LIVESTREAMING TOOL DIRECTORY

The following list of livestreaming tools is organized by format (video, audio, virtual reality), then by revenue model (free, free-to-play and ticketed/paywalled). Where appropriate, I include some bullet points with more background on the company and its goals, and/or links to examples of artists and music companies using the tool in practice.

VIDEO

Pro tip: If you want to broadcast to more than one of the below video platforms simultaneously, I recommend using one of the many simulcasting tools available online. Pro tips below.

Free

If you’re looking to make your livestreaming experience available for free, below are the best options, which are already pretty popular among people in the music industry.

Free-to-play

The platforms below are able to host “free-to-play” livestreams — meaning that the streams are free for anyone to access, but include the ability for viewers to contribute financially to the streamer if they so wish, usually through some kind of in-app “tipping” mechanism and/or direct monthly subscription.

The term “free-to-play” comes from the gaming world, which is important to keep in mind because many of the below platforms originally targeted online gaming communities. Hence “free-to-play concerts” work best when they act like games and have highly interactive, game-like mechanics built in.

Twitch

  • Music examples: JVNAHANAFlux PavilionAeseaesMonstercat
  • Recommended resource: Twitch for Musicians
  • In-stream donation and direct channel subscription capabilities
  • Twitch was already actively trying to get more musicians on their platform prior to the COVID-19 outbreak; that said, Jimmy Whisenhunt, a Music Partnerships Manager at Twitch, has made his Twitter DMs open for any artists affected by event cancellations who are looking to use the platform to engage with fans online

YouNow

Mixer

Caffeine

  • Similar user experience to Twitch and Mixer
  • Struck exclusive deals with music celebrities like DrakeOffset and Doja Cat
  • In-stream donation capabilities for select channels

Periscope

  • Owned by Twitter
  • Allows for in-app tipping
  • Music example: Clare Means

YouTube Live

  • Allows for in-app tipping via “Super Chat,” as well as direct channel memberships and merch integrations

Ticketed/paywalled

The platforms below offer the closest thing to putting on an actual, in-person show, in terms of the capability to charge visitors upfront to access a paywalled livestream.

To my surprise, there’s a relative dearth of livestreaming platforms tailored for musicians looking to stage these ticketed “virtual concert” experiences. One popular option in the past, Concert Window, shut down in August 2019. Two of the options listed below were just launched within the past few months.

Run The World

  • Best for conferences and larger events
  • Features include fireside chats with guests, direct-messaging among attendees and virtual “cocktail parties”
  • Co-founded by Xiaoyin Qu, a former Senior Product Manager at Facebook who oversaw the platform’s music and Rights Manager products

Moment House

  • Best for individual creators rather than multi-guest interviews or panels
  • Limited features — standard livestream and live text chat only, for now
  • Founded by Arjun Mehta

Stageit

Key

  • Music example: Kalie Shorr
  • $2.99 flat rate for all event tickets; platform takes a 25% fee on sales
  • Keybox feature allows fans to bid on individual video responses from artists
  • Invite-only on the talent side, for now

Crowdcast

  • Can host free or paid livestreams, for unlimited or limited audience sizes, depending on your preference
  • If streaming for free, can also simulcast to Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and LinkedIn
  • Example of an archived, ticketed livestream related to music
  • Up to three co-hosts/guests
  • More advanced audience analytics
  • Integrations with several business management tools including Mailchimp, Stripe, Salesforce, Slack, ConvertKit and Zapier

Patreon

  • Creators can livestream to paying members natively via the Patreon mobile app (powered by Crowdcast)
  • Best for ongoing rather than one-off livestreams and memberships

Cadenza.tv

  • Invite-only on the artist/industry side, for now
  • First music event features The White Buffalo on April 5; event landing page includes sections for merch and album preorder/pre-save links

Simulcasting

Below is a list of online tools that allow you to stream to multiple different video platforms simultaneously from one central site, in case you’re looking to optimize for reach. By necessity, your streams through these services will be free of charge (although viewers on platforms like Twitch can still “tip” you as discussed above).

