How to livestream your music: A guide to your platform options
With more people spending time online, livestreaming is one of the best ways to get your music out there today.
Through livestreaming, you can connect with fans across the world, build your profile, get used to playing live, and even raise some funds along the way. As livestreaming grows in popularity, it’s the perfect opportunity to take advantage of all the great platforms available, in order to showcase your work and keep the creative spark alive.
If you’ve never livestreamed before, it can feel a bit intimidating. However, once you get the hang of it, it’s actually really simple – and fun.
To help you get started, we’ve compiled some essential tips and tricks for livestreaming as an artist, as well as a step-by-step guide to get started with the popular platforms out there.
Click on the links below to jump to the relevant section:
- Before you start: essential tips for livestreaming your music
- How to livestream on the most popular platforms
- Checklist for setting up a livestream
Before you start: essential tips for livestreaming your music
Regardless of the platform you choose, there are some important things to keep in mind when you’re livestreaming your music. These practical tips will help you engage with your fans, put on a quality stream, and monetise your work.
Use the best software at your disposal
One of the best parts about livestreaming is that you don’t need to invest in high-quality amps or sound equipment like you would with a stage show. However, it’s still important to get the best quality possible from your stream – and that means having great video and audio.
Most smartphones are capable of producing awesome video footage, and it’s easy to set up a livestream through apps on your device. But while our phones are capable of capturing high-quality footage, they’re not quite so specced up in the audio department.
Rather than use the recording software on your phone, invest in a good quality audio interface and microphone. It’s also worth downloading a broadcast software program, such as Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). This software is free and open-source, and allows you to have more control over the audio quality of your stream, regardless of the device or platform you’re streaming from.
For a rundown on getting the best audio quality when livestreaming, check out this helpful video by fellow musician Lynz Crichton:
Think of it like a conversation, not a performance
When it comes to livestreaming, it’s more like an interactive experience than pure performance. We spoke to music innovation researcher Cherie Hu, who says it’s important for artists to treat livestreaming differently than a gig at a venue.
“Twitch’s head of music strategy, Pat Shah, once described the experience of livestreaming as ‘more like a FaceTime conversation,’ and I think that is such an accurate way of putting it,” said Cherie.
“The goal shouldn’t be just to put on a performance; it should also be to foster community and get truly on the same ‘level’ as your fans in a way that brick-and-mortar concerts simply don’t allow.”
Try to engage with your audience by talking to them throughout the stream. Encourage them to comment, and keep your eye on any questions or messages that pop up through your stream. Remember: unlike a live show, livestreaming is a two-way street.
Try to monetise your streams
You won’t get rich overnight by livestreaming. However, it’s a great way to earn some additional income while doing something you love.
Set up an account with a platform like PayPal, Venmo, GoFundMe or even Patreon. Pop these in all of your social media profile descriptions, so fans have a quick and easy way to support you. At the same time, don’t be afraid to thank your audience and ask for donations during your stream.
Livestreaming is also a great opportunity to show off any cool merch you have. If you have t-shirts or badges, wear them loud and proud. When you’re asking for donations, remind viewers that they can pick up some new items via your online store.
Not quite sure what to say? Here’s a simple way to ask for donations without sounding aggressive or over the top: ‘If you enjoy my music, please consider supporting me through the link on my profile, or pick up some merch through my site.’
Don’t just plug and play
It’s tempting to simply hop online, set up a stream, and start playing. But you’ll get more out of your livestream if you prepare for it like you would a show.
Practice beforehand, do some spring cleaning to declutter the stage, and have a rough set list in mind before starting the stream.
Don’t forget to promote your livestream too. Use your social networks and send out an email newsletter to fans to let them know when you’re playing, and encourage them to spread the word.
Lastly, remember to save a recording of the livestream once you’re done, so people can still enjoy your music even after the stream is over.
How to livestream on the most popular platforms out there
There are a ton of options out there that you can use to stream your music, from social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to dedicated livestreaming options like Twitch. Ultimately, the best option depends on where your existing fan base is, and your streaming goals.
Below, we’ve outlined the most popular platform options out there, as well as a step-by-step guide to streaming on each.
How to livestream on YouTube
YouTube is one of the most popular websites in the entire world, period. Because of this, it’s a great way to get your music out there to (potentially) billions of people.
If you’re wondering how to livestream on YouTube, great news: it’s incredibly easy to start. The first thing you have to do is create a YouTube account. If you already have a Google or Gmail account, you can use that; if not, just click the links on the sign-in page to create a free account.
You won’t be able to stream unless your account is verified, so the next step is to go to the verification page, log in to your account and follow the on-screen instructions.
Once that’s done, click on your account icon in the top right hand corner and go to the YouTube Studio Dashboard. From there, click the red camera ‘CREATE’ icon and select ‘Go live’.
Once you’re in the live menu, hit ‘Stream’. After this, you’ll be presented with all of the options you have to set up your livestream. Once you’ve filled in all of the information, proceed by clicking ‘Create Stream’:
After this, you’ll be presented with a control panel that features your stream settings, stream health, and analytics. You’ll also find your stream key to enter into OBS, if you’re using it. (If you aren’t sure where to find the key, this video explains it.)
