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How to Livestream Music: The Artist Network Guide

an artist learning how to live stream music

Music live streaming has witnessed an huge growth in popularity during 2020. Many people point to COVID, forcing people to use conference software such as Zoom. However, as I’ll describe later, live streaming is an industry that has been maturing for years. This guide on ‘How to livestream music’ is intended for both beginners and those artists who may already be live streaming but want to take it to the next level.

Searches for ‘Live Stream Music’ during 2020

What is Live Streaming Music?

Live streaming music enables a performer to capture a performance in real-time. Then, using a computer, a streaming app and a broadband connection, stream the performance to an audience who are watching on a platform, e.g. YouTube, Facebook, Twitch. 

The live stream music flowchart

Technology enables this by reducing the cost of the equipment and providing robust & dependable software and viewing platforms for fans to watch.

As more artists learn how to live stream, and the audience is growing for live streamed music, there is inevitably the question of how to make money from livestreams? 

Despite the drop in price of technology, to live stream a gig can be expensive. To cover these costs artists must learn ways to sell tickets or work with sponsors.

In 2013 I was commissioned by O2 to write a report on music livestreaming. O2 have naming rights for many major venues in the UK, including The O2 Arena, O2 Brixton Academy etc. I looked into the costs, the suppliers, the potential marketplace and the issue around music rights.

The conclusion at the time was there was only a limited market for professionally filmed concerts. The costs were too high for the amount of potential money to be recouped.

Today, things have changed, both for small scale and large scale events.

Why do a Live Stream?

  • A live music stream on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram is an effective way to engage with fans. A performance can be marketed beforehand. The performance can result in a spike of comments and Likes. Plus the video can be archived and edited to create more content for later.
  • A live streaming performance is cheap (at least, a basic one is). Decent equipment has come down in price and some of the most popular software (e.g. OBS, ReStream) is free. Many of the large social media platforms don’t charge for the size of the audience or bandwidth.
  • A live performance enables fans to see a musician in their true environment. The musical skills displayed in a live performance is, at the end of the day, the most important aspect of being a musical artist.

How to Live Stream a Performance

To simplify this guide, I’m grouping music livestreams into 3 broad groups:

  1. Basic: A small, intimate and free performance with one camera, one microphone and one computer. 
  2. Multi-Camera: A performance from a studio, i.e. a controlled environment, involving multiple cameras and mics. 
  3. Full Production: Either, a performance from a live concert at a venue with an audience, or, a rehearsed pre-recorded performance, e.g. Dua Lipa’s ‘Studio 2054’

Hot and Cold Media

Another way to group music livestreams is to consider Marshall McLuhan’s description of ‘Hot’ and ‘Cold’ media. 

Hot media includes TV, Film and the Radio. It relies heavily on the sense to engage, requiring little participation from the viewer, who is happy to be immersed in the experience.

Cold media, including telephone conversations, texting and instant messaging, doesn’t engage the senses so requires more participation from the viewer.

Think of it this way – A basic music live stream (cold), using one camera, may not provide the best sensory experience for the viewer so needs more interaction with the people watching. This could be chat, the artist responding to questions or taking requests from the audience. An artist who does this very well is Calum Jones. He does a regular Livestream using 1 camera, but between songs chats with the audience and answers any questions posted in the chat window.

A full production, such as Due Lipa’s Studio 2054 is ‘Hot’ – dancers, singers, large set design, high quality camera work & audio. It gave viewers a full experience. But it was pre-recorded so there was no interaction with the audience at the time.

showing hot and cold media for live streaming

A Basic Livestream

Streaming a small show with one camera & mic.

At its simplest, to live stream music online you’ll need:

  1. Equipment to capture your performance, e.g a camera (mobile phone), microphone and lights
  2. A computer with streaming software installed, such as Streamlabs OBS.
  3. A profile on a platform such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, Instagram etc
  4. A fast, stable internet connection

Given the limitations of a basic livestream the show is likely to be short duration. I recommend between 30-45 minutes. It’s also inadvisable to sell tickets for a basic show. 

Equipment for Live Streaming Music

The setup for live streaming music is straightforward and has dropped dramatically in price.

There are affiliate links on this page. These enable me to make the money I need to run this blog.

Camera for Live Streaming Music

For my livestreams I bought a cheap vlogging camera by CamVeo. It’s light and easy to use via a USB. However, the quality is what you’d expect from a cheap camera. It’s better than the camera on my desktop but not as good as my Galaxy S9.

My advice, if you think you’ll be doing a live stream with music or vlogging on a regular basis is to get a decent DSLR. This enables you to use a depth of field technique to make your background blurry, throwing you into sharper focus.

