Resources and tutorials

How to live stream - a guide for beginners

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If you’re just starting out, you might not be sure which setup is most suitable for your creative needs in terms of equipment. There are various options to consider, whether you’re familiar with the software and hardware, or not at all.

Although live streaming is now second nature to so many creators around the world, going live for the first time can still be a daunting prospect. Learning everything from using OBS to designing the graphic overlays for your show can be overwhelming for newbie streamers. But the good news is we’re here to simplify the process for you.

To help you go live, we’ve put together a list of the most popular setups and considerations. These are based on common gear recommendations that we’ve seen used on Mixcloud.

1. Find the right equipment

Basic setup

First things first, you’ll need a laptop and a stable internet connection to start live streaming.

If you’re a beginner and planning to use Mixcloud Live studio, this is all you’ll need.

But if you want to upgrade your stream, there’s more hardware to consider. We recommend this extra gear for optimising your live streaming experience and audio quality:

  • An audio interface or soundcard (routed to your music-playing device like a CDJ controller or instrument)
  • Camera (in-built webcam or external)  
  • Headphones
  • Speakers (a.k.a Monitors)
  • Microphone
  • Mixer

    If you’re playing music, an audio interface will help ensure that you’re streaming higher-quality audio. Also known as a soundcard, this device mediates between your monitors, music-playing devices, and your computer. Having a separate device processing your audio (rather than relying on your laptop's in-built sound card) also safeguards your computer from overheating and your stream from glitching.

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A DJ setup

This setup will give you everything you need to start your live streaming DJ set:

  • Laptop/Computer
  • A DJ controller, CDJ and mixer or turntable or mixer
  • Camera (in-built webcam or external)
  • An audio interface
  • Headphones
  • Monitors (left and right speakers)
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What are the system requirements for OBS?

Mac OS:
✓ Intel CPU (PPC is not supported)
✓ OpenGL 3.3 compatible GPU
✓ macOS High Sierra (10.13) or later
Windows:
✓ DirectX 10.1 compatible GPU
✓ Windows 8 / 8.1 / 10
Linux/Unix:
✓ OpenGL 3.3 compatible GPU
✓ X window system

While you may have a compatible system, this does not guarantee that it will support your OBS stream or recording. The central processing unit (CPU) requirements vary considerably depending on the settings of your device, resolution, frame rate (FPS), and scene complexity. You can try the Tools > Auto-Configuration Wizard in OBS itself to find appropriate settings for your specs.What may help with performance issues is running OBS from a separate computer. That’s not to say you can’t use it on your DJ or production PC, but you may encounter issues if your device struggles to keep up.

🔧  For the installation setup, a good rule of thumb is:

If you’re not sure what the tool is, leave it as is. Setting up OBS can be as easy or as complex as you want it to be. However, keeping unfamiliar settings at default mode is perfectly fine for most users.

If it’s your first time, you can go live directly from your browser using Mixcloud Live studio. This will save you time so you don’t need to download third party software like OBS.

A radio show setup

If you’re thinking of starting a talk show, this is the setup for you:

  • Camera (in-built webcam or external)  
  • An audio interface
  • Microphone
  • Headphones
  • A mixer

If you’re opting for a condenser mic, we recommend that you use an interface which will help connect the microphone to your desktop. Try Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. If you don’t have a soundcard you can opt for a more affordable USB microphone like Blue Yeti.

What’s more, streaming with Mixcloud means that your audio quality will always be retained with our high fidelity streaming, perfect for you to turn those shows into a top quality podcast series.

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An audio-visual setup

Take your visuals to the next level and incorporate a green screen. This setup works well for DJs too, including Basement Tapes who live-stream audio-visual experiences:

  • DSLR Camera
  • Green Screen  
  • Video Capture Card

The green screen will provide a nice canvas for you to add all your graphics, illustrations, photos or video montages in the background. Just add them in a third party software like OBS like you would your graphic overlays. The video capture card functions similarly to a soundcard, essentially allowing your computer to recognize your external camera.