StreamYard

  • Probably the most popular multicasting service in the music industry right now; I personally have taken part in three virtual panels in the past six months alone that were broadcast through StreamYard
  • Great for hosting interviews or panel discussions with remote guests
  • Streams to Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitch and Periscope

Restream

  • Ideal if you want to stream to more platforms beyond the basic ones — they have 34 possible integrations, including but not limited to Mixer, DLive, VK Live, kakaoTV, Bilibili and many other international video apps

Switcher Studio

  • Streams to Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitch and Periscope
  • Big plus is that its core product allows for multiple camera angles, in case you’re looking to put on a show that’s more highly produced

Streamlabs

  • Streams to Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Mixer
  • Slightly more involved technically

Switchboard Live

  • Streams to Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitch and Periscope
  • Slightly more involved technically

B2B services

These companies in livestreaming cater more to organizations and brands rather than artists, and many provide more managed and hands-on rather than self-serve solutions.

AUDIO

If you’d prefer not to show your face in your livestream and just want to talk with fans or with friends on the air, in the style of a traditional talk radio, then this section is for you. There aren’t as many options as in video, as live audio is still an emerging category on a global level, but I see this becoming more common in the future as certain markets like China warm up to the format.

Free

Stationhead

  • Live audio broadcasting on top of tracks synced to your Spotify Premium or Apple Music account (so it’s not *totally* free, but the app itself is)
  • Mobile-only, for now
  • Every time a listener tunes in to your show, it registers one additional stream for whatever track is playing at the time — so, unlike some other livestreaming platforms, there’s a direct line between audience and revenue for artists
  • Examples: OpenauxRah Ali

Mixlr

  • Free desktop and mobile streaming capabilities
  • Ability to connect Skype, Google Hangouts and other audio messaging applications to a broadcast
  • Livestreams can be exported automatically to Soundcloud, Mixcloud and Dropbox
  • Music examples: AutechreNeil Finn
  • FAQ

Discord Go Live

  • Best for people already embedded in an online gaming community and/or YouTube creator community, given Discord’s existing brand association with those worlds
  • Can also connect to Patreon for a members-only experience
  • Only available on Windows/PC

Gimme Radio

  • 24/7 radio stations focused on metal and country, hosted by a curated slate of DJs from the artist, music-media and entertainment communities
  • Metal DJs include Dave Mustaine (Megadeth), Jessica Pimentel (Orange Is The New Black) and Randy Blythe (Lamb Of God)
  • Live text chat included for every show
  • Normally invite-only on the artist side, but Gimme is now extending an offer to any touring metal band affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to host a radio show; interested acts should contact extremetimes@gimmeradio.com

Douyin/TikTok

  • The Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, is currently testing a new feature that lets a limited number of creators on the platform livestream audio — the archives of which may begin to show up in users’ content feeds alongside the standard shortform videos. While this feature is not available to everyone, it’s nonetheless important to know about as live audio is taking off in China, particularly among younger generations of listeners.

Free-to-play

This is still an emerging model in the live-audio space, but I found one example:

Castbox Livecast (from the podcast app Castbox)

  • Desktop and mobile capabilities
  • Can host up to eight simultaneous callers for group livestreams
  • Fans can give streamers virtual gifts that convert into cash
  • Livestreams can be uploaded immediately as on-demand podcast episodes
  • FAQ here

Ticketed/paywalled

This is also still an emerging model, but I found one example — also from a podcast hosting platform:

Podbean Live Stream (from Podbean)

  • Up to four guests
  • Ability to direct-message and take calls from listeners
  • Livestreams can be uploaded immediately as on-demand podcast episodes
  • Ability to set a limited number of free tickets, after which attendees will have to pay a certain number of “Golden Beans” (Podbean’s virtual currency) for a standard admission ticket
  • Attendees can also send virtual gifts to live hosts in the form of Golden Beans, which can be exchanged for cash
  • Full instructions here

OTHER

Virtual reality

Again, because of its technical complexity, broadcasting a show in VR only makes sense if you truly know the medium, so tread carefully.