Alternatively, don’t go for the cheapest option, like me, and getting buyer’s remorse 🙂

Microphone for Live Streaming Music

My microphone is a SUDOTACK £63.99 from Amazon. It’s fine for speech and is unidirectional. It plugs in via USB and immediately showed up in my Audio Settings as ‘Microphone’.  The other feature which makes it particularly useful as a mic for live streaming music is it comes with an extremely long cable!

Karen Allen, an expert in how to live stream audio, recommends a Shure MV88. This combines a tripod, light, microphone and phone holder for the affordable price of ~£60.

Lighting for Live Streaming Music

I use an 18” ring-light by Fositan but realised after it arrived, it’s far too big for what I need. I hadn’t considered how big 18” in diameter was! For my online tutorials a 12” would have been perfectly acceptable. The ring light has a small fitting to hold the camera in the middle.

However, for a livestream in a bigger room, then I suspect 18” is desirable to fill a bigger space with light. 

Lighting is essential. Don’t rely on bulbs or sunlight coming through a window. Simply see it as an investment to deliver quality livestreams that will benefit you over the longterm. 

Best Live Streaming Music Apps

Although YouTube Live and Facebook Live enable you to use your computer’s webcam to broadcast live, it’s better to use some dedicated software, such as OBS or StreamLabs OBS (different products). 

The advantages of using a streaming app are:

  1. You can add multiple cameras to provide an enhanced viewing experience
  2. You can record the video stream, enabling you to edit the movie
  3. You’re independent of the platform, such as YouTube
  4. Stream to several platforms at once
  5. Mix in different streams, including streams from YouTube!
  6. You can add start and end titles, plus overlays promoting your new release, website etc

The Best Live Streaming Music Apps


OBS

Streamlabs

XSplit

Wirecast

Streamyard

Lightstream

The Server URL and Secret Key

The server URL is the platform you’re sending the stream. I use StreamLabs and select the platform in a dropdown. You need this so your streaming app knows where to send the signal.

Your secret key is to identify you. The platform needs to know which profile is being used, e.g. if I was using Facebook Live then I want my Artist Network profile to host the video. You need to keep your key secret so someone, who isn’t you, can stream to your artist profile. You never know what they might stream!

private key for livestreaming music

I started out using OBS, but have now switched to Streamlabs OBS.

How to Live stream music: OBS & StreamLabs

The reason OBS and StreamLabs are used by so many people is simple; they enable you to do live video streaming and have all the features you need for basic productions. And they’re both free.

In other words, they’re ideal for getting stuck in and experimenting with live streaming.

Professional livestreamers are unlikely to use them since they lack powerful editing features that make a broadcast look highly polished. 

Advice Using OBS

When I started using OBS this is what I discovered:

  • OBS makes my MAC (a MacBook Pro15) sound like it’s going to overheat. Video encoding and streaming are intense on the CPU. When doing a livestream I close every app not being used.
  • The key to OBS is to understand the concept of ‘Scenes’. Each scene takes video and audio from a source. For example, Scene 1 could be video from your camera and audio from your mic. Scene 2 could be video from a different camera and audio from your mic. Scene 3 could be a GIF image overlayed across the video enabling you to do a promo for your new release. By manually switching from scene to scene you create the cutting effect everyone is used to seeing on TV.
  • In addition, a scene can mix together multiple sources. So, for instance, if I’m giving a presentation, I can show a Google Slide slide but show my head in a small box in the lower left of the screen.
  • The OBS software can be used as a Virtual Camera. This is a little tricky to explain, but means, the output from OBS can be fed into an app like Zoom. Then, if you’re doing a stream on Zoom you can use all the effects & tools in OBS, which then appear in your Zoom.
  • You’ll likely need Virtual Cables at some point. I use them to route audio from my DJ software (Traktor) to StreamLabs, then listen to the audio through Bluetooth headphones.

I won’t lie. Using this software can be a steep learning curve. But, like a lot of apps (Pro Logic, Photoshop) or playing an instrument, you dive in, watch some tutorials, piece things together and then get ready to go live.

StreamLabs OBS

I use StreamLabs to give my presentations, mixing slideshows, web pages and my face. I either record them or stream them to The Artist Network’s profile on Facebook.

