Nearly all musicians and bands face the same challenges while building their fan bases—small clubs and bars that require you to pay to play, busted backline equipment, grumpy sound engineers... We've all been there! But, we have good news—there is a new way.
In this blog, we’ll teach you how to live stream music performances, including what gear you’ll need, how to set up a live broadcast and how to make some cash from your performance.
There are a variety of streaming platforms out there right now such as YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming, but in this article, we’ll focus on Twitch as it's the largest live streaming community and offers the most revenue options.
First, let’s take a look at why this monumental cultural shift toward streaming that the world is experiencing can actually be a good thing for musicians.
Why Streaming is the Future of Live Music
Live streaming puts you in control of your show and your sound. You’re no longer limited by the capacity of the club or how many shows you want to play—the world is your venue. The possibility to reach people has never been greater.
With live streaming, you have the ability to interact with your audience on a whole new level, including direct communication with individual audience members as well as the opportunity for your fans to reward you for your performance.
Indeed, streaming offers artists and performers a mechanism to actually get paid to play—not the other way around. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be automatic. As always, you need to be great and deliver your performance with the same level of preparation and passion that you would put into a Friday night headlining spot at CBGB’s (if it was still around...).
This is a new beginning. A chance to break down barriers and reach new audiences. To change the way musicians and fans interact. The good news? All you have to do is what you do best: entertain your fans. The only thing that’s changed is the venue.
What You Need to Start Live Streaming
Yeti X professional USB microphone for streaming.
Just like any gig, a live music stream requires some pre-show setup and a soundcheck. (You’re on your own for catering, though.) Here’s what you need to stream a live music performance.
Audio quality is one of the most important elements of any livestream, but it’s especially important for live music performances. After all, nobody goes to a concert just for the view.
Depending on your performance, you’ll need one or more microphones. For solo singer-songwriter sessions with an acoustic instrument, the fastest, easiest solution is a USB microphone like Yeti X.
Simply plug Yeti X into your computer and try placing it in different positions around the room to find the best sound. Move the mic closer to you for more direct sound, or farther away for more of an ambient sound. Just be careful, as most rooms are not built with acoustics in mind, and can actually make your performance sound worse. To adjust the balance between your voice and instrument, tilt the mic towards one or the other.
Yeti X makes it easier than ever to dial in a professional sound with groundbreaking Blue VO!CE broadcast effects. With Blue VO!CE, you can make Yeti X sound the way you want—from a polished studio sound to the intimate ambiance of a coffee shop.
If you’re performing with multiple people or want to separate vocals and instruments for better control of your sound, it’s best to use XLR microphones like Blackout Spark SL or Baby Bottle SL. However, to control multiple microphones you’ll also need a USB audio interface or mixer.
Simply connect your microphones to the interface and plug the USB cable into your computer for independent control over each channel.
One of the great things about live streaming concerts is that everyone gets the best seat in the house. With a high-quality USB webcam like the Logitech C922, you can stream in broadcast-quality 1080p HD. Best of all, with our Pro Streamer Pack, you can pick up the Logitech C922 webcam alongside Yeti, the world’s #1 USB microphone.
Setting Up a Live Stream
After setting up your hardware, it’s time to configure your streaming software. While there are several options to choose from, we recommend using Streamlabs Desktop.
Based on the popular Open Broadcasting Software platform, Streamlabs Desktop is quick and easy to use—plus, it offers tons of customizable alerts, themes, widgets and more. Best of all, Streamlabs Desktop is available for free on PC and Mac.
Connect your Twitch account.
Create Your Twitch Account
After downloading and installing the Streamlabs Desktop, open up the software and log in to your Twitch account. If you don’t have a Twitch account, you can sign up for free here.
Optimize Your Settings
Choose the Start Fresh option on the right to analyze your Internet speed and computer hardware, and automatically optimize your settings. If you've previously used another streaming software, you can also transfer your settings to Streamlabs Desktop using the Import function on the left. Be sure to close any other apps and browsers for better performance.
Optimize your settings.
Select Your Microphone and Webcam
Make sure your webcam and USB microphone (or recording interface/mixer) are plugged in. Then select the corresponding inputs using the webcam and mic dropdown menus. You will be able to change these inputs from the dashboard as well.
One of the great parts about Streamlabs Desktop is the built-in audio mixer, which lets you balance levels from your mic source, desktop, Streamlabs sound effects and more to create a cohesive listening experience.
Select your microphone and webcam.
Select A Theme
Finally, you’ll need to select a theme for your live stream. Choose from more than 250 free themes that you can customize and give your stream a professional feel and a sleek aesthetic. Themes include animations, banners, graphics and more.
Select a theme for your Twitch channel.
How to Make Money By Live Streaming
Live streaming offers a number of enticing new revenue options. From digital donations to ad revenue and more, here are the ways you can make money live streaming.
