The musicians guide to live streaming
Updated: Jan 1
If you want to know more about live streaming; this is for you.
Music is a form of expression that has evolved immensely over the course of time. Music is what reminds us of our most nostalgic moments in life. It induces grief but also joy. It provides us with hope and inspires us to look forward to life. It has the power to unite people from the most diverse backgrounds, and to be able to live in an era that allows you to share your expression with the entire world is nothing less than magical. Live streaming is one such technology that enables you to reach out to the world and have your music be heard. It has gradually grown from being a platform that facilitated bigger events only to a platform that you can now use on your phone to share your content worldwide.
Due to social media, live broadcasting has become a go-to feature for every regular user to go live from anywhere and anytime. More and more musicians are using it to create their personal channels to improve their reach among audiences.
What Is Live Streaming?
While streaming is pre-recorded, live streaming refers to the simultaneous recording and live broadcasting of media in the form of audios, videos, or both. The added benefit of a live stream is that it is capable of catering to a vast audience as compared to a live show.
Moreover, it also reduces the burden associated with having a larger venue and sound system. It has the element of spontaneity and also the excitement along with fan interaction. The engagement is much more effective and allows the artists to connect with their fans much more conveniently as compared to an in-person setting that may pose a threat to an artist's security.
Importance of Live Streaming in the Digital Age
Live streaming has never been more important than now, and even though it was already thriving for the last few years or so, its existence is much more relevant in the coronavirus era. Its growing popularity is not a mere coincidence. The world was taking its first steps to operate virtually way before we got stuck with the pandemic.
It does not only have the potential to reach diverse audiences across the globe but also the convenience of doing so with just a click. What's an easier way of driving so much revenue your way? No wonder the live streaming market is rising at a very alarming rate.
The platform also ensures convenience and safety for audiences who otherwise do not get to go to live shows. The audiences that prefer the comfort of their couch instead of making their way through crowds to see their favourite artists are nonetheless the ones who have benefitted from it the most.
Moreover, it allows you to multi-task. There is a lot more simultaneous activity during a live stream than one would like to believe. For instance, a lot of people watching some live content are also more likely to search for the content or its creator through a search engine. They are also more likely to use messaging applications to inform their friends.
Famous Live Streaming Platforms
One of the biggest pros of having a lot of live streaming options to select from is that they all come with their own distinct features. An artist can choose the platform that fits their needs best. Regardless, there are some features one must look out for before choosing a live streaming platform, such as:
- Tools to edit and embed videos,
- The ability and options to monetize content,
- Pricing strategy,
- Availability of streaming facility on different devices,
- Ability to deliver the video without any delays and much more
To find out which features are the most crucial for you, you must establish certain goals you would like to achieve through live streaming. Once you have your priorities set, identify what features or tools would facilitate you in achieving those goals, and finally select the platform based on these factors.
YouTube, unarguably stands as the most renowned platform for live streaming across the globe. Initially famous for its video content that people could easily watch for hours in a day, the platform now offers the live broadcasting option too. Apart from being a platform for video sharing and live broadcasting, it is also quite famous for its search engine that people use the most after Google.
The live streaming service YouTube provides runs by the name of YouTube Live. It is absolutely free of charge to anyone who enables the feature and verifies or confirms their account.
Moreover, there are options to choose from as well, such as using an encoder to stream, using the YouTube application on your phone to stream, or using the webcam on your laptop or PC to stream. However, to get the highest quality stream, an encoder would be your best option as it allows you to put up some video streaming gear.
On the other hand, if you would like something low-key and convenient, you can always use the YouTube mobile application. However, using it on a mobile device would require you to have at least one thousand subscribers.
When it comes to the searchability of content, YouTube easily outplays all the other competitors as it's owned by Google. Searching video content on YouTube is also much more convenient than any other platform, as it tends to make content available forever.
Despite it being one of the most known and relied upon names in the world of live streaming, YouTube Live feature does come with its own set of drawbacks. The biggest drawback you might have to face as a musician is not having control over your content. YouTube can use your work anytime for its advertising purposes.
