Do you want to set up a virtual performance in real-time? With TeenStar 2020 going live online, what’s the best way to stream as a singer or musician?
Learning how to live stream as a musician or singer will allow you to showcase your talent to anyone, anywhere at pretty much any time you want. It’s also important to have the right equipment and set up the space to make you look and sound as perfect as possible.
Read on for lots of useful tips, professional hints and practical guidance for creating live streams that will take you on a path to music industry success.
How to live stream as a musician or singer
A live stream is media recorded and broadcasted in real-time to an audience – they watch it as you play it. It will almost always be in video format, so your visuals (as well as your audio) should be as top-notch as you can manage. This is very achievable with a smartphone and some basic equipment. As long as your content is appropriate it’s perfectly legal and a great way to reach your fans. And you don’t even need to leave home to do it.
Live streaming for musicians
A live stream or live streaming is not to be confused with streaming services and streaming music. This is where listeners click on your pre-recorded to tracks to listen to them over WiFi or mobile data. A live stream, on the other hand, is happening for the first time when viewed. You can find out more about music streaming sites and how they affect the music industry in this article.
How do I stream live music?
Here are the steps you’ll need to take to set up a public live stream.
- Choose a platform on which to host the stream.
- Set a date and time. Think carefully about this. You want to do it when you can get as many people watching as possible, but without competing with other prime time entertainment.
- Check you’ve got the necessary equipment.
- Set up an event for it on Facebook.
- Advertise, promote and share it on your social media.
- Set up the camera, room and backdrop for your video.
- Carry out the audio and visual tests and checks ahead of the stream.
- Post-last-minute reminders to your audience.
- Go live.
Live streaming equipment for musicians
What equipment do you need to stream effectively?
In theory, you can just sing to a basic smartphone if that’s all you have. You can also use a laptop with a camera. One of the benefits of using a smartphone rather than a laptop is that you can flip it to show you and the opposite view too – ideal if you’re singing with other musicians. Ideally, you should also get a selfie stick or stand, a separate mic and sound app and some lighting. If you have the budget to invest in a new laptop or smartphone, these are some of The Tech Mag’s best buys.
Another benefit of using your smartphone, is the apps available, such as Dolby On. With this, you don’t need a bunch of expensive kits, you simply download it for automatic stereo widening, dynamic EQ, sound effects and background noise reduction.
Top basic filming tips for recording on your phone
- Ensure your camera lens is clean. This may seem obvious, but it could help prevent a blurred or unclear image.
- Make sure you have a good source of lighting. Consider investing in a ring light and test what looks best.
- Think about how you can enhance your background. This is a good chance to be creative and add some branding, so try adding something musical in the back, like an instrument, or some fairy lights. However, also make sure it’s not too distracting or cluttered.
- Ensure you have enough storage space on your phone and a full battery. You don’t want to nail your performance only to find you haven’t captured it.
- Take care to record clear, high-quality audio and ensure there’s no background noise.
- Practice makes perfect. Analyse and refine your performance, so that when it’s time to record yourself, you’ll be well-rehearsed and ready to put on a flawless show.
Do you need a microphone to stream?
No, but you’ll sound better if you do, especially if you have a more poppy electronic song, as opposed to a folk or country style. If you don’t already have a mic and plan to do this regularly, it might be worth investing in one specifically for the purpose. These are some of the 2020 best buys for streaming according to PC Gamer.
- Blue Yeti X
- HyperX HX-MICQC-BK QuadCast –…
- Rode NT-USB mini USB…
- Blue Yeti Nano
- Razer Seiren X
- AntLion Audio ModMic
You’ll also need some lighting, primarily so it’s bright enough, but also to create an ambience. This can be as simple as using lamps from your home to create a stage-like atmosphere, putting up some fairy lights for a cosy feel and lighting some candles. You may need to turn up the resolution on your camera, so it’s not too dim for viewers.
Here are some more audio and video tips for live streaming as a musician, including how to record using the tech and bits and pieces you already have at home.
Live music video streaming considerations
There are some more factors you’ll need to consider before going live. Unlike recording, you won’t get a second chance so be sure to prepare to avoid embarrassing interruptions, mistakes and poor quality.
- Visual background. Make your own set. This can be really fun and it only needs to fit just a little further than the size of the shot. So get creative. Use materials, or make your own camera gauze, lens or gel with craft supplies. Or perhaps you have a cool corner of your house you can dress up. You can also use free online filters.
- Audio background. Ask your parents and siblings to be quiet while you’re singing live. You may need to confine pets to the garden (unless you’re shooting out there) and turn off appliances that emit white noise, like washing machines, dishwashers and TVs.
- Camera positioning. Choose a flattering angle that gets everything you want in the shot. Test it by recording a trial piece in the exact position. You can buy stands and stocks to hold your phone, or prop it up on books and ornaments (just be sure it’s stable!).