However, I also use it to stream DJ sets under my artist name, ‘Aaargh! An Alien!” to Twitch. For these, I mix an image of the mixer with dancing scenes I find on YouTube. (Word of warning: I don’t save these because Twitch currently doesn’t have licenses so I don’t want to receive a ‘Take Down’ notice)

Let me repeat, you don’t need to use a streaming app. Platforms like YouTube and Facebook enable you to live stream for free using just your phone. However, if you’re going to do regular livestreams and you want the audio to be high quality, then it’s worth learning how to use it. Failing that, getting someone in your artist network who knows how to use it 🙂

Live Streaming “Native” to Platforms

There is a debate ‘raging’ amongst Live Streamers, whether to stream via an app, such as OBS, or go ‘native’. This means to stream directly to the platform.

The reason for the debate is that using software such as OBS can result in a small delay. It’s not much but it can result in a small lag between people chatting. You’re probably all familiar with it from watching TV. This lag can cause the flow of conversation to be a little stilted. In addition, OBS can sometimes become unstable causing the stream to freeze.

The alternative, streaming direct, means the chat and live feel is more natural.

Jackie Venson live streamed music every day

Texas-based artist, Jackie Venson, live streams almost every day and has accumulated hundreds of thousands of Followers across several platforms. She uses ‘Selfie Mode’ on the camera to see the chat.

Watch Jackie’s manager, Louie Carr, explain the advantages of streaming ‘natively’ to the social media platforms

How to Live Stream Your Music

These are the best platforms to livestream music due to the number of people they can reach, they’re free to use and have an abundance of built-in interaction features.

You can also free livestream directly to sites such as Bandcamp, Stageit and Dice.tv

Alternatively, you can livestream free performances to software such as Zoom or Crowdcast. These enable you to embed a player in your website or be independent of the large social media platforms.

For each of these sites, the best way to live stream music is to take a signal feed from streaming software apps such as OBS.

How to Livestream Music on YouTube

You can monetise through revenue share options, enable ads and even set up a monthly membership, although there are eligibility requirements.

Has important features like the ability to do a test beforehand and save your performance.

The slight downside is the chat features are not as good as Facebook’s. YouTube also encourages fans to buy ‘Super Chats’, which push their messages to the top. Doesn’t sound very egalitarian to me, but that’s the way of the world, I guess 🙂

On YouTube you can only live stream for free direct from your phone if you have over 1,000 subscribers. I’m guessing this is to prevent an ‘average’ person from deciding to stream on a whim. By insisting you have a minimum 1,000 subscribers YouTube must think you’ve got something to lose if you stream something inappropriate?

youtube livestreaming music page

How to Live Stream Music on Facebook

Facebook, on the other hand, allows anyone to stream live from a phone to a Page at the click of a button.

Facebook is the most popular platform for general music livestreams (Source: Pollstar) It has the advantage over YouTube of offering better in-stream chat, comments and Likes. Plus is slightly less restrictive, i.e. you don’t need over 1,00 subscribers to use mobile.

Key Features

  • You can stream from you Fan Page, in a group or with a streaming app like OBS
  • Click ‘only me’ to do a test before going live
  • Schedule gigs 7 days in advance and create a Facebook Event
  • Video can be saved to your Facebook Page. 
  • You can add a Tip Jar by adding a Paypal link.
  • Growth Hack – Link to your website in the description and in the first comment, that you can pin to the top!
  • Sell merchandise. Facebook has very good shop integration
  • Monetise streams using ads and ‘Stars’
  • Explore Facebook Supporters, the equivalent of Patreon

How to Live Stream Music on on Zoom

Zoom isn’t a social network so doesn’t have a ready-made audience. The player doesn’t have great audio or video quality either. The free plan is limited to 100 guests and 40 minutes, which you will quickly find is too restrictive..

What it does have though is the ability to see the audience and for them to see each other. Seeing other fans adds an extra dimension of interactivity and engagement to a performance.

A paid plan gives you far more features, including the ability to stream to Facebook and YouTube.

Bandzoogle offers tools to sell tickets to a Zoom gig.

How to Live Stream Music on Instagram Live

Free, but for mobile-only. The stats for free livestreams are a bit depressing – the average fan only watches for 3 minutes.

Nice and simple to go live (just click ‘Live’) but tricky to do a test beforehand.

I’ve found Instagram is fine for impromptu performances. And of course, the sheer number of people who use IG make it compelling. But it’s better to use ReStream to do a multi-stream and simply include IG as an option.

Live Streaming Music on Twitch

Before I write about Twitch, I must mention this book.

“Twitch For Musicians”, written by Karen Allen, is the definitive guide. Karen provided me with some great advice in the Tips section.

Twitch for musicians - how to do a music livestream

Twitch has been most successful for DJ’s and EDM/Rap producers. Since the platform is primarily for gamers, it’s perhaps not surprising this genre works on this platform. 