In addition, it also happens to be one of the most frequently blocked applications across the globe. Currently, it is completely blocked in China, and that could pose a huge problem to musicians who wish to reach a wider audience. Your work will never reach the audiences for whom this website is blocked or does not exist.
In early 2016, the Facebook Live feature was revealed to the public to provide them with live broadcasting opportunities. Even though a lot of people could not utilize the platform fully as they didn't understand it well, many still did.
Sharing video content with friends was also a service provided by the feature with the potential of reaching hundreds and thousands of people. Facebook also modified its algorithm for ranking to facilitate a larger number of videos on the news feeds of different people.
Even if you couldn't watch a friend's live video at that moment, you can always watch it later as the video stays on the wall.
It is simple to use as you can access it on your computer as well as your mobile device as long as they have a camera. All you are required to do is open the Facebook app and tap on "what's on your mind?" following which you have to tap on the bottom right icon. It also allows for high-quality streaming.
Moreover, it is absolutely free of cost, which allows many people to consider it even if it's only for a hobby. The biggest perk of using this platform to enhance your reach is the fact that you already have a certain amount of following, and investing a little more time to gather a larger following doesn't require much effort.
Even though it is free of cost, there aren't enough features for business persons to enjoy as compared to other platforms. Its main drawback is that the Facebook Live content cannot be found easily through search engines such as Google, Yahoo, etc.
Finding older posts is even harder, and it can be a problem in terms of Search Engine Optimization. Your work won't rank anywhere on a search engine unless you have a massive audience on Facebook.
Earlier, there was also an issue of low resolution, which later got resolved and increased up to 1080p. Moreover, the video length is restricted to 90 minutes, which holds back many users from streaming their content. Facebook also does not allow monetization, subscription, and many other things that can prove to be useful for a musician looking to stream live.
Instagram needs no introduction. It has already been very successful in gathering renowned artists for itself. Even world-class musicians like John Legend and Coldplay have done small concerts at home using Instagram, and it is already blowing the market.
The reason why Instagram has been so successful among celebrities, as well as non-celebrities, is because of its ease of use. All you need to have is a good smartphone with a good connection, and with the tap of a button, you can easily go live.
The most apparent con of Instagram live is that it is pretty short. You cannot find it after 24 hours of streaming. Even though Instagram came up with an IGTV option, only the verified accounts can go for up to an hour of videos. Regular users can utilize only ten minutes at maximum.
Periscope is a streaming service currently operating under Twitter and functional on iOS and Android mobile phones.
It has the upper hand as compared to several other streaming applications because the people using it are in constant search of entertainment. It is not only a platform for beginners but also the well-established musicians. It can prove to be a good deal for marketing content effectively if used well.
Periscope also provides enough engagement opportunities between viewers and broadcasters. Viewers can also send hearts on the screen by tapping on it, which makes the broadcaster aware of how much their content was liked. Additionally, musicians can also use it to announce any upcoming gigs, concerts or albums, etc.
The biggest downside to using this application is the breach of privacy. It also lets people know about the time and location of your broadcast, making it more problematic. Even though there are options to privatize the broadcasts and block users, one needs to know how to use them.
Moreover, it can also fall prey to technical problems such as glitches during the broadcast, too much buffering, and pauses throughout the stream. It destroys the fun of watching anything live as users become uninterested in continuing watching with that many glitches.
YouNow is one of the most popular live-streaming platforms for people between the ages of 18 to 25. Most of the people who turn to this platform are usually YouTubers who have had some success on YouTube and decided to try out live streaming. It does give them the added benefit of having some viewers already; however, it's not completely out of the question for starters too.
You can easily stream on your phone or desktop, though the quality may vary. For best quality, a desktop with a decent webcam and USB mixer or mic would work well.
The platform has different categories and a ranking system for them. The categories include "Talk," "Singing," "Bored," "Musician," and if you give it enough time, you can reach the number one spot for the musician category, giving you followers even up to thousands.
In addition to being a decent platform that provides an opportunity for all kinds of musicians, it is also known for being a friendly space for them. Viewers can request the broadcaster to play certain songs, and the musician has the option to do it any way they like. They can do it acoustically, have a karaoke theme, or make use of backtracks. They can also chat and interact with their viewers. There's a lot to choose from, so a musician can do whatever floats their boat.
