companies). However, since we do not have the financial backing other establishments do, we’ve reached out to make sure we are completely covered for licensing on tracks that aren’t made by our company. We utilize Opera-Karaoke, who graciously covered us on that end for them, the Accompanist App (who covers licensing fees all around for subscribers), and we have 2 Accompanists that work with us to make all the backing tracks completely legal.

Q: What is the best setup for a Quarantine Concert?

A: We’re working on finding the best, and most economical, setup for the Quarantine Concerts. 

What we know right now is it is best to have an external microphone (USB microphone). Aaren has been using a Samson Go-Mic (though, the first time they sang they forgot to select it and ended up using their computer microphone). 

Next is having a bluetooth or external speaker. Aaren already had a JBL Flip speaker, and is a huge fan of JBL and Bose, but any external speaker will do.

An external webcam or camera (routed through a capture card) would be helpful, but because we’re focusing on the voice we tend to skip this as a necessity. Aaren has been researching the best way to connect a phone camera to Zoom and it seems to not work enough in the long run to be worth it for us at the moment.

After that, utilizing the features within Zoom to the best of our abilities is how we work with that.

Zoom just released an update for mobile apps that allow for “original sound” to be utilized, so we will be testing this feature on our upcoming concert. Likewise, other compatible apps to our needs are being developed and updated so we are constantly keeping our eyes open to utilize what is available to us.

We also recently learned that Zoom Pro ($15/mo) doesn't allow for Full 1080p HD calls because of the sheer amount of users on the platform during the pandemic. Even the business ($199/mo) and enterprise accounts ($1,999/mo) are being filtered on the HD front. So, despite our camera quality, it seems it wouldn't matter so we will continue focusing on making the audio the best it can be.

While this is the case, we will still continue with Zoom because we truly enjoy the access it allows us to feel the same performance energy as being in person. The buzz "backstage" is something incredible and cannot be replicated for all platforms available. We truly enjoy the experience Zoom has brought us as a company, and what it allows us to bring to our audience.