Live Stream Basics for DJs

A short guide to get set up and going with live streaming

Thinking about getting into livestreaming? Don’t know where to start? Already started looking into it but want to make your streams look more professional from your generic Facebook going live? Well here is a short guide that can get you started. To note, while there are many different ways and options to stream, this will cover the set up that I use while pointing out areas that you can adjust or change. I’ll also be looking at this from a more DJ esc point of view but obviously this should still be relatively universal. So let’s get to it.

It must sound good

First up is Audio, this is by far the most important thing for a DJ but also important overall. To get good audio, you need 2 things, a sound card to connect your DJ equipment to your computer and a microphone so you can talk. While the mic line inputs on PC’s and laptops are useable, laptop mics are generally terrible and the input jack can give poor sound quality. This is why an external soundcard is by far the best option.

Basic stream set up with a sound card and DJ Gear, if your sound card only has 2 inputs, you can run your mic via the DJ gear.

There are many soundcard options out there and this will depend on your budget and how many inputs you want. To live stream a dj set you need at least 2 inputs to connect most dj set ups to your computer (just the same way you would connect you dj set up to amps and/or speakers/sound systems) For me, I have the Scarlet 2i2 which has 2 inputs and works great. You can run your DJ gear directly into it using the 2 inputs as right and left channel (and run a mic via your DJ gear) and the sound will go straight to your PC while also giving you the option to output to your PC speakers or to some monitors (using the monitor outputs on the soundcard) This option is perfect for home setups, but it is not so good for live streaming from a club or event. To stream from a club or an event, the simplest way is to run an RCA to Headphone cable from the mixer to your laptop mic in. While the audio on this isn’t overly great, it is the simplest and least invasive option which is very important for most types of venues. If you are lucky enough to be able to move things around at a gig or venue then you could look at bringing your external soundcard and using it with a laptop or PC at the venue but cases like this are not going to be very common or practical.

A solid and reliable sound card at a good price point around RP $150 usd

The next thing to look at when livestreaming is of course your microphone. Again, this is a pretty subjective piece of equipment. The easiest way is to pick your price point, search reviews and recommendations online and go from there. Remember, while more expensive mics tend to be good, cheap doesn’t always mean bad and can be more than good enough for your needs, most people won’t be able to tell the difference unless it is glaringly bad. You’re not trying to make a studio album, you just want your voice to sound clean and clear. Personally I have the Shure SM58 and the Rode NT1-A, both sound great and are reasonably priced.

Great microphone with a great sound RP $230 usd

Looks are everything

Moving on from audio, we have the next big thing, video. Now this subject gets very interesting and can also get extremely complicated. As a general live streamer, you are going to want at least a face cam so that people can see you. For a DJ, you might want more than a single camera, a camera to focus on you and a camera to focus on the equipment or if you are livestreaming from a venue, a camera to focus on the crowd. If you are wanting to run a multiple camera set up then you don’t want to be breaking the bank having several top end cameras and we know that camera prices vary from cheap 30$ cameras up to and over 20k. The good thing is that cheap cameras can still do a great job at capturing video for livestreaming and while they might not be able to compete with the higher end stuff at a professional level, they can still give you a great picture. I use 2 cheap action cameras that cost around $40 each and both are perfect for my needs. They work decent enough in low light settings and both look great under a well-lit home set up. Having one good camera is definitely worth it but when you’re looking at a second or third camera to livestream multiple viewpoints at the same time, you can go cheaper while still looking good. As a DJ if you are wanting to live stream or record at clubs etc remember to get a camera that is good in low light and research accordingly.

The SJ9000SE Elite action camera is a great buy at RP $50 usd

A side note here. While 4k is out there and many people are starting to use it, general streaming in 4k still isn’t a big thing yet as its accessibility is still relatively limited. 4K cameras are easy to get and a GoPro isn’t going to break the bank but a lot of streaming platforms are actually capped meaning often as a free user, your stream won’t go higher that 720 or 1080. As a DJ this isn’t going to have a huge effect on you starting out streaming but it is worth noting. This does effect gamers a lot more.

OBS is king

Having the gear is all nice and good but once you have it, you need to be able to utilize it, this is where OBS comes into play. OBS is a great piece of software that allows you to create and edit scenes easily, adding overlays, music, video and of course your audio and camera feeds into a single scene. I won’t go into detail about how to use it as there is hundreds of tutorials out there, but just to let you know, the software is free and it is more than good enough for most professional streamers. Once you learn to use OBS, your options for live steaming open up exponentially and even better, you can also record your stream directly to your hard drive as well to edit and use the footage at a later date. There are other programs that work similarly but OBS tends to be the standard.

On another side note, it is also worth learning how to use Photoshop so that you can create your own graphics and overlays to be used within OBS. There are some options online that you can use but knowing your way around a program like Photoshop or something similar is highly recommend so that you have more control over how your stream looks.

Restream is the way

Once you have your live stream all set up and ready to go, where should you live stream it to? Which platform is the best? Again, this will vary depending on your needs and what kind of audience you want to reach. The big 3 platforms are Facebook, Twitch and YouTube. As far as initial reach goes, Facebook is the better of the 3 since you should have most of your social network on there already. Getting that network across to other platforms can be very difficult since most platforms don’t play well with each other and are in direct competition. Talking about this is a very long and indepth subject which I won’t go into here. However, I will give you a very viable option that can help you choose where to put your focus and it is called Restream. This is a website that allows you to stream to multiple platforms all at the same time and is great when starting out. You can stream your content to all these different platforms at the same time and then see where you get traction and from there, you can focus your efforts to the more suitable platform. Restream is free, you can stream directly to it from OBS and it is a powerful tool at your disposal. The only downside is that you have to pay if you want to stream to a Facebook Page, but it is free to stream to your personal page.

Final side note, copyright will be an issue on a lot of streaming platforms and there isn’t much you can do about it. The music detection algorithms are automatic and getting around them is difficult at best. Facebook and YouTube will just straight cut your stream, so using any popular music is generally out of the question, even if you have the rights to stream the music, it will still cut you off. Twitch is the only big platform that allows you to play any music live without your stream being affected, however, the VOD of that video will be muted on your page once your stream has finished.

Final thoughts

This should hopefully help you out if your interested in getting into or stepping up your streaming game. I’ve been experimenting with various options over the years and trying things out to see what works for me and my needs and at the end of the day that’s what you will need to do as well, figure out which options work for you. If you have any questions about this subject or want to know more about my different set ups and how I run them, feel free to comment or drop me a message.

Marcus Powell has been living and working in South Korea since 2010. Aside from writing for small publications, he is also a popular Club DJ, Gamer, Commuinty manager, esports fan and anime enthusiast.

2 thoughts on “Live Stream Basics for DJs

    1. Yeah it is difficult because having your stream cut off midway is not helpful at all. Even Twitch is having some problems with DMCA claims… the new Mixcloud service is worth a look but again it is limited.

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