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Supplies some astounding images and videos from space and other planets to help transport your listeners into the otherworldly soundscape you’ve created.
2. Unsplash
Features plenty of freely-sourced images across nature, architecture, fashion, film and popular culture.
3. Pexels
A creator-driven database of stock images and videos, royalty-free. You can search for anything you choose, and the results are arranged in a mood-board like selection.
4. Pixabay
Has over 2.5 million stock photographs freely available, along with videos and music (as well as sound effects), graphics and illustrations.
5. Beeple
Provides numerous VJ loops, which are there to help you combine your audio with some
dazzling visuals to hypnotise your audience.
6. Visual Don
Helps to create customised and highly cinematic visuals that could take inspiration from video games like Grand Theft Auto or seminal space flicks like 2001: A Space Odyssey.
7. Resolume
Offers a number of audio-visual interface softwares. With its Avenue add-on, you can combine audio and video effects to intensify
your live OBS stream. You are also able to
convert videos from different formats, and preview them before you beam them onto the dancefloor.
8. Musicvid
Helps you create your own visualiser from any image or video of your choice, free of charge. In a nutshell, it allows you to build your own music video to perfectly accompany whichever track you want to mix.
9. Serato
One of the most popular DJ applications. By using it as your mixing platform, you can use the digital deck interface as a video source, which lets you show viewers exactly what you’re up to when you’re working your magic.
10. PNG Tree
This free database of PNG images, which are perfect for texts and screenshots, allows you to choose from millions of designs, whether that’s established logos or something you want for part of your brand image.

A full professional setup

This one favours more advanced live streamers that are looking to level up their streaming experience as a whole. Along with the gear mentioned above, add these elements:

  • Camera Switcher
  • Lighting (e.g sound reactive LED or ring light)

Firstly, multiply your cameras. We’ve seen Mixcloud streamers use up to four cameras each at different angles, highlighting a different aspect of their space. For instance, DJs can have one close up shot on your decks, one front-facing shot, and then one above you. Using different cameras also requires a snazzy bit of kit to aid smooth transitions - if you’re looking to purchase indulgences we recommend the Blackmagic ATEM Mini PRO Camera Switcher.

Secondly, lighting. If you’re streaming at an advanced level and can afford professional level lighting. We recommend Elgato products that are specifically made for streamers

Experiment with different kinds of lights to get the ambience how you like it. Invest in a key light to spotlight the most important part of the stream - you! Or purchase some sound reactive LED lights so that your lights are on beat and ready for those drops.

2. Choose your live streaming platform

There are three ways:

The easiest way

Go live directly from a web browser with Mixcloud Live studio. Head on over to the live stream setup page (by clicking LIVE, and then broadcast live) and click go live from your browser to start your stream. This option is best for newbies who aren’t familiar with OBS or Streamlabs. Read our FAQs for a clear step-by-step to get started.

The most popular way

The most common method thus far relies on external software (like OBS, or Streamlabs) functions based on stream keys Mixcloud provides. This option is built on Real-Time Messaging Protocol (commonly shortened to ‘RTMP’)

The mobile way

If you have either of the above-mentioned software on your phone (OBS, or Streamlabs), you can go live from your mobile device as well. But since Live Studio is still in Beta, it’s only available on desktop for now.

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Join the creator community that genuinely cares about music

Mixcloud is one of the only communities that cares about building a fair and equitable future for music. If you care about music, you're already one of us.

TRY MIXCLOUD LIVE FOR FREE
£9.00/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

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Take your visuals to the next level and incorporate a green screen. This setup works well for DJs too, including Basement Tapes who live-stream audio-visual experiences:

  • DSLR Camera
  • Green Screen  
  • Video Capture Card

The green screen will provide a nice canvas for you to add all your graphics, illustrations, photos or video montages in the background. Just add them in a third party software like OBS like you would your graphic overlays. The video capture card functions similarly to a soundcard, essentially allowing your computer to recognize your external camera.

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Live streaming tips

How to make your debut one to remember

👋  Post a welcome message in the chat. You may not be able to read through the chat continually but it's best to post a message welcoming your followers and maybe giving an introduction for those who stumble across your stream.

🎙️  Pick up the mic. If you've never spoken during a show before, now is the time. Whether it's saying hi to a follower, giving detail about what you're playing or just having a chat, your viewers will appreciate it.

📝  Plan what you're going to do before you go live and how long you'll be live for. This will help with publicising the stream and to manage the expectations of your followers.

How do I avoid copyright issues on live streams?

Mixcloud is different. It is purpose-built for music, uses fingerprinting technology to identify tracks, and pays royalties accordingly on your behalf. When you stream on Mixcloud, you can use any music you like and the artists played get paid.

What is the easiest way to live stream?

We launched “Mixcloud Live Studio” for this reason: to make live streaming more accessible for beginner creators who are unfamiliar with the process. With Mixcloud Live studio, you can stream with one click, with all the settings ready to go, directly from your web browser.

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