Live Streaming in the Time of #Coronapocalypse

I’ve been doing a lot of research and experimentation on how best to live stream musical performances, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

  1. iPhone or iPad
    The newer the better as the cameras improve with each generation. And be sure to use the rear facing camera. (Sure, you won’t be able to see what’s going out on the screen, but the front facing cameras are vastly inferior.) The latest iPhone 11 has 12MP 4K video with 60 FPS – so it’s great for photos AND video.

  2. External Microphone
    The built-in iPhone mics aren’t good enough for capturing live music at the quality we want. If you’re streaming directly from your phone, I suggest the Shure MV88 (which plugs right into the Lightning Port on the phone). But if you wanna’ get fancy and use OBS Studio (see below), then you’ll need a USB mic like the Shure MV51.

  3. High Speed Internet
    WiFi is fine if you have enough bandwidth, otherwise try going from your computer directly via ethernet to your router. I recently upgraded ot the eero Pro Mesh WiFi system, and have been very happy with improved stability and speed.

  4. OBS Studio
    This is open source (i.e. free) software for managing video recording and live streaming. This allows you to blend varios audio and video sources for a more professional product. I used this to add a video footer, and combine video from iPhone camera with audio intput from my audio interface (which happens to be a Boss VE-8 Acoustic Singer – which has vocal and guitar inputs, plus effects and a looper – but I’m considering upgrading to something like a PreSonus StudioLive mixing board so I have more channels). You’ll also be able to see exactly what picture is getting streamed.

  5. OBS Camera for iOS
    This app allows you to use your iOS camera as a video source for OBS Studio.

My efforts so far have been restricted to Facebook LIVE (because that’s where my audience is right now). I had pretty good experiences so far, although the audio and video are not quite in sync. It’s nice to have the engagement (likes, hearts, wows) and comments built in, but there’s 30+ second delay.

I welcome discussion and collaboration on figuring out the best, least expensive, turn-key solution. And I’ll update this post with any new information I receive.

Stay home, wash your hands, and happy streaming!

Author: Wolf Loescher

Wolf Loescher is a singer / storyteller based in Longmont, Colorado. He sings songs and tells stories from the Old World and the New, accompanying himself on his custom 8-string Irish bouzouki, tenor guitar, and foot percussion.