YouNow requires you to spend a good amount of time streaming live as this is the criteria considered for succeeding in it. However, this requirement could be time-consuming and may hold you back from doing anything else, especially if music isn't something you do full time.
This site mostly caters to mature musicians who are looking to have some good time and interact with their fans while also being able to earn some money. It also provides the option of purchasing tokens that fans can use to give a tip to their favourite artist.
As a musician, you can earn a decent amount through tips and can pay off for any equipment cost you incurred. On Streetjelly, you can test your skills while having fun at the same time. It doesn't require you to be perfect as it has a pretty forgiving environment.
The drawback to using it is that you will require a computer to broadcast with a decent webcam and microphone. Using backtracks can get a bit more complex as you would require a USB interface and a mixer to make them work effectively.
It is always a great idea to regularly market your shows and schedule them as there is already a limited audience, and you wouldn't want them to lose interest. It is also advised to use a pre-planned setlist that you have already practised.
It was started in 2006 by the name of Justin.tv, and it was one of the very first websites for broadcasting and live streaming. Even though it started out as a platform dedicated to video gaming, it went on to become a live streaming platform in 2014. It has a live chat feature that slows you to communicate with your fans at the same time.
It can be accessed on smartphones, PCs, and even smart TVs. If we compare it to YouTube, it does a pretty good job of bringing someone up to the point of getting noticed. News broadcasters have a better chance of being discovered and reaching a larger audience.
Twitch is gaining more and more popularity with each day passing in terms of its music scene, and there is no better time to start than now. The live stream quality is also much better than that of YouTube's. So even if you use the built-in webcam on your laptop, it is going to give you a much better quality with average connectivity as compared to YouTube.
Additionally, its donation feature enables you to earn money as having more followers increases your chances of getting donations through them.
Twitch is popular for being an ideal platform for live streaming. It makes your interaction with your viewers easier and also helps you bring out the best in your content online, but it also has its downsides. The downside is not about its quality but the type of audience it attracts towards itself.
Since it started off as a streaming platform for video games, it is still highly influenced by them. It features gamers more apparently than the musicians.
In addition, there is also very brutal trolling on Twitch, and you need a lot of confidence to be able to brush such comments off, especially during your live stream. Apart from that, it is a pretty decent platform to kickstart your career and be discovered by a larger audience.
How to Monetize Live Music Streams
Live streaming has gained immense popularity among rising as well as established musicians because of the fact that it lets them monetize their streams. There are a number of options if you wish to cash them out. Let's uncover some of the ways of doing so.
1. Revenue From Ads
If you make your mark in the world of live streaming, especially as a musician, you can become partners with many huge platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. It does need you to fulfil certain requirements before being considered as a partner, but once you get through with them, your ads get displayed to millions of people. Generally, this is how you work out monetization your way. The more people you have to watch your live streams, the more you get paid.
Even though most people prefer to subscribe for free, there are many who would be willing to go for paid subscriptions for their favourite artists, eventually adding to their earnings.
With the availability of tipping options on a number of applications, you can earn some extra money. However, donations, especially online ones, are becoming more mainstream and also a reliable way of making money for a musician.
4. Super Chat Option on YouTube
With live streams, the biggest hassle is that of dealing with the comments people keep posting. Especially if you have a following in thousands, it gets extremely hard to respond to or let alone manage those comments. Interaction is barely possible under such circumstances; therefore, YouTube Super Chat was introduced as a lifesaver for such circumstances. It allows only a few people to interact with you as it charges them for sending a pinned chat. The rule is simple. Your comment or chat stays on the screen for a longer time, the more you pay for it. By paying more, you can also use more words to write your comment.
5. More Partnership Opportunities
The COVID-19 era has blessed many musicians with the opportunity to get better revenue, thanks to applications like "Bandsintown." This one charges nothing to help you affiliate with Twitch. Artists on SoundCloud can also get the status of an affiliate as it has partnered with Twitch to help them achieve it faster.
What Equipment Do You Require?