AltspaceVR

TheWaveXR

MelodyVR

  • More consumer-facing; offers a selection of pay-per-view concerts filmed in VR/360º
  • Selective with their partnerships, but they’re looking for more artists and music companies to collaborate with through the summer

Sansar

Tribe XR

  • Core product is focused on DJ education and training, but artists can also stream their own DJ sets through Tribe to Twitch, Facebook, YouTube and Mixer, using their own uploaded music or royalty-free tracks that the company provides
  • Artists must have a VR headset to use the app

Live ecommerce

This is an emerging category that combines livestreaming with the ability to feature products next to videos and/or allow people to purchase products in real time as they see them in the stream. While it has yet to be truly proven in the marketplace, it may be appropriate for artists who are looking to combine a live experience with promotions for Bandcamp or merch pages.

Webinars and online education

One of the most devastating aspects of the SXSW cancellation for me personally is the breadth of educational content that’s just going down the drain because it no longer has a platform.

With that in mind, I wanted to include a few potential tools for those speakers looking to create online courses, webinars or other videos around more educational, industry-facing panels and workshops, as a safety net in the wake of ongoing event cancellations. There may also be an opportunity here to turn otherwise ephemeral, one-time panels into more long-term revenue streams by making the videos and courses on-demand.

Virtual meet-and-greets

As more tours get cancelled or postponed, one particular aspect of the concert experience is also suffering: fan meet-and-greets. Major artists like Niall Horan and KISS have canceled their recent meet-and-greets, forfeiting not just significant income from VIP ticket buyers, but also an opportunity to commemorate and interact with their biggest fans and supporters face-to-face, which has tremendous emotional value on both sides of the table.

Artists of all sizes looking to move their VIP fan meet-and-greet experiences online can use most of the platforms listed above, particularly those in the free-to-play or ticketed/paywalled sections. But there are also a handful of platforms with a specific meet-and-greet interface that looks and works differently from those of standard livestreaming platforms.

Looped

  • Artists set the price tag and amount of time per meet-and-greet session (e.g. 1-minute sessions costing $50 each), and pay Looped $150 per hour streamed ($125/hour for higher-volume stream-credit purchases) — making the app most worth it for several shorter, higher-value interactions, rather than longer, more casual streams like on Twitch
  • Examples of artists who have previously used Looped: KT TunstallHarry Hudsonmxmtoon (full talent list here)
  • Queueing system and interactive waiting room
  • Artists and fans can share screenshots and video footage from chats
  • Fans can reserve upcoming slots and get email updates about future sessions

Chatalyze

  • Many similar features as Looped, but different business model: Chatalyze takes a 15% commission on sales (+ 5% payment processing fee through PayPal)
  • Fans can leave optional tips after their chats
  • Upcoming feature: real-time digital autograph signing on screenshots or pre-uploaded images
  • Music example: Cam Bogle

Cameo

  • On-demand rather than livestreamed, but similarly tailored for shorter, higher-value interaction, so addresses the fan meet-and-greet market directly
  • Fans can book personalized video shout-outs from their favorite artists on the platform, at a price that the artists set
  • Music examples: LecraeAnneliese van der PolSpinderella
  • Web and iOS app
  • FAQ

Fundo

  • Launched in August 2019 as part of Area 120, Google’s internal incubator for employees’ experimental side projects (which also helped develop Pollstar’s data-insights tool DEMAND)
  • Fans pay a price the artist sets to chat in a small-group setting
  • Photo booth feature
  • Live examples of creator landing pages: Jessii VeeKey Riqué and KreekCraft (all YouTube influencers)
  • Early access request form

 

Author: Cherie Hu

2020-04-02T16:17:35+00:00