Tips and Donations
When it comes to live streaming, the quickest way to start generating revenue is to accept tips or donations. Streamlabs makes it easy to give and accept tips with their virtual tipping system.
Users can tip you via PayPal, Stripe and more directly from your account page at streamlabs.com/YourUserName. Be sure to include a link to this page in your Twitch channel description and direct fans here in between songs.
Blue user Raquel's Streamlabs tip page.
But every performer knows it’s not enough to simply leave out a tip jar. You’ve got to give your fans a reason to engage, interact and contribute.
To make tipping a more rewarding experience for viewers, Streamlabs offers a wide range of useful widgets. To add a widget to your stream, navigate to the All Widgets tab on your Dashboard, select the widget you would like to add, and click Save Settings.
One of the most popular tools for increasing engagement is the Alert Box widget. This handy tool lets you display a custom image or animation on screen every time you receive a tip or donation. Interaction between you and your audience is key to building a community, and the Alert Box offers a chance to interact with your community and personally thank them for supporting you.
Streamlabs Alert Box.
Make your stream even more engaging with the Tip Jar widget, which allows fans to visualize their contributions when sending a tip by dropping coins into a virtual tip jar on screen. The Tip Ticker widget is another great tool that displays the most recent tips across the bottom of the screen to bolster support and interaction.
Another great way to encourage fans to contribute is to set a donation goal. The Donation Goals widget lets you set various on-screen goals and achievements, motivating fans to contribute and reach new milestones.
Thankfully, one element of traditional live shows that still carries over to live streaming is the merch booth.
Post links to your merch store in your channel description to sell records, t-shirts, stickers and other tour swag you have saved up. If you don't have any merch, Streamlabs offers a built-in Merch Store that will put your logo on a wide selection of products and ship them directly to your fans. Best of all, they offer at-cost pricing and don’t take a cut from sales!
You can also direct fans to other platforms such as Patreon for more content, opening up additional streams of revenue.
The largest source of revenue for most streamers comes from subscriptions. Subscribing to a channel offers viewers exclusive rewards such as custom emotes, ad-free viewing and more.
There are four different subscription levels: $4.99, $9.99, $24.99 and Twitch Prime. All Amazon Prime members receive a $4.99 credit each month, which they can use to subscribe to any Twitch streamer. People can even “gift” a sub to others, which can be a great way to expand your fan base!
Just be aware that Affiliates only get to keep 50% of subscription revenue, with the other 50% going to Twitch.
To gain access to subscription revenue opportunities, you’ll need to join the Twitch Affiliate program.
How To Become A Twitch Affiliate
The Twitch Affiliate program is designed for creators who want to earn some extra cash while live streaming. Twitch Affiliates are able to generate revenue through subscriptions, ads and more. In order to become a Twitch Affiliate, you'll need to satisfy the following:
- Stream for 8 hours in the last 30 days.
- Stream on 7 unique days in the last 30 days.
- Reach 3 average viewers days in the last 30 days.
- Reach and maintain at least 50 followers in the last 30 days.
Live streamers can also generate revenue through ads. Every time someone tunes in to your stream, they’re shown an ad. Performers can also trigger ads during a stream as a sort of commercial break.
Ad revenue is generated on a cost per impression basis, or CPM. However, prices can fluctuate between $2 and $10 per 1,000 views. On average, you can expect to make about $250 per 100 subscribers each month via ad revenue.
Build Your Audience
Roshon Fegan performing at Blue Studios with the Blue Bottle XLR condenser microphone.
With this new platform comes new challenges. You can’t play the same setlist 40 nights in a row anymore. You need to make sure your streams are always unique and engaging to keep people coming back night after night. Change up your setlist, debut new songs, or create unique mashups to keep your fans hooked.
Just like traditional gigs, playing in different areas every weekend can be a great way to gain new fans. Streamlabs offers account merging so you can keep tabs on your accounts for Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and more right from your Streamlabs dashboard.
But you know what’s even better than playing a different platform every weekend? Playing them all. While Streamlabs doesn’t support multicasting or simulcasting directly, third-party services like Restream allow you to stream to 30+ platforms at once to maximize your viewership.
But if you don't let your fans know when and where you’re playing, you won't have anyone at your show. Be sure to utilize every tool you have to promote your performance and direct your fans to the right place so they can watch your stream.
As always, the best tools for promotion are social, so maximize your social platforms to help drive stream traffic and be sure to post sharable content that extends your fan base to new eyes and ears.
You can even slice up the best parts of your streams using video editing software and share them to promote future streams! It’s all about finding creative ways to make your channel more entertaining.
Now that you know what gear you’ll need and how to set up, the only thing left to do is start streaming! The music industry has gone through countless changes and musicians have always found a way to adapt. Live streaming may seem a bit weird at first, but with a little rehearsal, it can become a powerful source for generating income from anywhere in the world.