The general advice for Twitch is you have to be consistent and work at it. Perform at a regular timeslot, mix up your set and engage with your audience. 

I schedule a performance then create a flyer. Use tags to reach your target audience.

The most alluring feature of Twitch is the in-built monetisation features. The ‘Donate’ culture is already ingrained into Twitch users. In addition, you can earn revenue from subscribers and ad revenue. 

It’s a very attractive platform if your music suits the users, e.g. DnB, EDM, Rap. And if you have an affinity with Games then streaming both through your channel is a strong combination. There is strong potential for collaborations and working with other Twitch creators.

I’m a big fan of Twitch. The major problem is they haven’t signed any licensing deals yet, meaning that while they’re gaining a vast audience using music, they’re not paying the musicians for it.

Can you live stream from your phone?

The simple answer is yes. A decent smartphone has a good camera and can stream directly. Its achilles heel is the internal microphone, which isn’t made for picking up sounds more than a couple of inches away. You can buy external microphones though, e.g. Synco (Amazon)

What is a Multistream?

If you broadcast to YouTube Live, then (obviously) your livestream will be watched on YouTube.

And, if you use Facebook Live, the stream is limited to Facebook.

But why do you have to choose just one platform? Why not broadcast to all platforms at the same time and fans choose whichever they prefer?

what is a livestream multicast

This is called a Multi Stream.

OBS can’t multistream on its own, so you need an additional service.

The most common is Restream.

It’s simple to do. Instead of broadcasting to a platform like YouTube, you send your signal to Restream who then multistream it to up to 30 different platforms, including YouTube, Twitch, Instagram, Facebook and Periscope (Twitter).

Best of all. It’s free for the basic plan.

How to Live Stream a Gig

The growth in small-scale, basic livestreaming gigs is driven by the equipment becoming more affordable, free music streaming apps and the social media platforms making it easy and free to stream live.

world's first album launch livestream

Back in 1999, I set up one of the world’s first gig webcasts. It was with the Irish pop band, B*witched. And it was a nightmare. The apps that exist today weren’t available. It cost us around £5,000, which worked out at approximately a grand per person who watched it. 

Livestreaming has been around for a long time. The recent growth in livestreaming large concerts and pre-recorded shows is driven by additional factors. The catalyst for the resurgence in interest during 2020 is undoubtedly the COVID pandemic. 

What has driven the growth behind live streams?

  • The major social networks enable free viewing platforms to a huge, global audience. Bear in mind, when I started livestreaming music events in the early noughties, we had to pay for bandwidth.
  • The global uptake of 4G makes the mobile phone a viable viewing device for millions of people around the world. The mean download speed of mobile is 35.96 Mbps in 2020, more than enough to make live streaming viable. (Source).
  • Smart TV’s are becoming standard in homes, enabling people to watch shows in comfort or in a group (see chart below)
  • Fans are now familiar with, and trust, paperless ticketing
Household penetration of smart TV sets in the United Kingdom

The pandemic has been catastrophic for the live music industry. Venues, booking agents, promoters, festivals, sound crews, ticket agents, road crew – none of them were able to work from March 2020.

To livestream a gig is more complex than a basic production. It has to look and sound professional. That means hiring specialists with professional cameras, video editing tools and industrial-grade broadband. Plus, if you intend to sell tickets you need to use a third party, such as Eventbrite or Dice.

To perform ANY show you need to book a venue, sell tickets and market the show. Read my article, What Does A Promoter Do, for more insight.

However, for a livestream you need to consider these additional 3 points:

  1. Understand the rights around live streaming
  2. Find a specialist in production and streaming
  3. Think about how you can use the medium when you perform your show

Live Streaming Rights Clearances

The music industry is a minefield when it comes to rights clearances. Unfortunately, live streaming music copyright is probably the most complex of all.

You may wonder what is the difference between, say, the BBC broadcasting Glastonbury and a band livestreaming their gig?

Unfortunately, in the eyes of an IP lawyer, a world of difference. For instance, the BBC pays a blanket license (approx £44m) to PRS and PPL for the rights to broadcast music. The archived footage is available for a limited amount of time. And, there are no adverts being sold around the broadcast.

A live stream on the other hand, could be available on a platform in perpetuity and is surrounded by adverts, earning the platform money which isn’t being shared with the artist, unless a license fee has been agreed with the platform.

What licenses do you need?

You can break the licenses into 3 broad areas:

  • Performance Rights – the right to perform/play a track to an audience
  • Mechanical Rights – the right to make a copy or save a track
  • Master Recording Rights – the right to play the original ‘record label’ version of a track

If you perform a cover, you need a Performance & Mechanical license but not a Master Recording license.

