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Are you ready to learn a new skill? Are you ready for the excitement when you get it all working? Are you ready for the frustration when the tech decides to revolt? Streaming is a huge skillset. You have to be personable, consistent, and you have to learn a ton of tech! You’ve made it to part three of this blog series video 3 in a 6 part series “Live Streaming for musicians.” Today we’ll be breaking down the top free streaming softwares available to content creators.
Hi I’m Reina, Voice and ukulele coach here on Takelessons. Once you’ve had the chance to sort out what platform, or platforms, you’ll be streaming to and you’ve assembled your hardware, it’s time to decide on the software you’ll be using to transmit your stream to a worldwide audience
Unlike streaming on your phone with the push of a couple buttons, streaming to a PC is a bit more complicated. You’ll need a program to route all of your audio and visual feeds. This is where streaming software steps in. Today we’ll be discussing the top 2 industry choices OBS and Streamlabs so that you can make an informed decision about what program will work best for you.
Downloading your software
Both software encoders are free to download and use. Both programs will enable you to deliver your stream in high quality. Well, a quality that is comparable with the internet speed you have and the equipment you’ve assembled. Most importantly, both OBS and Streamlabs are easy to use once you learn a couple of basic steps. Let’s begin by discussing and outlining the major steps you need to execute in order to run and operate the software encoder of your choice.
Start by downloading OBS (https://obsproject.com/) or Streamlabs OBS (https://streamlabs.com/) by clicking the appropriate link provided for you above. Choose the operating system you are using, install, and open the software. It is important to note that although the names are similar, OBS and Streamlabs OBS, also called SLOBS, are two very different companies with two distinct and independent programs. While the functionalities are similar you will find that creators usually have a preference to which one they use. A lot of people may start with one program, learn it, and then switch to the other one. Other creators stay faithful to one software for the length of their streaming career.
Both OBS and Streamlabs OBS have auto configuration wizards. I suggest using these built in tools to help you run a smooth stream. The auto configuration wizard will set most of the things that you need as far as frame rate, bitrate, and recording paths by scanning the equipment you have. You can always go back and adjust settings after the auto configuration.
For instance, regardless of what bitrate the auto-configuration suggests, ensure the bitrate is adjusted to below 3000. The reason for this has to do with viewing pleasure for your audience. You may have incredible equipment that allows you to stream in 60 frames per second, 1080p, at a bitrate of 6000. That’s awesome by the way. But, if your bitrate is too high mobile streamers may receive your feed as choppy. Choppy streams are not fun. You want to find a balance that allows your stream to broadcast smoothly regardless of the platform you are streaming to.
Once you have the basic configurations settled, you’re ready to set up your scenes. Scenes are all the layers that go into making the screen look aesthetically pleasing to you and your viewers. Scenes are made up of sources. Sources are the camera image, text, alerts, incentive bars, chat and/or anything else that you think is important to the success of your stream.
OBS is a great program for building scenes. It doesn’t consume as much CPU as SLOBS, and has a lot of customization options. For your main scene you’ll want the basics: a camera, an audio source and an alerts overlay. Depending on the platform you are streaming to you can link your streaming software directly to your social media account. This will allow you to sync your scenes to the activity that is happening on your steam. For instance if you are streaming to Twitch and someone types something in chat, you can include an overlay for chat in your scene and everytime someone chats it will show up on screen in your scene.
You want to name each of your scenes something. Main, Break, Starting soon, etc… From there you will add sources to each of your scenes. The bottom source will most likely be your camera. If you are using a green screen, your camera will be the second layer in front of a background. Alerts will most likely be the top source in each scene.
If you’ve chosen to stream with SLOBS you will find they offer a ton of fun and easy to use widgets, and overlays that can be natively integrated into your scenes. With OBS you will need to use additional 3rd party software like Triggerfyre or Streamelements to add alerts, etc.. You can also use Streamlabs (the overlays) browser sources with OBS and choose not to use SLOBS streaming software.
If you are streaming to your phone, Streamlabs offers a mobile app that will allow you to add fun overlays and alerts to your streams even without the use of a PC or laptop. Full functionalities will not be available on a phone, and some premium features on Streamlabs do cost extra but, whether you choose Streamlabs OBS or OBS you’ll be able to achieve the stream of your imagination with all the capabilities offered.
In addition to the main streaming software (OBS and Streamlabs OBS) that you’ll utilize for streaming, there are a good number of amazing add-on sites that can help you level up your streams. They include functionalities to help you sync your lights, create custom commands, create fun incentives for your chat, and more. Check out this list below for add-on sites that pair perfectly with your main streaming software.
- Triggerfyre – Allows you to create and manage media alerts that can be controlled by yourself, and your chat.
- Streamelements – Get overlays, create alerts or use alerts provided by Streamelements, custom commands, a custom name chatbot that integrates with OBS, and sponsorship opportunities to help you further monetize your streams.
- Songlistbot – Create and manage a song list that your viewers can use to request songs. The overlay integrates perfectly with both streaming softwares.
- Treatstream – A fun site that allows your chat to purchase food for you and have it delivered to your door, all while protecting your privacy. Alerts show on stream.
- Canva – This is a must! Creating overlays, social media posts, flyers, and so much more. Canva is an intuitive creating tool for every creative, and business person. Get a free trial, using the following affiliate code: https://partner.canva.com/c/3237278/647168/10068
- Discord – This is where you will build your community beyond streaming. Discord is for long, mid-length and long streamers. Think of Discord and your own social media multiverse. You can post announcements, hang out, watch movies, share art, host workshops and more.
Ultimately all of the add-on sites mentioned above are included because they help you grow your stream in both personality and professionalism. As you choose your streaming software and start on the journey of streaming be sure to invest some time into your streaming brand. What makes your stream stand out from the millions of other streams available at any time of the day or night?
The aesthetic of your brand ties in directly to the scenes and sources you will be adding to personalize and set your stream apart from all the others. The streaming software and add-on sites you decide to use will be personal to your needs. Maybe you’d like your lights to turn purple every time you get a donation, or maybe you’d like to recognize VIP’s of your community with fun onscreen incentives every time they show up in chat.
Join me in part 4 of this series “Live Streaming for Musicians” where we’ll be discussing your brand in further depth. Choosing your stream name, your brand colors, etc…
In the meantime have fun exploring all of the incredible streaming tools we covered today. There’s a lot to learn and you shouldn’t expect to learn it all in a day. Or even a week. There are tons of amazing tutorials available online, via Youtube, blogs, and in personal Discord servers.
To help you further set up the streaming software join myself, and your fellow live streamers in Takelessons Live Music Lounge. In this class you will be able to ask questions, clarify issues that you may have, and you’ll be able to connect with others in the live streaming field.
Congrats on making it through the first three parts of this blog series “Live Streaming for Musicians.” In the final part of this series we will explore the many aspects you need to create the visual brand that is your stream. See you there!