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How to Live Stream on Any Device and to Any Platform (2023)


How to Live Stream on Any Device and to Any Platform (2023)

Have you ever tuned in to a live broadcast from your favorite podcaster? What about that gamer you follow on Twitch? 

Something is exciting about being in the live, virtual audience of a content creator you follow—and most people agree. Live streaming is such a rapidly growing industry that the market as a whole is expected to be worth over $247 billion by 2027. This makes live streaming a great way to reach your audience in an interactive setting in real-time. What’s not to love?

We’ll walk you through everything you need to know on how to live stream on any device, to any platform, and from anywhere.

What Do You Need to Start Live Streaming?

Before you go live for the first time, you’ll need the right equipment to capture both video and audio sources. 

How do you capture audio and video sources, you ask? Well, if you’re already a podcaster or video content creator, you probably already have the equipment needed. 

At its most basic, a live streaming setup needs:

  • Mic or microphone to capture audio, along with a microphone arm to hold it
  • A camera or webcam to capture video, along with a tripod to stabilize it
  • Proper lighting 
  • The aesthetically-pleasing backdrop of your choice (such as your studio or a green-screen/chroma key background)
  • A stable internet connection
  • A video encoder (more on that below)

While your laptop or smartphone has a built-in camera and microphone, we still recommend investing in external equipment to capture video and sound. 

Video Encoder

What is a video encoder, and why do you need one?

Simply put, an encoder is a middleman between the raw feed from your camera and your live streaming setup. It converts video files into the proper format for live streaming.

It makes sense if you think about it; to be crisp and clear, raw video and audio files have to contain a lot of data. But a well-functioning live stream needs to be light and fast so that your audience can watch it… well, live. 

Something needs to be in the middle of the process to translate all that complex, raw footage into a more tightly compressed output. 

That’s where encoders come in. If you want to live stream, you can’t skip the encoder.

Types Of Encoders

Software Encoders

Software encoders are the most beginner-friendly option, with a wide variety of pricing options and less learning curve. Some of the most popular software encoders include Streamlabs OBS and Livestream Studio 6

Keep in mind that if you use a software encoder, you’ll also need to buy a capture card to translate what your camera is seeing to your computer. Once your computer receives the feed, the encoder software can take it from there.

Hardware Encoders

Hardware encoders are separate devices designed especially for live streaming. They come with a higher price tag and can be more difficult to upgrade, but a hardware encoder comes with a few advantages over software encoders, including:

  • It doesn’t require a separate capture card
  • Since it’s a separate device, it won’t bog your computer down with the task of encoding your live stream.

If you're already putting your computer through a lot of work (like gaming in HD), you may want to use a hardware encoder. 

Recording Software

And high-quality audio and video are about more than just the hardware you choose; you need the right recording software, too. Remember, you want quality that’s good enough to keep your audience from getting so frustrated with grainy video or fuzzy sound that they abandon your live stream.

What’s great about Riverside is that our recording software can simplify the live streaming process for you. Our software lets you record high-quality audio and video for your podcasts and other audio/video content, and it also lets you live stream directly from your Riverside dashboard—no video encoder needed! 

Check out this explainer video to learn how to live stream easily with Riverside.

With Riverside, you get features like:

  • Best audio and video quality: Everything is recorded locally in uncompressed 48kHz WAV audio tracks and up to 4K video tracks for each host/guest.
  • Multistreaming made simple: Easily stream to LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Twitch directly from the dashboard with the touch of a button.
  • Go live and record at the same time: Automatically record your live streams for publication later to other channels (such as your podcast, social media, or your website).
  • Integrated Media board: Add audio and video clips straight from the recording studio.
  • Audience call-in feature: Host Q&A sessions, community gatherings, and AMAs with your audience live in your session.
  • Text-based Video Editor : Repurpose your live into shareable clips, or polish up the full recording as easily as editing a text document
  • Host up to 7 guests: Invite guests to join from any desktop or mobile device.

Learn more, or start live streaming seamlessly on Riverside today!

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Easily record high-quality podcasts & videos remotely
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Streaming Destination

Finally, you’ll need to decide where you’ll distribute your live stream.

There are many streaming platforms to choose from these days. The one you choose depends on things like where your audience hangs out, what kind of audience interaction options you’re looking for (polls, chat, analytics, etc.), and whether you want your live stream to be publicly accessible.