If you’re a DJ, playing music you’ve purchased, you need all three to stream and archive a video of you playing live.

Live streaming is complex because of these 2 points:

1/ Rights Assignment

When a songwriter signs with a Performing Rights Organisation, a publisher or a record label they are, in most cases, assigning IP rights for the duration of the contract (and often for a few years afterwards too). This is the part most musicians struggle with – despite the fact they’re your songs, you need the permission/approval/consent of whoever you signed with to livestream them.

2/ Synchronisation

While platforms such as Facebook and YouTube have signed streaming deals with the PRO’s and Labels, this is simply a broad license for the right to play music. A live stream is classed as a SYNCHRONISATION, which means additional rights are required in order to perform them on video.

If your live set consists of only songs you’ve written, this is usually not a problem. Your publisher, for instance, is unlikely to sue you on your behalf! The problem arises if you perform someone else’s song, e.g. perform a cover version. In this case you need the permission of the covered artist’s publisher.

Sync is an extremely powerful right. It gives the copyright owner, i.e. the songwriter, the ultimate say in whether someone else can use their music in a video. (i.e. sync the music to a video). The vast majority of artists don’t manage this approval case by case – they hand over the control to their publisher. It’s also in the songwriter’s interests for people to perform covers of their songs, since this is how a lot of writers can make more money.

How come there are so many covers on Facebook & YouTube?

Facebook & YouTube use audio watermarking to identify tracks being used without permission. If they find one they will usually issue a Copyright Strike. Your cover version, however, won’t match their audio fingerprint. But this doesn’t mean if they find it they will let it stay online. You’ll likely get a ‘Take Down’ notice and your stream will be deleted or muted.

How does a Livestream differ from a gig?

When you perform at a nightclub, bar, music venue or a festival, the hosting venue will have purchased a license to play music. In fact, they’ve paid two licences – in the UK the PRS (Publishers) and the PPL (Record Labels). That means you can play your music in their venue. Of course, when you set up your amps, you don’t have to worry about this. The licenses are paid annually and cover all music played.

If you play live in that venue to an audience, the license covers that.

But the moment you point a camera towards the stage and record or stream the performance, the venue’s license DOES NOT cover it. A Sync license is required. Publishers and record labels do not give PRO’s the mandate to issue a blanket Sync license. Therefore, no social media platform or music venue can tell you they are ‘covered for live streaming’.

Who pays the licensing fees for a livestream?

Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, TikTok etc do not offer free platforms because they love music. They make billions of dollars from the advertising sold from each view.

Facebook and YouTube pay a live streaming music license fee to rights holders. Twitch and Twitter do not. As a result, Twitch must issue their users with a Takedown Notice if they archive original music on its platform.

In the UK, the PRS offer a limited online music license if you want to feature livestreams on your website. However, because live streams contain audio & video you still need an additional right for synchronization.

As an artist or manager, it’s vital to be aware of live streaming music rights. These are real-world problems that will occur as live streaming music companies build a new business, without precedents or established business models.

TIP: Make sure you ask your music distributor to “White List” all your social media profiles. Otherwise, you could receive a ‘Take Down” notice if you perform your own material!


explaining music publishing

How Much Does it Cost to Livestream a Performance?

As I’ve done previously, it’s important to differentiate a basic livestream from a full-production livestream, since the costs are very different.

A basic livestream is virtually free after the equipment is purchased. 

Camera: £200
Microphone: £150
Lights: £100

Total: £450

To livestream a gig that requires a professional crew and selling tickets, is complex. 

Live Industry Economics

The economics of the live industry mean, if an artist is playing anything below a large arena show, money is tight. 

Consider a 4 piece band, with a hired session musician, playing at the Brixton Academy – a UK mid-sized venue.

live streaming a gig

Capacity 4,900
Ticket price: £30
Total = £147,000

Sounds a lot, right?

Now, take off VAT. Production costs – lights, sound, road crew, tour manager, sound engineer. Travel. Hotels for band and crew. Food. Booking Agent (10%). Manager (20%). Session musician. Stage set. And split it 4 ways. Perhaps you make £20,000 each. 

Don’t forget artists have to pay income tax on earnings, just like everybody else. 

Plus, Brixton is likely the biggest UK show on a tour. And, you can’t do it more than once every 1 or 2 years to avoid burnout. 

It’s a nice living, don’t get me wrong. 

But my point is this: even playing a show like Brixton Academy, which is the pinnacle for most bands, there isn’t a huge pot of money to throw around. 

A production crew filming the gig has to be paid for by someone. If it’s the artist then it’s out of their own pocket. How will they recoup it?

