Here’s a complete technical guide to set up your desktop or laptop to live stream as a musician or singer. The entire cost to set up is virtually free. It is meant to help you create live streaming gigs that look and sound professional unlike those using your phone or built-in mic on your PC.
This guide is divided into two different setups – basic and advanced configurations. The basic setup has a lower difficulty level while the advanced version is more technical but more rewarding by offering flexible audio and sound settings via third-party live streaming software.
Green screen – Used to create a nice looking background when you stream. The backdrop can even be animated. Not free.
Sound mixer – Not free but required if you want to connect your instrument or multiple mics to your PC.
Check if you have an Internet connection with at least 3 MBps upload speed. You can do a speed test at nPerf. You can try streaming with 1 Mbps but you won’t be able to offer any HD resolution and prepare for buffering experience.
Connect your external microphone to your PC.
Go and login to your YouTube, Facebook or Twitch account.
Basic setup to live stream with YouTube
Before you begin, ensure you already set up a YouTube channel. While you are logged in to the site, click on the camcorder icon on the top right corner and select Go live. If YouTube requests for permission to use your mic and webcam, click Allow.
Next, if you are accessing the YouTube Live Control Room for the first time, you should see a page like below. You can choose to start your live stream at this moment or schedule it for later. For this tutorial, choose right now but don’t worry, you will not go live immediately.
Next, you should see a screen like below. The default setting shall use your webcam and default microphone on your PC. Thus, you need to set your external microphone as your current active mic.
Then, give your live stream a title and choose the visibility according to the below.
Public – Viewable by anyone on YouTube and is searchable on YouTube.
Unlisted – Only those who know your live stream URL could view it. Choose this setting for this tutorial.
Your visibility selection is important if you are performing private live streams for bookings. For this, you’re recommended to use unlisted visibility and share the URL only with your client who booked you. They could choose to keep the link private to themselves or share with anyone they wish.
For audience selection, “made for kids” basically means no one can leave any comments on your live stream while “not made for kids” simply means anyone can comment.
Once you are done, click Next at the bottom right side. You will then be asked to upload a thumbnail for the live stream. YouTube could take a photo of you on the spot or you can upload your own image.
Once you are ready, press Go Live. That’s it and start singing!
Advanced setup to live stream with YouTube using OBS Studio
The difference between a basic setup and advanced setup is that in an advanced configuration, you should use a live streaming software such as the free OBS Studio software (or StreamLabs) which allows you to have unlimited settings such as,
Adjusting your screen or sound settings such as adding sound filters, noise suppressor, equalizer, etc.
Below is a quick video tutorial to show you how it’s done or if you prefer an article guide, read on.
Firstly, you need to download the free OBS Studio software and install it. Please ensure your PC has sufficient resources (CPU, RAM, free disk space) to do proper streaming. We should do a stream test before going live.
If you’re using OBS Studio for the first time, the auto-configuration wizard should appear. If so, follow this tutorial.
Then, log in to YouTube and click on the camcorder icon on the top right corner and select Go live. You can just allow the use of mic and webcam requested by YouTube but we’re not going to use those.
Next, click on the Stream tab on the left side and you will see the pop-up window shown below. Enter your live stream title, description, etc. For this tutorial, you should change visibility from public to unlisted. Then, click on Save button at the bottom right corner (you might need to scroll down a little to see the button).
After clicking the Save button, you should see a screen like below. Here’s where it gets a bit technical. At the bottom left corner, you need to copy the stream key by pressing Copy. The stream key should look something like a6c5-bvh8-f12u-0wjq-4185 but your key should be uniquely different. Click on the eye icon to reveal your key. This key is used to uniquely identify your video and audio feed coming from your OBS Studio to YouTube’s streaming server, like an ID for your live stream. So, after copying the stream key, you need to paste it on OBS Studio. Read on.
Return to OBS Studio, click on Settings at the bottom right side of the main screen, as depicted in the screenshot below.
Once you clicked on Settings, you will see a pop-up as shown below. Click on the Stream tab and set the configuration as below.
Service: YouTube / YouTube Gaming
Server: Primary YouTube ingest server
Stream Key: Paste the YouTube key you previously copied right here
Then, click on OK.
To test your configuration, on OBS Studio main screen, click on Start Streaming at the bottom right side (don’t worry, no one can view your stream yet).
Then, return to YouTube’s previous stream page and wait for more or less 10 seconds. Soon, you should see a page such as below with your PC stream on the left screen on the page. You can hit the GO LIVE button on the top right corner to start your live stream.
Configure your external microphone on OBS Studio
In OBS Studio, click on Settings at the bottom right corner (as shown in the screenshot above) and then click on the Audio tab (on the left side of the Settings pop-up window). You will then see multiple dropdown menus for Mic/Auxiliary Audio with option 2, 3 and 4. This allows you to input many microphones. Click on the first option as depicted below and select your external microphone. Then, click OK.
To check if your mic is working, try talking into your mic and see if the microphone VU (volume unit) meter is moving as shown below. If it moves, you know it works.
Basic setup to live stream with Facebook
NOTE: It is very complicated to share an unlisted Facebook live video to a client who booked you to live stream specifically to them. Please consult with them prior to choosing Facebook.
