Live streaming allows artists to connect with their fans across the world without the need to be physically in the same room. The recent coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of artists exploring live streaming in order to perform to their fans in the absence of in-person live shows.
For some artists and teams however, technical and logistical challenges or anxieties around performing live can mean performing a true live show online isn’t a viable option. Luckily thanks to the fantastic piece of open source software OBS Studio, it’s possible to pre-record a live stream and transmit it ‘as live’ to your fans.
What You’ll Need
- A computer running Windows, macOS or Linux.
- OBS (Open Broadcaster Software). This is available to download at obsproject.com
- A YouTube account with live streaming enabled. Find out how to set this up here.
Setting Up YouTube
- To get started you’ll first of all need to visit the YouTube Live Control Room.
- On the first screen that appears select the ‘Later date’ option.
- Then on the second screen select the ‘Streaming software’ option.
- Click the blue ‘schedule stream’ button in the top right of the page.
- Follow the instructions on-screen to set up your new stream.
Note: Selecting private will allow you to create a test live stream ahead of your final broadcast. Selecting unlisted will allow you to obtain the link for your live stream ahead of the upcoming stream being visible on YouTube. This is particularly useful to have for your marketing efforts.
- Once your stream has been created click on the name of your stream in the ‘Manage’ section. We’ll now switch focus to OBS and come back to this screen once we’re ready.
Setting Up OBS
- Launch OBS on your computer.
- Go to ‘Profile’ > ‘New’ to create a new profile.
- Go to ‘Scene Collection’ > ‘New’ to create a new scene collection.
- From the ‘Control Panel’ in the bottom right of OBS select ‘Settings’.
- Switch to the ‘Video’ tab and select your canvas and output resolutions.
Note: These will most likely need to be 1920×1080, however you can adjust these to fit your needs.
- Switch to the ‘Stream’ tab. Set the service to ‘YouTube / YouTube Gaming’ and the server to YouTube’s ‘Primary Ingest Server’.
- Return to YouTube and select ‘Copy’ next to your ‘Stream Key’.
- Paste this into the ‘Stream Key’ textbox in OBS.
- ‘Apply’ then ‘OK’.
- You can verify your connection by clicking ‘Start Streaming’ in OBS. After a short delay your stream should be picked up in your YouTube window. Stop streaming once verified.
Setting Up Your Production For Streaming
Now that you have your stream set up, you will need to add your video sources to OBS.
- Use the ‘+’ button at the bottom of the ‘Scenes’ box to create a new scene.
- Give this a name, perhaps ‘VT’ or the name of your video.
- Make sure the your VT scene is selected then click on the ‘+’ button at the bottom of the ‘Sources’ box.
- Select ‘Media Source’ then ‘Browse’ to add your video file and hit ‘OK’.
Note: It’s a good idea to have a holding slate with both audio and video that you insert before and after the VT playback. This will allow you to test that both audio and video are being output to the live stream correctly before beginning the playback of your VT. You can add a holding slate as a second video by repeating the instructions above.
Once your streaming settings are right and your scenes and sources are all set up it’s time to go live!
Note: It’s always a good idea to test your setup via a private stream before your live broadcast.
- Make sure your holding slate is selected in the scenes box then click ‘Start Streaming’.
- Switch over to YouTube to make sure your stream is being picked up and verify the health of your data connection.
Note: There will be a short delay between your OBS output and YouTube Studio; this is completely normal.
- When you’re happy, click on the ‘Go Live’ button to start your live stream.
- Check that the audio and video from your holding slate are being live streamed correctly.
Note: It’s useful to have another computer or mobile device handy to monitor your stream from the public YouTube watch page.
- Once you’re happy with everything, select your VT scene in OBS to playback your video.
- When your VT ends switch back to your holding slate scene in OBS.
- Return to YouTube and end your live stream in YouTube before ending your live stream in OBS.
After your stream you’ll be able to decide whether or not your stream remains playable on-demand on your YouTube channel. OBS is an incredibly advance piece of software, and whilst this guide serves as as a basic starting point, it’s well worth putting some time into exploring some of the more advanced tools the software has to offer.