- Internet connection. This is vital. Make sure you have a stable, uninterrupted source of internet. If you can get a superfast fibreoptic connection all the better. If you’re using mobile data make sure you won’t run out halfway through.
- Your clothes. You’ve been so busy setting up the room that you’ve forgotten to set yourself up! Just because you’re on camera doesn’t mean you don’t make an effort on your appearance. In fact, you should make it even more impressive by matching your clothes style to your backdrop and really setting a vibe for your video. Makeup is important on camera, especially if you’re using extra lighting. So it’s worth checking out some tutorials to make your eyes pop and find colours that work well.
Live stream your band
If there’s a bunch of you it can get a bit more complex as you’ll need to manage your levels – especially if using electric instruments. Should you be lucky enough to have an audio mixer, you can connect this to your laptop via the USB connection. Then download OBS or SLOBS software, this will enable you to set levels and mix. If you have someone else with you, they then operate this while you go live. You’ll need to do a lot of testing in terms of your mic placing so that you’re getting a balanced sound. Or opt for a paired back acoustic set with just on emic at the front.
Other live mixing software systems you might want to try out, include Voicemeeter Banana, Adobe Audition, Traktor Pro 3.
If you’re in different places, you can use a video conferencing site to add in each of your shots simultaneously. Here are John Legend and Sam Smith doing just this.
The best live streaming platform for musicians 2020
Let’s take a look at the most popular and useful platforms for you to use as a musician. While there are lots more you can consider, it’s better to stick to the big ones. These are:
The first two are the most prolifically used among major singers. If you start a live stream on an obscure channel, fewer people will know it’s happening and find you. So stay where your followers and where music fans hang out online.
Facebook live for musicians
If you already have lots of followers on Facebook, this is a great option. They may just happen upon your stream while scrolling through their feed. But you can also remind them it’s happening via events and updates. So what’s the lowdown on Facebook live?
It allows you to go live on a computer or a phone up to a maximum 720p quality. You can schedule live streams up to seven days in advance, which gives your audience time to plan.
You can make Facebook events for live streams to give your audience more information and reminders and watchers can comment in real-time, so you can interact and answer their questions. This creates a really personal feel to the event. You can send notification reminders to your audience before and during live streams and the videos will be saved to your profile, so you can use them again and show them to people.
Live stream on YouTube
Hopefully, you’ll have an active YouTube account with great homemade music videos and some subscribers already. This platform offers the highest video quality and is very popular with both musicians and labels scouting new talent. It allows you to schedule live streams for any time in the future, which gives your audience notice and your as per Facebook, your audience can comment in real-time.
You can create a ‘live videos’ section on your YouTube channel which is a great way to sort your work and keep the live streams in one place. But there’s a significant downside if you’re just starting out and don’t have a decent laptop – you will need 1000 subscribers to go live on mobile. In which case, you’re better using Facebook live.
Twitch for musicians
This platform – widely used by gamers – is a little different. It’s less used than the others for music, which gives it pros and cons. You’ll need to work on a building up relationships with people in the Twitch community and attracting fans. You can schedule live streams and take requests. It’s also really important to get to know other live streamers.
Once your set is done, you can send your watchers to another steamer going live – this is called a raid. That way they piggyback on your fans and vice versa (if they repay the favour), increasing your reach. You can find out more about Twitch here.
If you decide to use Twitter or Instagram you’ll only be able to use your mobile at maximum 720p quality. You can’t schedule from either, but if using Twitter you will be able to keep your live stream afterwards. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them. Cover every base. But focus o the ones that’ll get you more publicity and have the best functionality for musicians. You can refer to each platform’s help section for instructions on how to begin a live stream, but it’s pretty self-explanatory.
Before you go live, be it on social media or via video chat/conferencing be sure to check your network connection, your camera angle and that all your equipment is working properly. Ask any flatmates or family members to keep it down and not interrupt you – and give it everything you’ve got because you never know who might be tuning in.
- How do I set up a live music performance?
If it’s on online performance, organise a live stream as described in this article. If it’s a gig at a venue, you’ll need to book and advertise it (and sell tickets if applicable). You could also organise an open mic or jam night, or a local festival. Sites like Skiddle and Eventbrite are useful.
- How do you jam with other musicians online?
You can do this via a video conferencing app like Zoom, Houseparty, Skype or Microsoft Teams. Someone starts a call and adds others, or sends an invite link. This allows you to play at different locations but together, as you can see and hear each other.
- How do musicians use social media?
This is a key tool for musicians to promote their work. Many artists are now discovered on platforms like YouTube and by sharing their music on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Make sure you have a strong presence on all the channels and put together a solid campaign plan.
Do you have any tips for how best to live stream as a musician or singer? Let us know and share your own videos in the comments below.