A complete guide for live-streaming musicians

It was impossible to imagine, just a few months ago, that everything from small dive bars to huge festivals would be canceled. We are in the middle a pandemic which has essentially cancelled the rest of the year 2020.

With social distancing, orders that can be placed at home, and the uncertainty of when live performances are likely to become a reliable source of revenue again, online solutions have never been more crucial for fan engagement and revenue.

We live in a scary, unpredictable time. You’re a music lover with a creative spirit and resilience in your blood. You will survive this.

You’ve probably noticed that many artists have been streaming live in the past few weeks. This is for a good reason. It’s a great way to build a community and encourage your fans to show their support.

We’ve created this live-streaming guide for musicians so you can learn how to do it.

What music should musicians be streaming?

The most obvious is live performances. They are usually safe for streaming, but now’s the time to be creative and try out different formats and topics. There are many ways to interact with your audience and get them to tune in.

Kendall Creedon is the music and live manager at Scale Management. She says, “People want to get to know an artist for who they really are, rather than just what they can do.” Live streaming allows your audience to interact with you and see parts of your personality they might not have seen before. They’ll soon become the diehard fans that every artist wants.

Home studio tours, Q&As, Masterclasses – if you feel comfortable sharing, go for it! You never know who might be watching. You can mix it up — play a couple of songs and then take a break to chat casually with the audience while you read the comments to call out people and answer questions.

Try to emphasize the live interaction element as much as possible. This will make it feel more personal and intimate rather than just a random YouTube performance they can watch at any time. Give them a reason to come and watch you live so they feel a part of it.

What is the best setup for live streaming?

You should consider the space in which you will be streaming and your specific needs before making any decisions about hardware or software. If you have good acoustics and want to do a simple live stream where you are just talking, you only need your smartphone and a strong and stable internet connection.

Regardless of what you plan to stream live, it’s a good idea to ensure that the lighting and background are well done. This could be something as simple as placing a floor light next to you and a wall or curtain that doesn’t distract behind you.

To make your streaming performance look and sound professional, you should invest in a good microphone and an external high-definition webcam.

A separate webcam is a great way to experiment with different angles, even if you have a good built-in camera. If you can, use an Ethernet connection over WiFi. You’ll have a more stable and faster stream.

You can still make your live stream sound good if you rely on a phone or tablet. Audio adapters that allow you to connect an external microphone to your device are essential accessories.

You can broadcast from Facebook or Instagram. But if you’d like to mix audio sources and overlay graphics and have greater control over the production, then you should use OBS. OBS is compatible with Mac OS, Windows, and Linux. The guides below will help you get started.

What platform should musicians choose to live stream their music?

You can do the same thing on all live-streaming platforms. The platform you choose will make a huge difference to the success of the stream.

Do you receive a lot of engagement on Facebook? They love Twitch. Make it easy for your fans by going live wherever they are already hanging out.

Consider your main goal for the live streaming when choosing the platform.

Do you care if it is a ticketed event?

Do you hope people will donate during the stream of your video?

Do you want to create a stronger sense of community and get to know your fans?

Do you plan to have a highly interactive event, such as a Q&A session or AMA? Or do you prefer a more concert-like experience?

To help you make a decision, here’s an overview of eight popular live-streaming platforms – both free and paid.

Facebook Live

For whom is it most suitable? Artists who have a strong presence on Facebook and are looking for an easy way to livestream.

You can start a stream by using your page, fan page, group page, or streaming software such as OBS.

Can you do a test before going live? Yes. You can set the video display to “only me” and go live.

Can live streams be scheduled in advance? Yes, up to seven days in advance. You can also create Facebook events.

Are notifications sent to your audience by you? Of course.

Is the video saved? Yes. It will be saved on your Facebook page.

How can I monetize this video? You can add a virtual tip jar to your video by adding your PayPal.Me URL, Venmo Username, or link to your site in the description.

Don’t beg people to donate. Set up push notifications to let viewers know that you are grateful for tips.

Instagram Live

For whom is it suitable? Artists who have a strong Instagram following and are looking for a low-key, simple broadcast lasting less than an hour.

How to go live? Scroll down and select “live”. Tap it when ready. (More details here.)

Can you test the site before it goes live? No, but you can record and play back a short video to check the sound and graphics.

Can you schedule live streaming in advance? No.

Are notifications sent to your audience by you? Of course.

Can the video be saved? No. It will disappear in 24 hours (unless you save it immediately to your camera roll after stopping the live stream).

How can I monetize my Facebook Live video? It’s the same idea as Facebook Live but with a donation link or website in your bio.

YouTube Live

For whom is it the best? This is for artists who are looking for a high-resolution live stream (4K support) with built-in revenue-sharing options.

What are your options for going live? You have a lot of choices — Here’s what you need to understand.

Can you do a test before going live? Yes. You can watch a private stream and then play it again.

Can live streams be scheduled in advance? You can schedule live streams for any time and date.

Are notifications sent to subscribers? Yes.

Is the video saved? Yes. It will be saved on your YouTube channel.

If you’re eligible, you can set up a monthly subscription for your YouTube channel.


Does it cost anything? It’s free, but they take a cut of the revenue. It’s usually depending on how much money you make. But for now, they’ve increased all artist payouts up to 80%.

Desktop computer or mobile device? Both.

Who is it best for? Artists who want to reproduce as closely as they can an intimate live performance (and earn income from it)—a 30-minute show with monetization at its center.

How can I go live? Create an account and click on “become performer”. Then click on “performer’s tools” and then “create a Show.”

Can you do a test before going live? Yes. You can do a “Soundcheck” before the live stream.

Is it possible to schedule live streaming in advance? Yes.

Are notifications sent to your audience automatically? No, but you can send an email reminder one day before and one hour prior to your show.

How can I monetize my livestream? The best way is to sell tickets at a fixed price or tickets that you pay what you want. You can receive tips from fans at any time during the live streaming.

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