Some of the most popular live-streaming destinations in use right now include:

  • Twitch
  • YouTube
  • Facebook 
  • Instagram
  • TikTok
  • LinkedIn

Depending on the destination(s) you choose, you may not be limited to live streaming to one at a time. Simulcasting is a great way to maximize your audience reach across multiple channels.

How to Live Stream

Now that you have an idea of the equipment needed, let’s take a brief overview of the basic steps required to set up your first live stream.

Step 1. Plug Everything In

You need to physically connect the feeds from your camera and microphone to your computer no matter your setup

If you have a hardware encoder, connect your audio and video feeds directly to it; then, connect your encoder to your PC or laptop. If you’re planning to use a software encoder, use a capture card.

Step 2. Set Up Your Encoder

If you have an external encoder, it needs to be configured to fit the proper settings for live streaming. The device may come with an app, or the manufacturer may have a website that you’ll need to visit to input your preferred settings. 

A software encoder should have those setting options available within the platform.

Most Important Encoder Settings

While you may choose to go with the default settings for your hardware or software encoder, make sure the following are correct:

  • Bit rate should be at least 3000 Kbps
  • Frame rate should be 25 or 30 
  • Output resolution should be 1280x720
  • Keyframe interval should be 2 seconds

Step 3. Connect and Configure Your Streaming Destination 

Next, you’ll need to link your live stream setup to your streaming platform of choice. Your streaming platform should give you a streaming key and URL for your live feed, which you’ll need to enter into your encoder. 

That way, your encoder will know where to send the audio/video feed—and the platform will recognize your encoder when it begins sending information.

Step 4. Start Streaming

Once you’ve plugged in your audio and video feeds, configured your encoder settings, and input the key data from your streaming destination, you’re ready to go live! 

Press “start streaming” on your encoder’s user interface (UI) and check the preview window on your streaming platform of choice. You should see whether the streaming destination is receiving a signal.

And if there’s a slight lag, don’t worry. It’s normal to see a 10-20-second delay between your encoder and your streaming destination’s feed.

When you’re ready to stop the live stream, use the UI on your encoder—not the streaming destination—to stop the feed.

How to Live Stream to Any Channel

Let’s go over how to connect your encoder to six of the most popular streaming destinations in use today. Remember that for each of these options, you’ll still need to connect your camera and microphone to your hardware or software encoder of choice first.

How to Live Stream on Twitch

Live stream platform, Twitch home page.

Twitch is a popular streaming destination for gamers. If you’re a pro at the latest video game and want to show the world, simply:

  1. Create a Twitch account.
  2. Connect your encoder to Twitch using the stream key (go to Settings > Channel and Videos, then copy the primary stream key. Paste that into your encoder’s streaming service settings).
  3. Make sure your encoder’s streaming settings are up to Twitch's standards.
  4. You’re ready to stream!

How to Live Stream on YouTube

YouTube is the most popular video content channel in the world, with approximately 1.86 billion users in 2021. Uploading live and interactive content can help you stand out from the competition and draw a bigger audience.

To get started streaming on YouTube Live with an encoder:

  1. Make sure your encoder is on the list of YouTube Live verified encoders.
  2. Create a YouTube channel, if you haven’t already.
  3. Verify your YouTube channel for live streaming by visiting this verification link
  4. Go to your channel dashboard, click the Create button in the top right corner, and click Go Live.
  5. Select Stream on the left-hand side. Select New Stream, add your title, category, privacy settings, description, and thumbnail image. Click Create Stream.
  6. Click on Stream Settings and copy your stream key. 
  7. Paste the stream key into your encoder’s user interface.

How to Live Stream on Facebook

As one of the biggest social media platforms today, Facebook is an excellent option for content creators and businesses alike who want to connect with their audiences, hold a virtual event, or broadcast a live performance. Facebook likes you stream from your Page, profile, group, or event. 

To start live streaming on Facebook:

  1. Navigate to Facebook on your computer. 
  2. Under the What’s on your mind, [Your Name]? at the top of your news feed, select Live video.
  3. If you want to go live right now, click Create live video. If you’d like to schedule a live event for later, click Create Event.
  4. Select a video source (if you’re using an encoder, pick Streaming software and copy and paste the stream key into your encoder’s UI)
  5. On the same screen, choose where to post the video (your timeline, page, group, etc.),  who can see the video, and give it a title and description. You can also choose whether the video will be shared to your Facebook stories.
  6. When everything is ready, click Go live.