While there are countless platforms that require little to no equipment for a simple live stream, it is better to have your background work done beforehand. Your streaming equipment says a lot about you and how seriously you take music. However, there isn't a lot of complex equipment you need to make a live stream work. The main things you need are a webcam, a PC, a good streaming platform, and some equipment related to music production.
Make sure to work the lighting and background a bit as it does wonders regardless of what your musical content is. This, too, doesn't require you to pour all your money as it can work out even with a simple lamp near you or a neat plain background. However, it is always good to invest in a good audio interface and microphone.
If you have a laptop with a built-in camera, it can provide good quality videos, but a webcam will also give you the option of trying out various angles. To get a better and smoother stream, get an Ethernet connection instead of depending on your Wi-Fi. Live streaming can also be done using a tablet or a phone. All you need is an audio adapter with your external mic to enhance the sound quality.
Applications live Instagram and Facebook are convenient ways of starting a broadcast, but you can also experiment with the graphics, audio, and overall production. There are a plethora of different types of software that are free of cost, such as OBS, for example. All in all, your live stream would be smoother if you have a better PC.
The operating system is not that important as a live stream can also be easily pulled off through a smartphone.
The equipment you must keep on the priority list is the one that is relevant to music production. While everyone's needs are different, it is best to know what suits you as a musician. It is not necessary to have a high-end luxurious studio as a live stream can also be done with nothing more than a guitar. However, it is up to you to decide how far you would like to take it.
The last and equally important thing to look out for is the software you use for live streaming. One of the best ones these days is Streamlabs OBS and also many others. It provides you with many useful features free of cost, such as alerts for donations, merged chat, etc. They also don't require you to have a lot of knowledge about them.
To summarize, all you need for a live stream is a webcam, a smartphone or PC, a live streaming application, and a tad bit of equipment for music production, and you are all set to go live.
Tips for a Good Live Streaming Session
Be Punctual and Consistent
Create a schedule that suits you best and stick to it. It lets your fans know when they can see you next and makes them turn up for it. Be punctual too. Do not wait for more people to join in and start it regardless of the number of people present. Your consistency would help you build better engagement with your audience.
Make Your Sessions Last Longer
Once you start streaming, it might take you a while to find out how long you are capable of entertaining your audience. However, it is better to have a longer stream as it lets more people join the moment they get to know about it. According to streamers who have had some luck with it, you should always go live for an hour, at least, which doesn't necessarily only have to be about playing music. It can be a combination of question and answer session along with some performances, updates about any upcoming albums or tours.
Make it a habit to test your setup as many issues may arise during the live stream, making it hard to control. For starters, test the speed of your internet, then the video and audio settings. Play in front of a friend once to be sure about the sound quality and any avoidable errors. When you are live, keep an eye on the comments as people notify you in case they face some issue with the sound or the video, and it allows you to resolve the matter right away.
Acknowledge Your Fans
Even if you have a smaller fan base, know that they truly value your work, and acknowledge their comments. It is even better to respond to them by using their name. Listen to their requests, answer any relevant questions, and always be thankful to them for joining your session. Make them feel noticed and valued. Let them know that they are a valuable part of your event.
Keep an Eye on the Trends
Always stay in the loop on the latest trends and also refer to any older data that you have. Find out when your audience enjoyed the most or gave the most response or when you had the highest number of views. Such data helps you find out what your audience likes the best.
If you find yourself lost in the amount of information given in this article, you can simply resort to the conclusion for some quick information. To start streaming live, you must do your research about the right platforms.
The ones recommended in this article include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, YouNow, Twitch, Streetjelly, and Periscope. You need a microphone, a webcam, a smartphone or a PC, and some production material to start live streaming.
There are various ways to earn through live streaming, such as ad revenue, partnerships, online tips and donations, paid subscriptions, and YouChat. To be successful as a streamer, you must be consistent and have longer sessions, which can include a performance or two, along with fan interaction, requests, etc.
Try to refer to any data you may have about your fans and their interest patterns in your streams. Make your fans feel relevant and special by reading their comments and acknowledging as many of them as possible. Last but not least, test your audio and video settings with someone before going live.