If you’ve been on social media at all over the past month, you’ve certainly seen a plethora of DJs performing live sets with varying degrees of quality, length, and entertainment value.
Chances are you’ve probably clicked on a few and stayed there for just a few seconds. Others may have really held your attention. Why?
Entertainment standards are pretty high these days. Not only do audio and video quality need to be top-notch, but there needs to be some sort of entertainment value beyond watching someone push play and crossfade between popular songs — in fact, doing that could really cause some problems.
So you wanna do your own live set? Great! Crank up those speakers, invite all your friends to a ZOOM link, set up your phone to simultaneously go live on Facebook and Instagram, and you’re gonna be an online sensation in no time, right?
Not so fast!
Here are the 5 biggest hurdles DJs have encountered while live streaming:
- Audio quality that is somewhere between awful and completely inaudible
- Poor video quality in terms of both image quality and smooth frame rates
- Copyright issues on Facebook and Instagram Live that cause videos to be muted or completely shut down/removed
- Boring visuals that leave guests unamused and logging off quickly
- A lack of interaction between the DJ & the guests, as well as among the guests
I personally struggled with all of these things myself, and I knew there had to be a better way, so I got to work, and debuted my new “Club DQ” concept recently, to fantastic viewership and retention, as well as lots of anticipation for my next stream, which will be coming up this Saturday night:
So if you want to know what it takes to put on a high-quality live stream, let’s dive in!
There’s no secret that Facebook and Instagram algorithms are constantly combing through your bitstream to find anything that matches copyrighted content. While the masses of your fans (I know, you have sooooooo many) primarily use these platforms, they’re likely to grow frustrated when your stream gets axed, and are less likely to jump back on when you do.
Bootlegs, remixes, scratching, mic banter, name drops, quick mixing, and pitch bending have all been known to confuse the algorithm and prolong air time, but that’s a lot to be thinking about and still isn’t 100% foolproof.
I’d highly recommend that every DJ get an account on Twitch.TV and get familiar with Streamlabs OBS (which is free)! It’s a fantastic video streaming platform and social network designed for gaming, but one that adapts extremely well to DJ sets, and isn’t likely to give your stream the boot. At time of writing, I don’t know a single DJ that has had a stream interrupted for copyright.
I’d highly recommend that every DJ get an account on Twitch.TV and get familiar with Streamlabs OBS (which is free)!
You’re going to need to feed an audio signal directly into your broadcast device. I’d personally recommend a low latency audio interface such as the Focusrite Clarett series which uses a Thunderbolt connection, but USB devices can work very well too. Just be sure to play around with your buffer size to assure you’re getting the best results. If you’re streaming from an iOS device, you may want to check out the iRig Pro to assure you’re getting a quality mixer output signal directly into your feed.
I actually studied optics in college and I had a professor who always told us there were three rules to getting a good image: Lighting, lighting, and lighting. And I can’t preach this enough. You need to intentionally create a scene in which you are well illuminated and clear. Poor lighting may result in a grainy image, casting you as a backlit silhouette (which can actually be cool if done occasionally and by design), or just a really boring visual of you blending into your background.
There are three rules to getting a good image: Lighting, lighting, and lighting.
High-quality cameras are a major plus, but not totally necessary. I was able to run a really nice feed using a MacBook Pro Facetime camera (not my DJ computer, but a 2nd laptop), as well as an inexpensive Logitech USB webcam for a cool picture-in-picture effect.
Super high-resolution images mean more of a processing workload for your CPU, and more data to move through the stream, so bigger isn’t always necessarily better.
Set Up Your Visuals:
I know you’re really ridiculously good looking and your moves on the decks are totally sick, but you still probably want to give your viewers a nice scene to watch. Here are a few ideas:
Set up some intelligent lighting scenes to run and change dynamically throughout your set. While setting your lights in sound-active mode can be kinda cool, there’s never been more time to really learn proper DMX programming and create some cool scenes in a program like ShowXpress.
Use multiple cameras. Set up a 2nd camera that is a closeup of your mixer. Maybe set one up overhead, or one looking over your shoulder. Create scenes or picture-in-picture windows using Streamlabs OBS, or live multi-camera software such as eCamm Live to give your viewers a better glimpse into what’s going on.
There’s never been a better time to learn proper DMX programming and create some cool scenes in a program like ShowXpress.
Make it Interactive:
As any concert-goer can attest to, it’s a great feeling to be a part of the show. In streaming DJ sets, a little love can go a long way, and can really enhance the true multimedia experience of your performance. A few ideas that can be implemented with Streamlabs OBS:
- Embed a chat window in your video feed that shares the comments from your viewers. This can be very fun- and funny too!
- Embed a social follow window in your video feed so that others can see when viewers follow you- and it encourages them to do the same
- Keep another device nearby to chime in on the chat. Users love hearing directly from the performer! So whether you type comments back to users, or get on the mic to acknowledge them, be sure to acknowledge your viewers- because without them, you may as well not be streaming!
Here’s my live set from last Saturday night: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/602818947
And a video tutorial on how to navigate OBS:
The owner of DQB Entertainment in Dallas, Dan Quinn once pranked the kids in his DJ School by informing them that Marshmello and Imagine Dragons had been removed from the library.
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