Production Costs

Ric Salmon, Founder of Drift, says one of their shows, which can involve over 100 people, costs in the region of £45,000. To make this viable an artist must sell between 5,000 to 6,000 tickets.

When you consider the potential audience is global perhaps this is achievable. Marketing can be done via Social Media, YouTube and Spotify.

For developing and even mid-size acts, £45k is beyond the budget. However, let’s emphasise again the difference between paid and non-paid. The expectation for a paid gig is far higher than free. 

Could tour crews offer to do livestreams as part of their service? Taking audio from the sound desk, it strikes me, the lighting person, who is highly skilled in triggering the lights, could feasibly direct the video cues too? I’d love to hear from any Lighting crew on this.

The Live Stream Experience

I’ve been involved with live streaming for over 15 years and, until this year, didn’t see a viable market for full-production live streaming. 

As one record company veteran put it to me when I asked him if there was money in livestreaming,

“If there was money in it, don’t you think we’d already be doing it?”

COVID is changing that. 2020 felt like the year livestreaming is reaching the potential it’s always promised. 

So, with that out of the way, let’s start to look at the positives and how the industry changed. Because, if I’m a believer, then you know it’s real and not simply industry vapour.

Livestreaming Statistics

  • Niall Horan, Royal Albert Hall, 127,000 tickets, est. £1.87m in sales
  • Dua Lipa – Studio 2054, 284,000 paid. 5m total views, including 2m in China. Produced by LiveNow, the production costs were estimated at $1.5m. Pre-recorded.
  • Matt Pokora – Omnilive, 20,000 tickets sold, December 8th, Paris Seine Musicale. Live.
  • Kylie Minogue, Nov 7th, 50 minute pre-recorded, not available as archive, estimated 30,000 viewers
  • Laura Marling, 6500 views @ £12 Union Chapel, sales est. £52,740
  • Nick Cave, Alexandra Palace, sales est. £531,596

What Makes a Good Livestream?

Many companies see the main challenge of attracting fans to watch a livestream as providing a level of experience similar to being at the show. However, there are two counter views emerging.

Livestreaming Is Like A DVD

Dua Lipa’s “Studio 2054” and Kylie Minogue’s “Infinite Disco” are examples of Livestreams that were, in fact, pre-recorded. Fans were treated to a lavish production, featuring dazzling sets, stunning choreography and specials guests. However, it wasn’t live. Is this a problem?

Ric Salmon, Founder of Drift: “We originally thought it [livestreaming] was going to be quite a tech-heavy format and platform, in the sense that fans would want to interact with the performers, chat rooms, private rooms, etc. Actually, we’ve found, for the most part, people prefer just to have an incredible viewing experience.””

In addition, Russ Tannen, the chief revenue officer for mobile ticketing platform Dice, provides this interesting analogy. He told Music Ally, “If you are a Manchester United fan, the best experience you can have is to get the ticket for Manchester United and go to Old Trafford,” he said. “The second best experience is probably being in the pub with your mates and watching the game. The third is probably at home, watching it on BT Sports or Sky Sports. “

In other words, everyone accepts watching a gig at home isn’t the same as being there. But it’s still better than missing the show entirely. I agree.

In this sense, perhaps we’re trying to overcomplicate things in our expectation that fans demand features like selecting camera angles, interacting with other fans or taking part in surveys to choose the encore. Like watching football, fans know it’s a broadcast and simply treat it in the same way.

Interactive Livestreaming

On the other hand, the Internet is supposed to be interactive. It enables fans to communicate and engage with the performer in ways that have never been possible before. This is the exciting area that artists are exploring.

My friend, Chris Sice, has worked in the live streaming business for as long as anyone. We both worked on a Jamiroquai livestream from the Shepherd’s Bush Empire back in 2001. Long story, but it didn’t happen because Jay Kay kicked the cameras out. Look – you live and learn from your experiences, right?

Chris says the following about interactive livestreaming and the advantages the Internet offers.

