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The Basics of Live Streaming

Theaters may be closed down for now, but that doesn’t mean performances have to be. Live streaming has become a popular form of entertainment during quarantine, and has made for a good substitute for live performances for the time being. Though utilizing the various platforms may seem daunting, live streaming is a great way to continue showcasing your work while maybe even reaching new and wider audiences! 

There are lots of different ways to live stream a performance. Broadcast streaming software and video conferencing software are the most popular platforms, and also the easiest to navigate. Broadcast streaming software, like Facebook Live and Youtube Live, are good options for performances with large expected audiences. This way, many people can attend without actually being shown. On the contrary, a video conferencing platform like Zoom would display all of the attendees at once while the performance is happening.

Facebook Live is a great way to stream live content, especially because your friends, family, and peers are likely already using Facebook! You can create a live event right on your Facebook page, and anyone who is friends with you will see it on their feed. You can also share it with anyone you’d like to attend. 

You can also stream live to Youtube Live, but you’ll have to verify your channel first. There is no subscriber count required to be verified. The benefit of using Youtube is that you can embed the live stream output, just like any other Youtube video, so you can share it live on your website or keep it on your website for anyone to view. 

Note that these live options only allow for one camera to stream at a time. So if you’d like your performers to actually give live performances and you’re not physically with them, you’ll have to download a (free) third-party software, like Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). From there, you could create a Zoom call with all of the performers and share your screen to OBS or whichever software you choose. You could also pre-record all of the performances, edit them together, and stream the final product to the third-party software. 

Zoom is a great option if you’re interested in broadcasting to an invited audience or getting live feedback. This allows for a far more interactive experience, and is likely simpler to navigate than the above options. You can download the basic version of Zoom for free, but the duration of your meetings will be limited to 40 minutes and only 100 participants can attend. That may be all you need, but it might be worth looking into the other plans Zoom offers if you’d like to be able to host more participants for a longer amount of time. 

If any of these live streaming options sound difficult to you, don’t give up just yet – try experimenting with all of them! You can do practice live streams on Facebook and Youtube, or you can grab a few friends and practice a Zoom performance. Play around with all of the tools each of these services have to offer, and eventually you’ll figure out what works best for you. 


P.S. We offer live virtual readings for members of our TheaterMakers Studio community every single month! Want to get some feedback on your show? Click here to try it out!

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