A musician’s guide to livestreaming

Following on from our advice page How to put on online concerts and gigs, arts entrepreneur David Taylor takes you through the basics of livestreaming; what you need to get set up, the pros and cons of each platform, and how to livestream.

What you need to get set up

  • a mobile phone with an internet connection (it doesn’t need to be wifi)

or

  • a computer (laptop or desktop) with an internet connection, a camera, microphone, and the Google Chrome browser

Although having additional cameras, microphones, lights, and specialised software can help improve the quality, you don’t need them to get started with livestreaming.

Where can you livestream?

The main platforms we’ll cover are YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – although you can’t stream on Twitter or Instagram directly from a computer.

Without using extra software, you can only livestream on one platform at a time, using one device.

Phone or computer?

Both are easy to set up for going live – but it’s definitely easier on mobile. If you want to schedule livestreams you can only do it on a computer.

Using a computer is a better option if you want to engage with your audience with a Q&A, as you can read comments and questions more easily on a bigger screen.

Mobile gives you the option of flipping the camera to film other musicians. If you’re filming yourself you’ll either have to hold your phone, use a stand, or prop it up against something such as a book.

Which platform should you use?

You may think the best place to livestream is the place with the best quality. However, the best place is where you have, or where you want, your followers. If your largest following is on Facebook, it makes sense to livestream from there.

The reason for most platforms only being 720p quality is so that your audience can watch them without lagging or buffering. Even if you have high-speed internet, their experience will depend on how reliable their connection is. YouTube will drop the quality to help the experience.

Below are some of the features, pros and cons of each platform:

YouTube

  • Allows you to livestream on a computer or a phone
  • Offers the highest video quality
  • Allows you to schedule livestreams for any time in the future, which gives your audience notice
  • Audience can comment in real time
  • You can have a ‘live videos’ section on your YouTube channel
  • You can send basic notification reminders to your audience before and during livestreams
  • Your videos will remain afterwards
  • You will need 1000 subscribers to go live on mobile

Facebook

  • Allows you to livestream on a computer or a phone
  • Maximum 720p quality
  • You can schedule livestreams up to seven days in advance, which gives your audience notice
  • You can make Facebook events for live streams to give your audience more information and reminders
  • Audience can comment in real time
  • You can send notification reminders to your audience before and during livestreams
  • Your videos will remain afterwards

Twitter

  • You can only livestream on mobile
  • Maximum 720p quality
  • There is no scheduling function
  • Audience can comment in real time
  • You can send notification reminders to your audience during livestreams (but users have to enable them)
  • Your videos will remain afterwards
  • You can invite guests to join the livestream from their device

Instagram

  • You can only livestream on mobile
  • Maximum 720p quality
  • There is no scheduling function
  • Audience can comment in real time
  • You can send notification reminders to your audience during livestreams
  • Your video will not remain afterwards – they are only available 24 hours
  • You can invite guests to join livestream from their device

How do you livestream?

YouTube: Computer

Make sure you’re using Google Chrome.

Log in to your YouTube account, click on the video camera icon in the top right corner, and choose ‘Go live’.

Add a title and a caption, and select if the video is suitable for children.

Click on ‘MORE OPTIONS’ to double check that the right camera and microphone are selected.

When you’re ready to go, click ‘NEXT’ and then 'GO LIVE'.

YouTube: Phone

You will need to have at least 1,000 subscribers to be eligible to livestream from YouTube on your mobile.

Open the YouTube app and tap the video camera in the top right corner, and then tap ‘GO LIVE’. Fill in the post details and you’re ready to go.

Facebook: Computer

Facebook is in the process of updating this function, so you may have one of two different versions.

On your Facebook page, click ‘Live’ or ‘Live video’.

If you have version one (the new and better version):

Under ‘Get Started’, make sure you change ‘Use stream keys’ to ‘Camera’.

On the left hand side, change ‘Share to your timeline’ to ‘Share to a page you manage’, and choose which page you want to stream from.

Then fill in the post details below and hit ‘Go live’ when you’re ready.

Version one is better for scheduling livestreams, so it might be good to get used to. If you don’t get it automatically, you can still access it here.

If you have version two (the older version):

On the right hand side, choose which page you want to stream from, fill in your post details, check your camera input, and then hit ‘Go Live’ when you’re ready.

Facebook: Phone

Open the Facebook app and on your Facebook page, tap ‘Live’.

Enter a description then tap ‘Start Live Video’ to go live.

If you want to turn the camera round to film something else (such as other musicians), tap the camera flip icon in the top left corner.

Twitter: Phone

Open Twitter and tap the ‘Compose tweet’ icon.

Then tap the camera icon on the left next to recent images. Tap ‘LIVE’.

Fill in the ‘What’s happening?’ section with your livestream title and hit ‘Go LIVE’.

At the top you can change the flash, flip the camera, change to just live audio, and invite guests (you have to be live to invite people).

Instagram: Phone

Open the Instagram app and tap the Stories camera icon in the top left corner.

The live option is on the far left of the options at the bottom, so scroll through until you find it. Tap the circular record button and you’ll be live.

If you want to film other people, the camera flip icon is at the bottom of the screen, and the settings in the top left corner have some additional options.

David Taylor is CEO and Founder of the acclaimed Yorkshire Young Sinfonia (YYS) and runs a daily blog series, 'How to be an online musician and work from home'.

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