TEN TIPS TO GROW VIRTUAL SHOWS FROM NOVELTY TO MONEY-SPINNER

  1. Start afresh. Think of a livestream as a new format. It’s not live TV or a live concert.Be liberated from the straight-jackets of the past!
  2. Fan participation. Empower fans to shape aspects of the show (but avoid make it gimmicky). Ideas include limited track voting, breaking up the set with questions and fan-created collaborations.
  3. Co-creation. Like Tik-Tok, encourage fan-generated content that can be inserted into the show.
  4. Share the show with your community. For instance, viewing parties where you can watch a show in real-time with friends. Or data visualisations of which tracks other fans are enjoying most.
  5. Format the shows. Live music can sometimes lack narrative hooks that inspire creativity or deeper emotional engagement. Gives fans an insight into the stories behind the music.
  6. Eventise’ the show. Take a look at Taiwanese band, KAO!INC, who performed from a kitchen and asked fans to buy themed food to eat throughout the show.
  1. Merchandise. Shopify enable audiences to ‘see it, click it, buy it’ within a video stream. Artists can find contextual ways to insert merchandise into a show.
  2. A ‘Waterfall’ release strategy. Learn from the movie industry. Start with a trailer. Move to the liveshow. Follow up with on-demand. Then release for wider distribution.
  3. Take a breath on the tech. Don’t use tech or gimmicks simply for the sake of it. Too many buttons, camera angles and options can detract from the experience.
  4. A new world of presentation and immersion. At the opposite end of the scale, green-screens, VR, AR & holograms offer a completely new way for artists to present a live show!

Reproduced with kind permission from Chris. The original article, “TEN TIPS TO GROW VIRTUAL SHOWS FROM NOVELTY TO MONEY-SPINNER“, is a must-read for anyone working in Live Streaming, is on LinkedIn.

Live Streaming Music Companies

Working with experienced experts is the best way to live stream a gig involving a venue, a live audience and selling tickets:

  • LiveNow – also own Leeds United. 
  • OmniLive
  • Drift
  • Dice.tv
  • Stageit

Interestingly, Dice started as a mobile ticketing app, who saw an opportunity to offer Livestreams through their platform. Could we see LiveNation, AEG and WayAhead follow suit in their venues?

When to do a Livestream Gig

Phil Hutcheon, the Founder of Dice, provided some live stream ideas on a Medium post, 20 Things We’ve Learned About Music Live Streaming. He said, “The best selling events have a strong concept or support a specific release/campaign”. 

Examples are:

  • acoustic or alternative live version of an albu
  • an album launch party 
  • album anniversary event 
  • a listening party with the artist 
  • live performance in a beautiful venue
  • proper Q&A with fans that can turn into a podcast

The Waterfall Release Schedule

In December 2020, Water & Music described a ‘Waterfall’ release schedule for a livestream, comparing it to a movie release. This assumes the movie is first released to cinemas, followed by ‘On Demand’, then free to air. 

  1. The Livestream is targeted at the core fanbase, with premium price tickets to watch live, chats, backstage footage, multiple camera angles, etc
  2. Livestream is made available ‘On Demand’, enabling more fans to watch the show but without the interactivity or premium features.
  3. The Livestream is offered to a streaming platform such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. Amazon has the advantage of being able to integrate merch, music services and additional content.
  4. Finally, the livestream could be offered to free-to-air broadcasters.Bear in mind there is a global marketplace of digital channels

Tips for Live Streaming Music

Think of it like a real show: You wouldn’t play every night in your hometown. Don’t put a show on sale then play every night on Instagram Live for free. Don’t put up a series of livestream gigs for sale at the same time. You are way better off putting one show on sale that has a really unique value proposition and a cool marketing video and selling that show out, then immediately announcing another show a couple of weeks later.

Dan Mangan, musician and co-founder of concert platform Side Door


An Interview with Omnilive’s Cyril Zanjac

In my interview with Omnilive’s Founder, Cyril Zanjac, he shared these pearls of wisdom.

  1. Don’t play by the established “TV Rules” when filming a live stream.
  2. TV is top down, internet is bottom up. Listen and engage with fans.
  3. If you want to understand what live streaming is all about, go to Twitch.
  4. It’s not the quality of the output that guarantees success.
  5. There is a gap in the industry for Digital Promoters.
  6. Live streaming offers a way for artists and promoters to build a new business during the COVID crisis.
  7. Live streaming taps into a new audience who like live music but don’t want to attend gigs.
  8. Bigger artists can support smaller bands by offering pre-shows to their main event.
  9. Crowd funding could play a role in financing gigs for smaller bands
  10. Use OBS and a mobile phone to set up a decent quality, cheap live stream.
  11. Talk to the artist early in the process and make rights clearances easier
  12. Doing a worldwide stream can cause conflict with local agreements
  13. There is ample opportunity for brands to get involved with live streams

You control your environment. Use this to your advantage. Make it intimate or personalise the setting. This doesn’t mean a scruffy bedroom. Laura Marling’s gig at the Union Chapel is a good example. Try to make it unique and engage with the fans. Unlike at a gig, where a fan is one of several hundred people, they might be watching you on their own. Make it personal.