After you’ve set up everything in OBS, it’s time to start streaming. Press the ‘Go Live’ button in the top left-hand corner. Once YouTube receives the OBS broadcast, your video and audio will appear on the public page in less than a minute.
How to livestream on Facebook
Like YouTube, Facebook is one of the most popular websites in the entire world, and offers a lot of options if you’re a musician looking to connect with your audience.
The great thing about livestreaming on Facebook is that many of your fans are probably already following you there. This makes it quick and easy to get the word out. And luckily, streaming on Facebook is fairly simple and straightforward.
From your music page, hit ‘Publishing Tools’ from the top menu. From there you will see a drop-down menu on the left and select ‘Videos’.
Then, in the top right corner, pick the ‘+Live’ icon.
If you’re using OBS, you’ll need the stream key, which you can also get from the live menu.
Lastly, fill in all the information about your video and select the right tags so people can find you and your live performance.
Once you have everything set up in both Facebook and OBS, click ‘Go live’ to start broadcasting your performance.
How to livestream on Instagram
Similar to Facebook, Instagram is one of the best channels out there to livestream your music, simply because a lot of your fans are probably already following you there. And the best part is, you can do it all straight from the Instagram app.
Once you’ve got the app open, press the little camera icon in the top left of your Feed or swipe right from anywhere in your Feed.
At the bottom of the screen, you’ll find a number of options including ‘Normal’, ‘Create’, and ‘Live’. Press ‘Live’, and tap the button to get started.
Once you’re in your livestream, the number of viewers will appear at the top of the screen, while the comments will appear at the bottom. If you’re taking a break from playing, hop in and add a comment by tapping Comment at the bottom of the screen. You can even tap a comment and press ‘Pin Comment’ so any new viewers can see it quickly:
When you’re done, just hit ‘End’ on the top right. Instagram will give you the option to download your video and save it to your camera roll, or share it to your Stories.
Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t have a built-in option to stream with your OBS. However, there are some cool features, like the ability to broadcast with a fellow artist using the split-screen option.
It’s simple to add a friend to your livestream: Just press the two smiley faces on the bottom right and select a friend to add. They’ll then be added into your show like so:
How to livestream on Twitch
If you’re a gamer, then you’ve probably heard of Twitch. Twitch is the world’s largest video game streaming platform with millions of monthly visitors. However, the platform has recently been branching out from its core video game offering to other forms of live entertainment, including music.
Twitch has a dedicated Music & Performing Arts channel, which currently has over 2.4 million followers:
While this is far smaller than the other platforms out there, it’s growing fast. In fact, artists like Lil Nas X and deadmau5, among others, have all been using the platform to stream their music.
Because Twitch is designed for livestreaming, getting started is simple. First off, if you’re using OBS or another broadcast software, click on the profile icon in the top right hand corner, and select ‘Settings’.
Once you’re here, navigate to the ‘Channel and Videos’ section:
You’ll find your stream key here:
Paste the key into OBS, configure your settings in the software, and then you’re good to go. Click ‘Start streaming’
If you’re not working with OBS, you can also download Twitch Studio, which is the platform’s very own broadcast software. Install the app, then follow the prompts to configure your mic, webcam, and screen layout for streaming.
After this, you’ll be taken to the stream page. Add any final touches to the layout, then select ‘Start stream’ to start the show.
Once you’re done, select End Stream to wrap it up:
How to livestream on Twitter
Although Twitter is mainly a microblogging platform, it does offer livestreaming via Periscope, which it bought out a few years ago.
To set up a livestream on Twitter with OBS, head into the ‘Settings’ area of the Twitter app, and click on ‘Advanced Sources’, then ‘Periscope Producer’. This will bring up the stream information for you to plug into OBS or another broadcasting software platform.
Put this information into your broadcasting software platform, configure your specs, and start streaming. Once you’ve done that, the ‘Preview Broadcast’
option will turn on:
Preview your stream in the app, and set up your framing. Once you’re ready to go live, click the big red ‘Go Live’ button to start broadcasting. Don’t forget that you can also compose a Tweet at the top, which will accompany your video in the feed:
When you’re done with your livestream, just hit the ‘Stop’ button on the top left hand corner. If you want to save your video, tap ‘Save to camera roll’.
Checklist for setting up a livestream
Getting ready to showcase your music to the world? Make sure you have all your bases covered with this handy checklist to help prepare:
- Clean up any clutter or mess behind you. Keep your frame simple and tidy.
- Ensure you have good lighting set up.
- Test your internet connection to make sure that you can stream high-quality videos with little to no lag.
- Update your social media and website profile links with a link to your PayPal, Venmo, GoFundMe, or Venmo account.
- If you’re using Facebook, create an event to invite people to your stream.
- Have a rough set list in mind before starting the stream, as well as some questions you can ask your audience to prompt engagement.
- Make sure your keyboard and screen are easily within reach in case you need to interact with fans.
Last but not least: have fun with it
Livestreaming might feel stressful at first, but it’s important to take it one stream at a time. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different platforms and set lists, and interact with your fans to find what works best for your viewers.
It’s totally fine if you don’t get a huge audience the first few times you go live. Focus on connecting with your fans, promoting yourself across all your social media channels, and improving day by day.
And above all else, breathe, relax, and try to enjoy yourself. After all, you’re doing what you love: performing your music for your fans.