Concerts despite the crisis: the live stream works with this simple technique

Live stream technology for bands and musicians: This is how the fans keep you on the screen during the Corona crisis

The corona pandemic is hitting the creative scene hard. Clubs and locations are closing, events are cancelled. For bands and musicians this means: no concerts and hardly any contact with the fans. Do you feel the same way? The solution: live stream concerts. This way you can get close to your fans from a distance and stream directly into the world in real time from your living room or rehearsal room. And best of all, you don't even need much for it. Fancy a live stream gig? We show what technology you need to get started.

With the right set-up for the live stream concert – an overview:


First of all: A good live stream set-up does not have to be perfect. Five different screens, expensive, sophisticated sound system and a lot of extra specials? Sounds cool – but also expensive and time-consuming, especially for beginners. Better to bake small rolls first. If the camera shakes, it's not the end of the world. There are simple tricks to avoid this and other beginner mistakes such as blurred streams and annoying noise. For example this one:

The right equipment for the audio quality

Let's start with the most important part: the audio quality. Even (or especially) if the fans are only following you via the screen, the sound should of course be all the richer. You need the right microphone for that. Depending on the streaming setup, you can usually integrate your audio interface and work with the microphones that you might already have for your home recordings. Want to stream from a relatively noisy room? Then a dynamic mic is the best choice. Is it very quiet at home or in the studio? Then get yourself a condenser microphone. With a condenser microphone, it is advisable to also (if you don't already have one) buy a shock absorber (spider), since the slightest shock will otherwise lead to background noise. If you want to mix the sound more precisely and, for example, integrate fat reverb effects, you should do this in the signal chain before the interface. Be sure to leave enough headroom when recording. The secret recipe? Not too much gain. In short: keep the peaks of your waveforms around -9 dBFS and your sound body around -18 dBFS – then you are fully on target and avoid clipping and background noise. Would you like to find out more? We have written something for you on the subject of gain staging.

This is how the sound gets into the stream

To record and mix the sound for your live stream, you can basically use the same equipment you use for your live performances: the microphones of your choice and a digital mixer. This is your centrepiece, because this is where all the instruments come together. Connect your instruments to the mixer via XLR/jack (for example: channel 1 – guitar, channel 2 – Singing). The stereo master of your mixed sound goes via XLR cable in a USB audio interface, which is connected to the computer. The interface serves as an audio stream for your streaming app. There is a variety of streaming software available so that you can "mix" the audio and video signals for the stream. The most popular is the open source broadcasting software OSB Studio. The advantage: OSB is relatively self-explanatory and only has the most necessary features. With OSB you can mix your sound, switch camera perspectives and fade in texts as you wish. Top tip, so that the sound is loud enough: put a limiter and a gain controller as a filter on the audio output.

The right streaming platform

If you want to go live, you need a streaming platform. There are a lot of them now– and depending on your ambitions, it may even be worth taking a multi-pronged approach. Among the most popular live streaming platforms are e.g Twitch, Instagram Live, periscope, YouTube Live and Facebook Live. What you choose depends on what and how many people you want to reach.

Quick and easy ...

If it should be uncomplicated, fast and free of charge, live transmission via social media platforms is a good idea. While for YouTube you need a streaming provider like DaCast, you can broadcast via Facebook and Instagram directly from your smartphone or tablet. With Instagram, it works like this: You simply click on the camera icon, swipe to the right and go live. The downside: Your Insta-Live is linked to your stories, which means that only those who follow you will see the stream (but above all: get a notification about it!). Operating via Facebook is also super easy: just click on "Create post" and select "Live Video". The advantage: Unlike Instagram, here you can decide which camera and microphone you want to work with.

You can also save your live stream on Facebook (unlike Instagram) so your fans can follow the digital gig later.

... or a set-up for greater demands?

Actually the platform Twitch is especially popular with gamers. In times of the Corona crisis, however, they discover artists and musicians as an online stage for themselves. The advantage: Membership is free, your fans don't necessarily need an account to follow your gigs. Also great: Not only your own followers are reached and your streams can be saved. In other countries, the platform Stageit is popular. It specialises entirely in concert streams. Unlike Twitch, registration is required here to follow your concert as a fan. Streams cannot be saved, but there is a donation-based paywall so that you earn something as a band.

In general, the more people you want to reach, the more platforms you should use at the same time. This works with the help of so-called simulcasting providers. The big advantage: You are as visible as possible and offer your fans different digital ways to follow your concert. What's more, you can manage the comments that come in via the streaming platforms in one place. This way you can keep track of how many fans are watching you from where.

It doesn't matter whether you decide on one or more platforms in the end: Promote your live stream. The sooner your fans know you're going live, the more will be there. Here you can read more about how to improve your digital DIY music promotion.

A good internet connection

If you don't have a fast internet connection, you still won't get far at your live gig. The quality of your live stream (and thus also your performance) depends entirely on the upload rate ( not download rate!) of your internet connection. The faster your upload, the better the image quality. That means: Make sure that you not only have a fast, but also a constant internet connection – and it's best not to stream from the thickly walled rehearsal room in the basement. You can remember the following numbers for the upload: For a solid resolution (720p) you need at least 3Mbit upload, for FullHD (1080p) at least 6Mbit. More is always better. You can test your bandwidth in good time before the live stream. Terminate all processes on your computer or mobile device that you do not need during the concert.

The right equipment for the picture

If you stream from your living room or rehearsal room out into the world, you naturally want people to see you well. That means you need the right camera. Professional cameras and film lighting are expensive. One reason why many bands (also because it's so quick and easy) use their smartphone cameras. The good thing: it is often completely sufficient. Because smartphone cameras these days deliver solid video quality. But what you definitely need is a tripod, because a stable camera delivers a better picture– and prevents the live stream from constantly being jerky. Also important: Think about the lighting. Sufficient (natural) light delivers better results, but experience has shown that smartphone cameras are at war with dark lighting conditions. If you want to stream easily, you can also rely on internal webcams or conventional external webcams, for example the Logitech C920 HD Pro which can be connected to the computer via USB. If you want to stream with even more quality, you can use video-capable cameras with an existing HDMI/monitor output.

What you should have in mind: You may need additional hardware to connect the camera to the computer.

This is how you can make money with live streaming

No concerts, which often also means: no money. And that's a real problem for musicians and bands–– especially for those of you for whom music is your main source of income. With live streaming you can change that. There are special platforms like Stagetasy, where you can charge admission for your gig. Almost all of the platforms listed above also have the option to add a Paypal donate button and ask fans to donate. Good tip:

Don't just string song after song, but take enough time in between to respond to the comments and questions of your fans.

Use the live stream for some advertising. Are you currently working on a new album? Excellent – because now is the perfect opportunity for an announcement. Did you just release a song? Then encourage the fans to buy.

It's not the perfect solution, though. But hey: At least it helps to scrape together a few bucks (nice side effect: you keep your head above water in times of crisis and finally make live music again). And putting money aside: A live stream offers the opportunity to finally get in touch with the fans again, to show yourself, to share experiences. Tell us how you are doing at the moment and how you are coping with the crisis. That not only comes across as honest and likeable, but also connects. You know: together you are less alone.

With our tips for good live streaming, you can give great gigs even in times of Corona. Then keep on browsing our magazine. There we have a lot more content on the subject of DIY recording about how you can record vocals even better, or how you mix the bass to your liking.

Headergraphic: © The Hirsch Effekt