Despite the additional layers of complexity, a paid livestream rewards you with higher engagement from your audience. The challenge is to keep the costs down so the ticket break-even number is lower. Combine Crowdcast with Eventbrite as a DIY option. 


Louie Carr: How to Livestream Music Tips

Louie Carr, manager of regular live streamer Jackie Venson, suggests, to increase engagement Use Facebook Premiere;

  • Stream directly to each platform using multiple phones;
  • Make streams regular & consistent;
  • If you can’t do a live stream offer a pre-recorded show;
  • Use the phone’s own mic and use an amp & mixer to get the sound right;
  • The biggest growth is friends sharing with friends; encourage sharing by offering rewards like free live merch.
  • Start each live stream with a BANG! Play music immediately. Don’t tune-up or wait for people. Play the music people came for
  • People will come to a recorded live stream in their own time.
  • Notify your distributor to Whitelist your profiles.
  • Ask for requests, then perform an entire set of requests rather than stick them at the end
  • Join relevant Facebook Groups to promote shows. Use sparingly and don’t spam.
  • Invite people to Like the page while the stream is happening, but don’t overdo it!

How To Livestream Music Advice

Online performances are far more up-close-and-personal than a live show. You will need to talk more in-between songs to prevent awkward silence. If ‘banter’ isn’t your thing maybe answer a couple of pre-prepared questions or talk about the next song?


There is a legal question about keeping the show as on-demand after the performance. If you’re signed with a PRO, it may sound crazy, but you’ve assigned your performance rights to the PRO. The PRO could ask for a fee in return for archiving your own show. Nuts, right? Yep, but to play devil’s advocate, this is the PRO protecting your rights. 


Watching an entire show on a mobile can be a negative experience after a while. Many people will switch to a desktop or, increasingly more likely, their Smart TV. This makes aspects like video quality and good lighting all the more important. 


If you’re not in a position to sell tickets, then consider asking for a donation. There are many ways of giving fans a ‘Tip Jar’, enabling them to donate. The evidence from artists who’ve done this is fans are even more generous than you think.


Experience from livestreams so far is that limited edition merch sells just the same as if it was sold at a physical show. If the livestream is to celebrate an occasion then make some special merch available.


Just like a live show, rehearse and do a soundcheck. Iron out any problems before the time of the show. Have someone whose judgement you trust to watch the dry run. Look out for poor audio, glitches, lagging video, poor lighting and delays.


Promote your show just like a physical show. 

  • Post on Songkick 
  • Pas an event on Facebook 
  • Create a flyer 
  • Use a countdown clock
  • Create a teaser video

Karen Allen Tips

Karen Allen is a livestream veteran. She wrote a book, “Twitch For Musicians”, sharing her experience over 15 years. I asked her advice on how to livestream music since she’s probably got more experience than most other people in the industry:

What is the most common mistake made by artists who start live streaming

For very indie artists, I see them falling down on the production of their stream. Sound quality, lighting, video layout, livestream production software settings, and the vibe of the room they are streaming from all make a big difference in how the audience experiences the stream. None of this is particularly expensive or complicated to set up, it just takes a bit of doing. For established artists, the thing they do that makes me cringe is livestreaming a pre-recorded show. It completely misses the point of being live in the first place which is to engage with the audience in real time and make meaningful connections with them.

What is the thing you’ve learnt from doing what you do that wasn’t obvious when you started?

When I first started streaming on Twitch, I was aghast that there wasn’t a “Go Live” button directly on the site. I had to learn OBS and at least three other streamer services platforms just to produce a stream. I had to make my way through a labyrinth of information from Google searches to figure how it all worked and fit together. That’s the entire reason I wrote Twitch for Musicians. Turns out, using OBS and those service platforms is a way better idea than going live straight from a livestream platform. You have so much more control over the look and feel and engagement with your stream, and the tools you use for Twitch can be applied to Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, ticketed platforms, and many others. 

What is the quickest, easiest way for a band to get started in live-streaming?

Assuming you mean freemium livestreaming and not ticketed, I always tell artists to go watch livestreams before they do one of their own. It’s a completely different way to create content than they are used to and they have to understand the creator-audience dynamic before anything else. Then, just rip off the band-aid and do a stream. Just. Get. Going. Instagram is the easiest to get your feet under you and they probably already have most of their audience there (use a good external mic like a Shure MV88 instead of your phone mic). You could also guest on another artist’s stream who knows what they are doing and has an audience. They’ll need to level up at some point and learn OBS and do a proper stream on a platform that makes sense for them, but that’s my best advice for getting over the initial hump.

Conclusion: How to Livestream Music?

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