Guide to livestreaming

A livestream performance is one that is broadcast live over the internet, offering a digital route to audiences as an alternative to in-person performances.

Livestreaming platforms

There are several third-party platforms available that allow you to livestream performances: YouTube, Facebook Live and Crowdcast are just some of the platforms we have come across.

The best platform to use is the one you think your audience are most likely to engage with, but we recommend YouTube if this is your first foray into the world of digital performances because:

  • it’s a well-known and trusted platform
  • it is simple to use
  • content can be easily shared on your own site and social media
  • it has a blanket licensing agreement that will cover copyright permissions for your livestream
  • it also offers the option to allow people to comment during the live performance. 

More details on setting up a livestream performance on YouTube are below.

Livestreaming and Zoom: some groups are doing livestreamed performances on Zoom. This has one major advantage over YouTube in that it allows for some interaction. You can unmute the audience to allow them to clap and put people in breakout rooms during an interval to chat.

It should be noted that Zoom does not have a licence to cover copyright permissions like YouTube and Facebook do. As such (assuming the music being performed is in copyright) you need to make sure you have the right licence in place. This will either be a Small Online Live Concert Licence (for ticketed events) or a Limited Online Music Licence (for non-ticketed events). Find out more about both types of licence in copyright permissions and licensing resource.

Equipment for streaming

To live stream, you need a device that can access the internet to stream from. This could be a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone, but be aware that both YouTube and Facebook require you to have 1,000 subscribers before you can live stream from a mobile.

You will also need a decent camera and microphone - your device may have these built in already. However, built in facilities, especially microphones, are not always the best quality for music, so an external microphone connected to your device is a good idea. For a good overview of the things to consider and some low budget options, read this microphones review.

Can we sell tickets for a livestream event?

You can in theory, but not through your livestreaming platform. You would probably have to sell tickets through a separate online ticketing platform and then restrict who can access the live stream, which does present some further difficulties (see below). But it is possible and the ISM have a useful resource on this. 

Making it free is a good way to keep connected with your members and audiences and a great promotional opportunity too.

Often livestream platforms offer a way to suggest your viewers make a donation. This could go directly to your group or you could promote another cause for people to give to (e.g. a charity you already support or one of the current hardship funds for musicians).

Can we restrict who can see the livestream?

There are ways of doing this for most platforms, but it means people viewing the live stream will require an account to gain access, which does put a barriers in their way. As above, we think the better approach is to make it free to all and ask for donations (and enjoy the free publicity!).

Could we make a recording available and not do it as a livestream?

You can pre-record a performance and schedule a release time. The livestream element will create a sense of occasion and an ‘appointment to view’ which may help with engagement. But YouTube does have Premiere function which allows you to upload a recording and then set it to be broadcast at a certain time as a premiere.

Setting up a livestream performance on YouTube

If you’re new to livestreaming, we recommend that you use YouTube. They have a very useful help guide, and you will not need to worry about obtaining copyright permissions, as YouTube have a blanket licensing agreement that will cover copyright permissions for your live stream event.

Setting up your account

Before you can livestream on YouTube, you will need to create a channel with them, and to do that you need to have a Google account. If you already use Gmail – whether for personal or group emails – then you already have a Google account.
The simplest way to create a channel is:

  • log into your Google account
  • go to YouTube
  • click on the icon for your account in the top right of your screen
  • select 'create a channel'
  • click 'get started'
  • YouTube will give you the option during the set up process to ‘use a custom name’ – this is where you can add the name of your group if you are logged in on a personal account, which will create a channel that is separate to your personal account
  • You can also add a short biography and links to your website and social media accounts.
  • Once you have created your channel, you can continue to customise it with your group’s information and branding, upload videos, or start a livestream. Your audience have the option to subscribe to your channel – this means that they can choose to be notified when you post something new, and that they will be able to access your channel quicker from the YouTube home page. Note that to start with, livestreams can only be initiated using a laptop or tablet – you cannot livestream from a mobile until you have at least 1000 subscribers.

Giving someone else access to your channel

It might be that the live stream you broadcast will be performed by someone else. In this case you will have to give them access to your channel to enable them to livestream, the best method is to add them as a manager. To do this:

  • Check that you are logged in to your group’s channel and not to your individual account (look at the top right of your screen to see which profile image is displayed)
  • Go to the YouTube home page (from the menu on the left-hand side)
  • From the menu on the left-hand side, choose settings (you may need to scroll down to see this)
  • Choose ‘add or remove manager(s)’ then ‘manage permissions’
  • Click on the add new users icon – two people with a + sign at the top right corner of the box that appears
  • You can add as many people as you want to by entering their email addresses and assigning them a role
  • You can get back to the YouTube homepage any time by clicking the icon with 9 dots arranged in a square (top right of your screen) and then selected YouTube

Starting the live stream 

When you (or whoever is giving the performance) is are ready to start livestreaming, login into your YouTube channel, click on the upload video icon and,  then select ‘go live,’ enter your details and start the stream.. 

Google have also produced a guide to setting up a livestream performance on YouTube.

Planning and promoting your livestream event

When planning the date and time of your livestream event, you’ll not only need to consider the availability of your performers but also your audience.

  • Are there any popular TV programmes you should avoid clashing with?
  • Are there other livestreams taking place that your audience might want to watch that you should avoid clashing with?

You can promote your livestream concert in the usual way – through your mailing lists and social media platforms. Don’t forget to ask your performers for a photo and biography to help you promote the event. Make sure you give your audience the key information they need:

  • Date and time of the livestream event
  • How to watch the livestream event
  • Details of the artist and the music they’ll be playing

You could make it an occasion by encouraging your audience to dress up, pour themselves a drink and then take a photo of them enjoying the performance, which they can send to you afterwards or tag you in a post on social media.

If it isn’t your group performing, ask your performers to promote the event to their networks too – make sure you provide them with the right information and branding for your group.

Don’t forget to tell Making Music – we will promote as many performances as we can on our social media platforms. 

Consider creating an e-programme for the event and email it to your audience mailing lists as a PDF. Word has some good templates you can use – go to ‘file’ then ‘new’ to search them.

During the performance

Content on social media, including YouTube, is free for anyone to view, but you can encourage people to make donations to your group in lieu of ticket prices. In your event description on YouTube and in your pre-event publicity, you can request that your audiences donate via a site such as Virgin Money Giving, GoFundMe or JustGiving.  You can recommend a ‘ticket price’ for people to pay, or ask them to donate whatever amount they wish. See our resource on donation platforms for more.

YouTube (as with most platforms) also allow audiences to comment whilst a livestream is broadcasting. Make sure someone from your group is logged on to your group’s channel during the performance, so that they can respond to any comments if necessary.

After the performance

If you are using YouTube, they will save a recording of the livestream to your channel so that people can watch it again. This video will be covered by YouTube's blanket licence in terms of copyright – but don’t forget to ask the performers permission to make the recording available.  You can also embed the video from YouTube on your own website and it will still be covered by their blanket licence. It is also easy to share YouTube content on your social media channels.

Don’t forget to thank the artist, both in person and publicly on your website and social media platforms.

And finally, don’t forget to tell your audiences how successful the event was, and let them know when the next one will be!

Further reading

The ISM has some useful resources:

We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.