If it appears to you that everyone is live streaming these days, it’s because you’re not far off. Any industry relying on mass gatherings is facing a shut down at the moment due to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, with comedians, actors, artists and even entrepreneurs relying on live streaming to stay busy, reach their fans, remain connected and also do their part to raise money for the fight against the virus and help those in needs. Yet, for many people live streaming is something fairly new, and it is hard to find reliable live streaming resources in one central place.
Industry veteran Sean Horton, founder of Decibel Festival and Music Lead at DICE, has been researching the subject, putting together a comprehensive document filled with resources aimed to help anyone understand their options when it comes to live streaming.
The document, which you can find here and copied in full below, is regularly updated as Sean continues to gather valuable information to help those venturing into live streaming for the first time.
“The live streaming market is booming amid the COVID-19 quarantine. Over the past three weeks I’ve been researching, testing and inquiring to those more knowledgeable than myself as to the best platforms, software, hardware, practices, resources and partners tied to live broadcasting/streaming. Below is a chronicle of my initial findings thus far, which I will continue to update over the coming weeks in an effort to provide a comprehensive resource for live broadcasting/streaming.” – Sean Horton
Top broadcasters: Insomniac Events, Beatport, Marc Rebillet, Nicolas Jaar and dozens of other musicians and DJs Twitch seems to be very popular in the EDM world, which makes sense considering it launched as a live video streaming service for gaming/gamers. Read THIS article in The Verge for more info.
Advantages: Best revenue share options for broadcasters. Great audio/video quality. Better for DJ sets and prerecorded music, which don’t seem to be getting taken down. Twitch also has a 48 hour live broadcast limit, which is massive. NOTE: This is the best option for a venue and promoter partners for all of these reasons and if they haven’t already, they should each set up a Twitch channel, which only takes a few minutes.
Disadvantages: Unlike FB and IG, there’s not nearly as much visibility. If you have a strong FB or IG following and you’re performing your own music live, FB or IG are likely a better option for you.
Max broadcast time: 48 hours.
Top broadcasters: There are hundreds of partners and artists using YouTube Live, notably COLORS, Dua Lipa, Little Dragon, Metallica, Black Coffee, etc.
Advantages: A more robust platform for quality live streaming with a long broadcast time and revenue share options. You can also reach hundreds of thousands of online viewers at a time.
Disadvantages: Not nearly as strong a social platform as IG or FB, but still a solid option if you’re looking for longer broadcast times and revenue sharing. Like FB Live, they have been taking down and cutting off live streams of DJs (copy-write infringement) so for DJ sets, Twitch and IG Live seem to be the best options.
Max Broadcast time: 12 hours.
Top broadcasters: There are hundreds of artists using IG Live, notably John Legend, Coldplay, Erykah Badu, Questlove, Dnice, James Blake and many others who have been incredibly successful with using their IG following to attract thousands of viewers by just doing a simple post on IG (i.e. “I’ll be going live on IG at 8pm PST today. Tune in”).
Advantages: For individual artists with strong IG followings who aren’t looking for a revenue share or long broadcast limit, IG Live is the best option currently. Also, for DJs, IG hasn’t been policing the DJ sets to my knowledge for copy-write infringement (i.e. Questlove and Dnice). It’s also free and by far the easiest way to do a live broadcast.
Disadvantages: The audio/video quality, format, and options are quite limited because they’re all designed for mobile use. IG Live also has a 1 hour max, which is the shortest broadcast time of the recommended platforms. Also, the live videos only remain up for 24 hours after the ending of the recording, so these are temporary. No revenue share option for the stream per say. That said, there are many ways that IG users monetize through audience engagement.
Max broadcast time: 1 hour, after which time broadcasters need to start a new IG Live stream and viewers will need to click on the IG Live stream again.
Top broadcasters: Similar to IG Live, hundreds of Individual artists with strong FB followings doing easy home broadcasting.
