The best apps to use when live-streaming for musicians

Image credit: Libby Penner

Musicians are spoilt for choice for platforms to livestream from but here are our recommendations.

Livestreams were on the rise before the pandemic but now they’re more popular than ever and likely to stay. In fact, YouTube saw a 200% increase in live streams in 2020 alone. A variety of artists from underground, too emerging, through to established have been utilizing live streams for over a year now. As our viewing styles have changed the apps that have live-streaming as an option have fine tuned their service for creators. Facebook has even added a feature so that artists can generate income through ticketed livestreams. 

With so many options and with all of them having their advantages it can be difficult to decide where to start. So, we’ve created this handy guide detailing our favorite apps to use when live-streaming. However, as a note, we suggest you check the data of your social media channels and select the one with the most interactions for you.


Facebook Live

Facebook Live is a great tool for musicians and very easy to use. When you want to do a live stream all you need to do is go to the ‘Live Video’ tab on the top of your timeline (on your personal profile), this will take you to a new section where you can either go live or schedule a live event, on your left-hand side you will see who the host is, you can change this to a page you run or a group, or your personal profile. For musicians, we suggest you use the ‘Create Live Video Event’, this way you can build up hype around your stream and boost views. The live stream event page works similarly to the event page for in-person events meaning you can add a banner, artwork, description, etc, as well as interest with fans and potential viewers. Scheduled events are also available in more places and will remind followers and attendees of the event. 

Note: Facebook Live is best for musicians who want to schedule a live stream. 


Instagram Live

Instagram Live is best used for those impulsive live streams where you just want to jam out to your followers. It’s also arguably the easiest one to use and acts as a great way to interact with your fans. Simply go to the stories circle at the top right hand of the app, the bottom menu has options such as Reels, Post, Story, Etc, slide to Live and you’re good to go. On the left-hand side, there is a fundraiser bar in case you want to earn money for charity and an option to add a title to your live stream, make sure this is punchy, something like ‘Livestreaming new music, come join me!’ Instagram will also tell you how many people are active who follow you as well at the top, this helps you judge the best time to go live. Although you can’t schedule live streams like Facebook you can use all the tools Instagram offers to self-schedule and promote one, post on your timeline, stories, and reels to remind followers when you’re going live. In addition to this, you can also go live with other creatives and channels. This is very easy to do, simply tap the + icon when your streaming and invite the person or channel you wish to collaborate with. 

Note: Instagram Live is the most varied and easiest app to use that has plenty of tools at your disposal. 


YouTube

YouTube’s live-streaming function has been growing in popularity recently, with a lot of Twitch streamers jumping over. It’s also being utilized by musicians too, especially as it has a lot of great functions such as a chatbox, encoder abilities, and more. The only issue is that for your first attempt at live-streaming you have to request permission and this can take up to 24 hours, however once approved it’s as instant and easy as any other app. Another note is that to live stream with your mobile or tablet you will need at least 1,000 subscribers. To live stream via your browser all you need to do is go to YouTube, on the top right click ‘Create’, then click ‘Go Live’. It’s as easy as that, once you’ve been enabled of course. 

Note: A great platform with a massive audience but there are a few hoops to jump through to start. 


TikTok

Going live on TikTok is great for two reasons, it allows you to engage with your followers in real-time, and two means you can create longer-form video content for your fans on the app. Like YouTube there are some requirements you need to fulfill first and that is that you are 16 years and older and have more than 1,000 followers. However, once this is done going live is very easy, simply tap the ‘Create’ icon to access the ‘LIVE’ screen, swipe to live navigation, pick an image, and write a title for your stream. When ready, press ‘Go LIVE’ and then the live stream will begin. There are also options to change a variety of settings, such as flipping the camera, adding effects, filtering comments, and even adding up to 20 moderators. The audience can also send creators virtual gifts which can then be exchanged for funds. 

Note: Great for interacting with your fans but does have requirements to fill before you can live stream. 


Twitch 

Twitch is arguably the home of live streams, it’s where it all started in a lot of ways, especially for gaming content. However, as the platform has evolved, it now has a booming music section. Signing up for Twitch is simple, all you need to do is create your account, be sure to name it something similar to your socials so people can find you, verify and you’re signed up. The next step is going live, this is just as easy too, set a title for your stream and choose the music category. It’s as simple as that and the potential audience is massive. Be sure to alert your fans and followers you’ll be streaming there and try to make it as regular as possible, this way you can sign up for the Twitch Partner Program, meaning you can start earning from your live streams. 

Note: Extremely popular live stream platform with a huge potential audience but can take a while to build momentum. 


Music journalist and photojournalist based in Cornwall.

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