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  • Writer's pictureJoel

Live streaming - where do I start?

Updated: May 18, 2020

So you're going to go live. You're well practised, (hopefully) you've got new strings (maybe) and you're ready to share your music across the internet to everyone across the world, in the comfort of their respective lounge rooms.

Surely it's that simple, right?

Of course not. There's a bunch of things that can (and often do) go wrong during live sets, and even if nothing catastrophic happens, There's a lot of small things you can do to make your live stream that little bit nicer.

This post isn't here to tell you how terrible you are, but hopefully, some ideas in here will give you the inspiration you need to take the next step to make your live stream the best it can be. Here's some things to look at. I'll start at the easy things and we'll go from there.

Landscape vs Portrait?

Probably landscape.

Depending on which platform you'll be streaming, this might change, but if you're unsure, landscape. Instagram live favours portrait due to the way comments show up on screen, but that's about it. If you're reading this, then it's likely your audience appreciates you taking the extra steps to make your video show up on their device of choice. If they want to see your set, they'll turn their phone. Just make sure your phone knows it's in landscape mode, or you'll be sideways.


Pick a room that's not full of all your shit. nobody wants to see your washing. Also, pick a room that's not empty. A lounge, a bed, curtains all absorb reverberations in your room, and at the end of the day, make your stream sound better. Your kitchen tiles will reflect higher frequencies, and can make your stream sound bad. It's a fact that your bedroom probably sounds better than your kitchen. Just remember to make you bed.


There's a million different things you can try here. I won't bore you with the details in this post, because sometimes a coffee cup and a bunch of blu-tac will do the trick if you're on a budget or cbf, but here's what I use to hold my phone on a tripod.


Most people are live streaming from their camera phones because they're convenient. And most camera phones are perfectly capable of doing so. But, lighting is still very important. (I actually teach a course on lighting, so bare with me if I go too deep)

In the pro world, we spend hours setting up proper lighting to get the exact look that we want. Let's not go there. Here's a few tips:

1. Avoid backlighting. Unless you're trying to look like a silhouette, you want to put the camera between you and the light source. Just beware of the camera shadow.

2. Use lamps if you have them. Consider pointing them at the wall you're facing, rather than directly at you. The reflected (bounced) light will be softer and cause less weird shadows. If that's too dark, you can use baking paper over the lamp to soften it, as long as it's not going to catch fire. Use common sense.

3. Use more if you need it. Mood lighting is cool, but a dark video full of shadows sucks.

4. Windows. Lots of light comes in through the windows. This can be your friend, just be on the right side of it. Don't be a small dark subject in front of a big bright backlight. Your phone will adjust to the light, making you a shadow, ruining your shot.


Depending on what you're streaming, you might want to go a little deeper into this, and so I'll go a little deeper here. I also teach sound, but make no apologies for going too deep here. Sound is important.

Firstly, turn your phone on silent. And turn off vibrate. Sound will transfer from a phone's vibrate function straight to the microphone, and it'll be loud.

Using your phone microphone to capture sound from a PA system is like trying to catch an egg with a bat. Just. Don't.

Acoustic guitar and vocal - Your phone sound is probably fine in a small room, if you're not too concerned. A Rode VideoMic is the next step up. It'll handle a higher sound pressure level (SPL) and sound a lot better for the price, especially if you plan on doing this a few times. If you want to mic up your vocal and guitars separately, use an iRig and route through that.

Duets - Take a risk on using your phone in a nice room, or borrow some gear, and mic it all up. A mic for each vocal, and you can probably plug guitars directly into the mixing desk if you haven't got DI's. Use and iRig.

Bands - Mic up what you can. rope in a mate with a clue on sound and get them to keep an eye on it all, or pay a pro to bring their gear and look after it for you. For fuck's sake, Don't use your phone's microphone. use an iRig and route the mix through that. Using your phone microphone to capture sound from a PA system is like trying to catch an egg with a cricket bat. Just. Don't.

Foldback. If you need, feel free to use your PA system so you can hear what's going on. After all, you need to know what you're playing. Just set it up right so your audience doesn't hear it feeding back every time you go near the mic.

If you need more help, Contact us. We're here to help.

WiFi vs Mobile.

This can be a tricky one if you're not in IT or over 40, but it's essentially simple. Run a speed test while connected to your wifi, and one using data on your phone. Use the one with the higher upload speed. Standard bit rate for a 720 video is between 2.5 - 4 Mbits per second, so as long as you're over that, you should be sweet...Ask your housemates to use their data if they're connected to WiFi. It's better to have more than you need. If you're interested in more info, google it. It's fucking boring.


Be a pro. Make the most of it. If you suck live, people will think you suck on record, and those people aren't going to buy your shit. After all, that's what we're here for isn't it? Capitalism?


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