Advantages: For individual artists with strong FB followings who aren’t looking for a revenue share, FB Live is a solid option. It’s also free and fairly easy to use.
Disadvantages: DJ sets are getting taken down due to copy-write infringement. No revenue share option. FB’s influence as a whole has been shifting in recent years and the amount of low quality content does make it sort of a digital cesspool. Finding quality content on FB Live is difficult, which is why it’s important to reference FB Groups with quality curation (see curators/partners section below).
Max broadcast time: 4 hours.
Top broadcasters: Lady Gaga, John Mayer, Nick Jonas all use Periscope regularly, more for talking and daily check-ins. They occasionally do live performances, similar to what they do on IG Live.
Advantages: Periscope is ideal for users with a large Twitter base (direct link with Twitter). Unlike IG live, broadcasters can adjust the settings for your videos to remain up longer than 24 hours.
Disadvantages: The audio/video quality and options are quite low and similar to IG live, the format is designed for mobile. Also similar to IG Live, the videos only remain up for 24 hours by default
Max broadcast time: 24 hours.
Top broadcasters: Designed small/personal groups of friends and coworkers
Advantages: For business applications, Zoom is ideal for live tutorials, training, conference video chats, etc.
Disadvantages: There’s a max number of 100 participants with the Pro Plan (up to 1,000 with the Enterprise Plus account, which is the overall max), which makes it limited in terms of large scale broadcasting. HERE is a link to their four various types of Zoom plans.
Max broadcast time: Basic plan is just 40 minutes, but goes up to a 24 hour limit with the Pro Plan and above.
As outlined above, many of these platforms are restrictive when it comes to streaming pre-recorded music that the performer isn’t paying the rights to use. Some are more forgiving than others, but it’s important to know the legalities behind online streaming. HERE is a comprehensive breakdown of everything you should need to know about live streaming resources as it pertains to licensing. If you’re performing your own music, it’s far easier.
For artists and partners that are interested in live streaming resources, this VIDEO SERIES is incredibly informative. If you’re new to live streaming as a whole, I’d highly recommend watching all three videos in this series, that take you through everything (best hardware, software, practices, platforms, graphics, editings, recording vs streaming, etc.)
Broadcasting via Twitch: tutorial page about live broadcasting on Twitch using OBS
Broadcasting via IG Live: tutorial page about live broadcasting on Instagram
Broadcasting via YouTube: resources page to everything you ever wanted to know about live broadcasting on YouTube
Broadcasting via Facebook Live: quick tutorial page about live broadcasting on Facebook Live
Broadcasting via Periscope: quick tutorial page about live broadcasting on Periscope
Broadcasting via Zoom: quick tutorial page about live broadcasting on Zoom
OBS or Open Broadcaster Software is a free, open-source software for setting up your audio/video controls, scenes, graphics, etc. OBS is essential if you’re using FB Live, Twitch, YouTube Live or really any stream services other than IG Live. OBS also allows you to simultaneously record high-quality video while you are live streaming, which is crucial for reposting your recorded videos afterwards.
Restream allows broadcasters to link their various channels, and stream across all of them simultaneously. There’s a free option for personal accounts (i.e. FB, IG, Twitch, YouTube) and a subscription service for those with business accounts. Highly recommended for anyone looking for live streaming resources for reaching as large an audience as possible.
This list of recommended hardware is NOT professional grade. This will, however, be close enough that any individual artist, partner or venue that wants to dip their toe in the streaming water without having to invest thousands of dollars can do so.
The assumption here is also that you won’t be able to hire out a full production crew (i.e. 2-3 live camera operators, 1-2 audio/video technicians, etc) during COVID-19. All of these products are readily available for order with a quick turnaround on shipping as well, and they’re important live streaming resources for anyone looking to regularly live stream in the coming months.
When the time is right, I will update this list with new hardware options for professional-grade live broadcasting (software and hardware).
