Live streaming of music events has become so common that people are getting angry when major acts don’t go virtual.
Eminem caught the wrath of the social media world recently for not allowing the organizers of Coachella 2018 to live stream his closing set from the first weekend of the festival–you can read some of the disappointed and angry Twitter comments here. While big names including Beyoncé and The Weeknd were happy to let Coachella’s now annual live stream extravaganza capture them in full flight, Eminem continued the no-stream policy he began at last year’s Reading Festival in the UK.
This may not be the first time you’ve heard this, but don’t follow Slim Shady’s advice. Live streaming is booming now. Not only have more than 60% of Americans age 18-34 watched a live stream, but more than 40% of them have created a live video broadcast on social media.
In fact, if you’re an emerging solo artist or member of a band looking for exposure, live streaming is arguably the best way to project the energy of your act to a potentially unlimited audience.
With that in mind, here’s how to live stream your band for free.
Start with Social Media
The aim of the live streaming game is to get your sound into the ears of as many people as possible. However, performing to a camera in an otherwise dead room can feel a little strange. So, like most people do, begin your streaming career with a crowd of friends and well-wishers. Facebook Messenger will let you broadcast to 50 people at once over a group video chat that works the same way as a social call between friends. Alternatively, Instagram Go Live lets fans join a live stream already in motion and allows you to call people up to your virtual stage to add their talents to your show.
There’s no shame in starting small and gradually learning the ropes.
Mainstream Streaming for Free
When you’re ready for your feature live stream debut you’ll want to keep costs down, so it’s wise to use one of the big free sites. YouTube Live, You Now, and Facebook Live will all broadcast your band for free and can actively help your event go smoothly. YouTube Live, for example, will let you preview your stream before it goes live, and provides backup streams in case things go wrong. These sites will plaster their name across your broadcast and interrupt you for live ad breaks, but it’s better than paying for a private stream–Livestream, for instance, charges from $75 up to $999 a month for an ad-free, customizable stream.
Get the Right Connection
Live visual communication may be the way of the future, but for right now it makes big demands on your broadband connection and those of your audience. So, forget about using your new 4K webcam because many people can’t download that quality at speed, and leave the pyrotechnics for your arena tour. Just stand and deliver with a good framerate and a 720p broadcast, which still qualifies as HD.
Get the Right Camera
The best webcams currently on the market are all-in-one models with built-in microphones. However, as we’ll outline below, you’d be wise to concentrate just on the visuals when choosing a camera and leave the audio to a standalone mic. Luckily, there are several HD-quality units available designed specifically for streamers. Both the Logitech C922 and the Razer Kiyo are designed to support popular live streaming and editing platforms like XSplit, which is used by sites such as YouTube Live. The C922 even ships with a three-month premium XSplit license. They’ll both stream at a clear 60 frames per second at 720p, and their plug-and-play simplicity means you can easily hook them up to your laptop or desktop.
Get the Right Microphone
Sound is the crucial ingredient in any music broadcast which makes it helpful to use an external microphone to capture the true power of your performance. VC Daily put together a comprehensive guide to live streaming peripherals that has detailed information on the best microphones for streamers, but if you want to project a professional-quality sound, look for a Shure SM7B or the older and cheaper AT3525. Our personal favorite is the Blue Yeti lineup, which has a range of recording options and directional settings, so you can isolate vocals from guitars, and so on.
The acoustics of your room are integral to the sound you capture, so it’s worthwhile to make your room more like a sound booth by building your own egg carton baffles and using the noise-cancellation settings on your microphone. For more on this, see our virtual band post.
How to Live Stream Your Band and Get Paid to Do It
With the right microphone and camera and an online audience with their electronic link or invite in-hand, it’s time to go live. There’s no need to suffer for your art while you wait for the masses to wake up to your genius, though. You can get paid to live stream. YouTube Live and Facebook Live will cut you in on any ad revenue they receive from your stream provided you can hit some base audience levels and watch hours, and YouNow encourages viewers to send live donations during your show.
If you take the time to find the right devices and to learn to play to a camera, there’s really no downside to live streaming your band. You can use one of the major sites for free and post your recorded performance on your own YouTube channel to give your future fans something to pass around to their friends. It only takes one connection with the right online musical mind to set the career of the next Justin Bieber in motion.