This basic setup guide will use your webcam and default microphone to live stream. While you’re logged-in on Facebook, click on the Live video link at the “What’s on your mind” box.
If it is your first attempt to create a live video, you should see an introduction page as depicted below. Your browser will also ask for your permission to use the webcam and mic on Facebook site. Click on Allow for both.
Then, click on Next, and on the subsequent screen, choose Use Camera, as shown below to use your webcam to stream. Click Done on the next screen.
Now, you should be able to see your own face from the webcam on Facebook Live Producer page. From now, it gets very tricky.
You can choose to broadcast online on your Facebook profile or Page. You should select your Facebook Page if you intend to share it with your client who booked you to live stream. However, you cannot make an online stream to be hidden from your Facebook Page. This means your followers will be able to view your private live stream too, thus your client who paid you may not like this. Please consult with them prior to choose Facebook.
Otherwise, you can create a live stream on your Facebook profile, but you need to add your client as your Facebook friend and dedicated that stream to them only. Seems like a lot of work because there isn’t a convenient way to share an unlisted (hidden) live stream on Facebook, unlike YouTube.
To test your live stream, under privacy settings, choose Only Me so that only you could view the stream by yourself.
View the screenshot below for further instructions. Once you are ready to go live, click on the Go Live button located at the bottom left corner.
If you prefer to go live at a later date and time, this basic setup would not work because Facebook only supports scheduled live events using external online broadcasting software like OBS Studio.
Advanced setup to live stream with Facebook using OBS Studio
If you’re using the old version of Facebook, on the “What’s on your mind” box, click on the three dots and choose Live Video. On the new version, just click on Live video.
On the next screen, under the Stream Setup tab, find the Camera menu and select Use stream keys, as shown below in the old version. But the new version looks almost the same.
Copy the stream key by clicking on the Copy button.
Then, go to OBS Studio and click on Settings at the bottom right. Select the Stream tab and choose Facebook Live as the Service. And paste the stream key as shown below and click OK. Then, click Start Streaming at the bottom right corner.
Return to Facebook and wait. Give it 10 seconds or more and you should see a screen like below where the live stream from OBS Studio is shown on Facebook. Remember to give your live stream a title and description.
You can hit Go Live button at the bottom left corner to start streaming or choose to schedule your virtual gig. You should add a thumbnail for that.
Advanced setup to live stream with Twitch using OBS Studio
Twitch does not come with a basic setup using only a webcam and microphone. You must use live streaming software such as Twitch Studio or OBS Studio. If you prefer to use Twitch to stream, you can follow the video tutorial below.
Use phone camera for live streaming instead of webcam
For this, we shall be using the DroidCam Android and iOS app. This tutorial only works for those with Android or iOS device and Windows or Linux PC. Mac OS is not supported by DroidCam. For die-hard Apple fans, you can use the EpocCam iOS app which supports iOS and the software client for Mac. Here’re the text and video tutorials for that.
First, you need to download and install the DroidCam app on your phone. Here’re the Android and iOS versions. Do note that DroidCam comes with the free (no HD and with ads) and pro paid version (with HD and no ads). For now, let’s download the free version (no ads will appear on your video feed, don’t worry).
You also need to download the DroidCam client software on your PC – Windows and Linux (there’s no Mac version).
This app supports Wifi or USB connection between your phone and PC. But since we are already using the Wifi for streaming, let’s not overload the Wifi bandwidth by choosing the USB option instead.
Once you’ve successfully connected your phone camera with your PC, here’s how to use the camera with OBS Studio for your live stream. Ensure the DroidCam app is running on your phone and connected to the DroidCam client on your PC via the USB connection. Your PC should look like the below.
On OBS Studio, click on the plus (+) button below the Sources section and select the Video Capture Device option as depicted below.
Next, give a name to the device. You may use the default name which is Video Capture Device (may be followed by a number). Then, click OK. See below.
Now, you should see a pop-up window showing the properties of your newly create video capture device. Under the Device dropdown menu, select DroidCam Source (there might be a number at the end). Leave the rest of the settings to be default and click OK.
You should see a screen like below where there’s a new window on OBS Studio displaying the video feed from your phone camera. This video signal is from DroidCam.
You’ll notice that the screen aspect ratio is not 16:9 but instead it is 4:3. And this free version of DroidCam only supports 640X480 video resolution. If you want to have 16:9 aspect ratio and HD with 720 pixels for the height resolution (720p), you need to purchase the pro version. Or you can follow this hack below.
Drag the window resizing dot on DroidCam window all the way to the right to expand the window to fill the entire width of the OBS screen. See the screenshot below. Here, we are expanding the video size beyond the screen limit which means the lower portion of the video feed will be cut off. But not to worry because you just have to ensure you capture your video by looking at the OBS window instead of your phone screen to ensure you’re capturing everything inside the viewable window.
Now you can start your live stream. Below is the final result of a live stream shown on YouTube using DroidCam and OBS Studio.
Set up a green screen backdrop
Using OBS Studio, you could add a nice-looking backdrop by following this video tutorial below.