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YouTube is a platform that I’m sure we’re all familiar with for streaming content. You may even have your own music up on your channel. But of course you also have the option of live-streaming your content, so you can have an instant connection to your fans, wherever they may be, cozy at home. Here we break down what you’ll need to get started live-streaming on YouTube.
Gear you'll need: camera and microphone.
This can be your built-in laptop webcam and microphone, or those of a higher quality can be connected to your computer via an audio interface or USB connection. Remember, you can adjust the quality of your stream in your streaming software as well as in YouTube Studio, however the hardware that you use will be the limiting factor of how far you can push the quality of your streams.
Software you'll need: OBS Studio or Streamlabs OBS.
These two have been the dominant contenders for the most popular streaming software. Streamlabs OBS was released after OBS Studio and includes more bells and whistles that OBS Studios does not. The added functionality can help creators with streamer notifications for donations, subscriptions and more. There are other streaming softwares available, and all are free. Try them out and see what works best for your set-up! If you are having trouble with one, switching to another may be the easiest solution.
How to Set Up a Live Stream
Note: There may be regulations and requirements implemented for streaming in the future (subscriber counts, watched hours, etc). Currently you only need a ‘verified’ account (verified 24 hours after using an SMS-sent code). Be sure to check your account to see if you can livestream first!
Steps to going live:
Inside YouTube Studio:
- Click “Go live”
- Stream – 2 options: live now, or schedule an event
- Once you have “created” the stream, copy the given stream key into your software (OBS, SLOBS, etc.)
- This links your streaming software to YouTube
Inside Your Streaming Software:
- Adjust your stream settings — video bitrate: ~3500 kpbs is good for a low-latency stream
- As musicians, it may be possible to get away with a lower bitrate since the focus is primarily on a high audio quality stream. It is not recommended to set the bitrate under 2500 kbps. However, do not exceed your upload speed. ~75% of max speed is a good rule of thumb. (You can check your internet connection speed by googling a connection speed test).
- Resolution options: 720p30 or 1080p30, depending on internet speed. A higher frame rate is not necessary if you are not streaming fast-paced visual action (ie: watching hockey on television).
- How high you can set your video bitrate and resolution is internet upload speed dependent.
- Keep an eye on your CPU usage. Streaming can be very hardware intensive.
- Audio bitrate: This is an area of contention. Some people do not think that the difference between 256 kbps and 320 kbps is noticeable. Others swear that they do hear a difference in quality. It is somewhat dependent on what you are listening with – high quality headphones vs. a laptop or phone’s built-in speakers. Stay away from 128 kbps – it sounds noticeably worse in comparison.
- Hit go live in your streaming software to preview your stream
- Hit go live in Youtube Studio to actually begin your livestream
Creating a scene(s) in OBS simplified:
- Drag your content into your canvas for a backdrop. This can be an image, display capture, cameras
- Then add an audio input capture source into OBS. Look for your audio device here. This could be your USB connected microphone, or your built-in microphone. Then, use the sliders in OBS to mix audio source levels. You can mute different inputs separately as well.
Tips You Should Know
- Use a hardwired internet connection.
- You can record concurrently as you livestream.
- If possible, select a server that is as geographically close to you as possible.
- Once you have adjusted the settings for the stream, save it as a profile for future streams.
- Once you have created the desired scenes, save it as a scene collection for future streams.
- It is a good idea to attempt to set up a private livestream before you go live for the first time in order to troubleshoot any issues that may arise. Set up a test stream and send a couple friends the link so they can provide you with feedback!
- Test your internet upload speed before adjusting your streaming settings to determine the maximum quality that you could output, then adjust the quality downwards accordingly to ensure a smooth streaming experience for your viewers.
- Maxing your streaming output may not always be the best option. Your viewers must be able to match their download speeds with the bitrate that you are streaming at. For instance, if you are comfortably streaming at 8000 kbps, the quality may be great, however viewers who cannot handle that higher of a bitrate with their internet download speeds will not have a smooth viewing experience.
- YouTube’s official live-streaming help centre
- OBS Studio official website with free download
- Streamlabs OBS official website with free download
- OBS Studios beginner tutorial video
Written by Brian