Where are you live streaming? Part 1

YouTube Live Events

A friend of mine for years has shot video of bands and solo artists performing. Lately, he’s noticed something: no one is using the videos he shoots. It used to be that friends shared these on Facebook but even that isn’t happening anymore. I have a theory why.

A few years ago, I saw a lot more live videos of my friends on social media. But the ubiquity of better editing software and the popularity of well-made YouTube videos makes a cellphone video of your band performing in a poorly-lit nightclub passé.

In the words of Bruce McCullough, “Don’t let that scare you. Let that free you.”

It can be easy — as an indie musician who doesn’t have a lot of resources (like time to edit videos) — to dismiss all video out-of-hand. Don’t do that. Find a strategy to use video in your own way. Lean into live streaming.

In this article, we’ll walk through getting started with YouTube Live Streaming. In the next article, we’ll cover Facebook Live, Instagram, and Periscope and discuss strategy.

YouTube Live Streaming

Of course, what streaming service you use has to be related to what you’re streaming. YouTube is great for longer content. It is great for content that can be staged somewhat. Depending on how you’re using it, it might lack some immediacy.

Some negatives

  1. Let’s get it out of the way: Mobile. YouTube Live Streaming does work with the YouTube app on Android and iOS. But…you have to have 1000 subscribers to do it. That’s a pretty steep number.
  2. Social. YouTube doesn’t have the social cachet of Facebook, Instagram, or Periscope. Unless you have a really involved YouTube subscriber base, you’re going to have to announce your YouTube events on all your other social media to get eyeballs on it. YouTube is undoubtedly a better video platform but it just isn’t as immediate.

That said, it is in some ways easier to promote YouTube events because you can schedule the event in advance and YouTube will give you a URL to share which will only go live when you start broadcasting.

The positives

Because of the limitations of YouTube Live Streaming on mobile, you might as well use a laptop to stream on YouTube. With a laptop, you’re going to have more computing power. So you might as well take advantage of that. With a decent USB webcam (because face it: your built-in webcam sucks), you can stage an event in your home, your practice space, a small venue and make it a much more interactive event than you could with the purely social streaming services.

YouTube Live Streaming gives you control over an event being public, private, or unlisted. It enables live commentary from your online audience. It gives you a lot of controls. You can even do live chat events.

In short, YouTube is great when you really want to make your video an event, rather than just making a video of an event.

How To

Prep: You should have a channel on YouTube for your music or band. If you don’t, make one.

  1. Login to YouTube and go to “My Channel”

2. On your channel, go to Video Manager. (It’s a button across the top, in the middle.)

3. Once in the Video Manager, you’ll see all the Creator Studio menu options.

4. Click the arrow next to Live Streaming and you’ll see you have two options Stream Now and Events.

It’s totally fine to set an Event. You can start those immediately if you want or schedule them if you want to promote them beforehand.

5. Here is the catch, you have to enable Live Streaming for your channel before you ever schedule an event. You’ll see this option, the first time you select a Live Streaming option:

Then you’ll Enable Live Streaming:

6. Then you’re ready to stream anytime!

7. When you start an Event, you title it, tag it, describe it, schedule it.

You choose where it’s Public, Private (available only to invitees), or Unlisted (visible only to you).

8. Then you Go Live or Schedule the event.

Two things to remember

Practice makes better things

As with everything, you might want to practice a few times with Unlisted events before you go all out and schedule something. YouTube gives you a lot of options to create great video events. You don’t have to worry about editing if you get the staging down.

Lean into the “live”

They are live events after all. Get your staging right. Promote your events well. But once you start broadcasting, don’t worry so much about musical flubs. Those are part of what makes the event fun. That is what separates these events from those polished, well-edited videos.

In the next article we’ll discuss other streaming options and more strategy. If you want to think a little bit more about your digital strategy, start with some of the articles in the guide to building your musical web presence. Here is a summary of those articles:


Todd A writes about making music, makes podcasts about making music, and makes music. Read his weekly column in the SongCast Indie Artist Insider.

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