New to the live streaming game? All you need to get started is a simple stream setup and some background info. And that’s where we come in.
We’ve got everything you need to know about how to live stream. And although we can’t send you any gear, we’ll let you know what might work best — and how to make what you have looks and sounds better.
How Should I Get Started?
If you want to stream casually, maybe with some friends, go ahead and skip to the next section.
But if you want to be a streamer, you should head in with a plan. Being here and reading up is a great first step! Apart from the practical side of things, you’ll need to conceptualize a bit, too.
- What content will you be streaming, and where will you reach your audience? How do you want to connect with, and hold onto, viewers?
- Do you want to quickly and easily jump right in? Or are you prepared for a steeper learning curve if it means more flexibility?
- Are you picking out/upgrading equipment? (If yes, create a budget and prioritize.)
With these questions in mind, you’ll be able to choose your streaming platform and figure out what extra gear you’ll need to start, if any.
What Platform Should I Stream On?
Compared to the world of streaming for business, regular old social streaming is easy to navigate. You can just go live on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (previously through Periscope). Most of these platforms have professional-level options for brands and media, and there’s LinkedIn Live now, too.
But let’s just take a look at social network streaming at the personal level.
- YouTube live streaming requires a verified account (not checkmark verified), and you have to enable or opt into live video functionality at least 24 hours before your first stream.
- To stream from a mobile device, you need at least 1,000 subscribers. There are no such restrictions from a desktop. Videos under 12 hours are automatically archived to your channel.
- Instagram and Twitter only have live streaming functions from within the app — no desktop support. But you can go live as easily as you would create a post.
- Instagram has a 1-hour stream limit and lets you save completed streams to your device or share them to IGTV. Twitter has an audio-only option, a 6-hour limit, and automatically posts your stream as a tweet, but you can also save it to your device.
- Facebook is similar to YouTube in that it supports mobile and desktop streaming and allows you to schedule a future stream. But like Twitter or Insta, you can start a stream immediately, from the same place you’d make a new post.
- There’s a 4-hour limit on mobile and an 8-hour limit from a desktop. Once a stream is over, it’s automatically saved to the timeline as a video.
What About How to Broadcast on Twitch?
After covering the general options, let’s move on to Twitch, the dedicated live streaming platform for video games and more. Did you know it’s also the most complicated choice if you’re using a computer?
That’s because each of the other social platforms has intuitive native streaming options at every level. You can log in and start streaming.
Twitch has this same ease of use on the mobile apps or if you link up a current-gen Xbox or PlayStation to stream. (Instructions for how to stream on Twitch via PS4 or Xbox One are the same even if they aren’t technically “current.”)
You need external streaming software for Twitch on a PC, such as:
- Open Broadcaster Software (OBS Studio)
- Streamlabs Open Broadcast Software (SLOBS)
- Or paid cloud-based software like Lightstream
- They’re video encoding software that compresses your audio and video data and turns it into something compatible with various websites.
- Fortunately, these types of software will also work with YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
One competitor in this space is Discord with their Go Live feature — using a Windows desktop client and playing applicable PC games. You can launch a stream without extra streaming software. Discord only accommodates small, private groups, but if you just want to stream with a few friends, it’s a good option.
And on the console side of things, note that Twitch isn’t the only option either! From an Xbox, you can stream directly to Facebook (Gaming) using “Mixer.” From a PlayStation, you can stream directly to YouTube.
- So you should try learning how to live stream on Twitch if you want to stream video games in particular (or if you want to join the Twitch community specifically).
- Even though there’s a learning curve, streaming software lets you add customization and use additional sources like a mixing board, external cams and mics, web pages, and playlists.
- Plus, the knowledge carries over, so it’s not like you’d only know how to Twitch stream afterward.
So How Does Streaming Software Work?
Streaming software will function the same regardless of your platform, but the Twitch PC platform only functions through streaming software, as we’ve discussed. When you ask, “How does Twitch work?” you’re actually asking, “How do I get platforms to work with one of these software studios?”
- First, you’ve got to pick one. OBS is a free encoder that works on Windows, macOS, and Linux. While SLOBS is based on OBS, it’s slightly more user-friendly with a few extra features, but only for Windows, Android, and iOS.
- Once you’ve installed it, time to figure out how to set up OBS for Twitch or any other platform. Luckily, they make it easy. Go to settings and view the stream tab, where you can select your streaming service. Then use a stream key to link your private streams to the software.
- How to find your Twitch stream key isn’t hard. Just go to Twitch settings in your account, click Channels and Video, and reveal the protected stream key. (Make sure your account has two-factor authentication enabled for streaming privileges.) This works similarly on YouTube and Facebook.
- Finally, use the audio and video tabs to add all your stream resources like computer audio, mic audio, cameras, and the game window. Use OBS to add text or image overlays, filters, and create pre-saved “scenes” that you can toggle on and off, such as a “stream starting soon” screen, away from keyboard placeholder, or game-specific layout.
Getting the Best Connection, Sound, and Visuals
You probably can’t upgrade your computer or internet service at the drop of a hat, but make sure they’re capable of handling live streams.
- Your computer should ideally have an Intel Core i5/AMD Ryzen 5 processor or better, 8GB of RAM, and a powerful, dedicated graphics card.
- To discern whether your internet is enough to support streaming, check out this in-depth explanation from Restream.io.
Then, to stream with the best of them, you need any of the following:
- Camera and microphone
- Webcam and headset
- Whatever variation of these items you need to make it work
You don’t have to jump in all at once. Browse the internet for some entry-level bargains or simply start with what you have and build on that later.
- In the miscellaneous category, don’t forget to take a look at mini tripods, LED ring lights for 1-step lighting, and things like green screens to help clean up the look of video game streams.
You want it brightly lit, but you do not want glare bouncing off of your face, turning you into an approximation of the sun.
- Control the light and shadow as much as possible, even — or especially? — when outdoors.
- Angle your light sources and cameras appropriately.
You want it quiet and without echo — smaller spaces are better, and soft surfaces absorb sound. You can try:
- Soundproofing foam
- Thick curtains at the windows
- Area rugs or a carpeted room
- Blankets you’ve draped around
This isn’t always possible, so try to counteract poor acoustics or background noise with higher quality microphones, plus pop shields and wind muffs.
Finally, aim for a space that’s either:
- Clean and presentable but otherwise normal
- Purposefully arranged to look good/put together on camera
- Leave your space off-camera as much as possible, such as through green screens or selective camera angles.
Always test your stream before going live.
- Preview the look, see if you’re in focus, do a mic check, make sure your machine doesn’t start lagging once everything’s running.
Practice and prepare.
- Depending on what kind of streaming you do, you should have talking points to hit on and plans for a couple of what-if scenarios.
- You should know your content and understand what kind of vibes you want to put out.
Even if you don’t attract (many) viewers at first, act like they’re there.
- It will help you settle into a groove, explore what you like and what works, and become more natural while you are live.
- And if anyone pops in unexpectedly, they’ll find you streaming in full swing.
Engage with sincere viewers!
- Find a way to interact that feels right for you and your stream.
- Treat the people joining you with kindness and respect, but don’t stand for anything less than the same.
By now, you should have almost everything you need to get into online streaming.
You know how to get your Twitch stream key, add it into streaming software, and then how to start a stream on Twitch. You know which platforms are available if you don’t care about Twitch. And you know what hardware, props, and practices can help take your stream to the next level.Twitcha sudden muscle spasm; especially one caused by a nervous conditionMore (Definitions, Synonyms, Translation)