Minimum requirements (Mac): macOS Mojave or macOS Catalina or higher running an i5 dual-core CPU and 4GB of RAM
Minimum requirements (PC): Windows 7 Home Premium or higher running an Intel Core i5-4670 or AMD equivalent with 8 GB of DDR3 RAM
The Logitech C920 ($79.99 MSRP) is a standard HD web camera (1080p) for affordable live broadcasting. The recommendation is to purchase two of them and run two scenes via the OBS software. There are far better cameras, but this is a good place to start.
The iRig Stream ($79.99 MSRP) is a standard soundcard/audio interface (24bit) for affordable live broadcasting. There are far better devices, but this is a good place to start.
Minimum 3 Mbps for 480p, 6 Mbps for 720p and 13 Mbps for 1080p is recommended.
As suspected, other ticketing platforms are jumping on the broadcast/streaming opportunities here. AXS seem to be the frontrunner at the moment with VHS, which considering they’re owned by AEG makes perfect sense as they can continue to engage with fans, while supporting their artists, venues and festivals. FYI, many of the links just go to various streaming portals like YouTube.
“With music fans responsibly self-isolating and social distancing and venues on lockdown, artists are finding creative ways to navigate the coronavirus outbreak and its profound impact on the entertainment industries. To help you keep track, Pitchfork is rounding up a daily slate of concert streams, digital gatherings, community support efforts, and other endeavors artists are undertaking to support everyone’s wellness. Check back to this page every day for new listings and recaps.”
Boiler Room’s Streaming from Isolation was one of the earliest and best examples of an online streaming platform stepping up in response to the COVID-19 quarantine. Boiler Room is inevitably in the best position to capitalize on this pandemic and host DJs and performers from around the world with live bedroom performances that reach thousands of fans. Their YouTube channel numbers from previously recorded sets are surely skyrocketing as well.
United We Stream in alliance with ARTE Concert will publish a streaming platform of Berlin´s clubs, event organizers and artists and will put it´s whole spectrum and diversity on one channel. Next to streaming Live Dj-sets, Live-Music and Live-performances, United We Stream will be a platform for discussion rounds, presentations and movies addressing all themes concerning our club culture.
Similar to Boiler Room, BE-AT.TV focuses on live broadcasting, curating and reposting of live sets, predominantly from the underground dance world (House, Techno, Tech House, Deep House). They have been hosting both live sets as well as re-posting previously recorded sets during COVID-19.
The online music store focuses on all types of electronic music and is promoting, curating and hosting the highest profile live COVID-19 stream yet, ReConnect. The live, 24-hour event (on Beatport’s Twitch channel) features some of the biggest names in electronic music (Carl Cox, Rufus Du Sol, Nina Kraviz, Bonobo) and is expected to attract millions of live viewers.
The largest electronic event producer in the world has shifted gears during COVID-19, by opening up and promoting their vault of highly produced live videos from previous festivals like EDC. Like Beatport, they’re using their Twitch Channel. In terms of actually live events, so far they’ve only really focused on previously recorded events.
The biggest COVID-19 live streaming concert so far takes place on March 29th, the iHeartRadio Living Room Concert on Fox, hosted by Elton John and featuring performances by Billie Eilish, Dave Grohl, Lizzo, Alicia Keys and many other of the biggest pop stars on the planet. If this is any indication, iHeartRadio will take the lead on highly produced, mainstream live streaming entertainment and should raise tens of millions in the process for those on the frontline of this pandemic.
YouTube Live has a Featured Live Streams list that covers everything from live comedy, to talks to music performances.
Grammy’s up-to-date curated list (by date) of predominantly live performances across all streaming platforms.
NPR Music’s up-to-date curated list (by date) of predominantly live performances across all streaming platforms.
Billboard’s up-to-date curated list (by date) of predominantly live performances across all streaming platforms.
DoStuff have been well ahead of curating and promoting live online events/streams in each of the 20 cities they’re currently active in. They do so through their app, social channels, website and email lists, which have all pivoted toward their current DoStuffAtHome campaign, which is gaining traction.