To learn more about going live on Facebook, check out their ​advanced Facebook Live guide.

How to Live Stream on Instagram

If you have a large following on Instagram, a live stream can help you connect with your audience in real-time. And you can reuse the broadcast by adding it to your Live Archive or sharing it to your Reels.

Note that if you want to go live on Instagram, you’ll need to stream from your phone. The platform won’t allow you to go live on PC or Mac using a browser. 

To live stream on Instagram, simply:

  1. Swipe right in your Feed and scroll to Live.
  2. Toggle between the icons in the left-hand column for optional settings like giving your live stream a title, selecting a charity, choosing who can see the feed, and scheduling when the live stream will happen.
  3. When you’re ready to go live, tap the circle at the bottom of the screen.
Instagram live stream on a mobile display

How to Live Stream on TikTok

TikTok is quickly becoming one of the most popular social media apps out there, and it recently launched the Live feature that lets creators with at least a thousand followers create live streams. If that applies to you, here’s how you do it:

1. Open the TikTok app on your phone and tap the “+” icon at the bottom of the screen.

Arrow showing how to live stream on TikTok from the home screen.

2. If you have more than a thousand followers, you can scroll to the LIVE option at the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen.

3. When the settings are to your liking, tap Go LIVE.

How to Live Stream on Linkedin

LinkedIn Business Live on a mobile display
(Image source: LinkedIn Business)

If your target audience is made up of primarily business-to-business (B2B) professionals or students, you may want to go live on LinkedIn. Follow these steps to live stream:

  1. Review the Live Video access criteria.
  2. Apply for access to use a third-party broadcast tool or custom stream (RTMP) tool. Or, if you use one of LinkedIn’s partner software tools, you may be able to auto-apply through the software.
  3. Check the Resource Hub for instructions on how to connect your encoder to LinkedIn. 
  4. Set your encoder to LinkedIn’s suggested settings.
  5. Go live!

How to Live Stream From Your Phone

If you want to live stream from your phone, you won’t use a hardware encoder. But there are plenty of software encoders out there that work great with iOS and Androids alike. 

Mobile live streaming can be an excellent option for content creators on the go.

Download a Software Encoder App from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store

Riverside.fm has mobile apps for iOS and Android that turn your phone into a recording studio. While live streams need to be set up from the Riverside web app initially, your guests can then join on their mobile apps and record on the go.

But if you’re looking for other options, some of the most popular software encoder apps include:

Connect Your Software Encoder App to Your Streaming Platform of Choice

Usually, this process is as simple as copying and pasting the Stream Key/Name and Stream URL from your encoder software into your streaming platform. 

Once you’ve connected the two, make sure you can see a preview window in your streaming platform app and that everything looks right.

Ensure You Have a Stable Internet Connection

Since you’ll be streaming over mobile data or WiFi, make sure it’s fast enough to support a connection speed of at least 750 Kbps—but if you can swing it, 2 Mbps or more is even better.

Start Recording and Broadcast Live!

If you set everything up correctly, a live feed from your iPhone or Android camera should be in your streaming destination of choice. You’re ready to stream!

How to Live Stream From Any Console

If you’re a gaming expert and want to broadcast your finesse on Twitch or YouTube, follow these instructions to live stream from your favorite game console.

How to Livestream Nintendo Switch

  1. Dock your Nintendo Switch.
  2. Connect an HDMI cable between your Switch and your capture card.
  3. Connect another HDMI cable between your capture card and your TV or monitor (this lets you see to play the game).
  4. Connect a USB cable between your capture card and your computer (this lets you record the gameplay).
  5. Launch your encoder software and connect it to your preferred streaming destination. Again, you’ll probably need to copy and paste your Stream Key/Name and Stream URL.
  6. Start streaming!

How to Live Stream on Ps4

Playstation makes it easier than ever to broadcast your gameplay on Twitch. Simply:

  1. Select Settings on your Ps4.
  2. Under Account Management, select Link with Other Services. 
  3. Select Twitch (or choose from one of the other service options, such as YouTube or Twitter) and follow the sign-in instructions.
  4. Start the game you wish to stream.
  5. Press the Share button on your Ps4 controller and select Broadcast Gameplay on the screen. Select the streaming service you’d like to go live on, make sure the settings are to your liking, and press Start Broadcasting.

How to Live Stream on Xbox

  1. Press the Xbox button to open your user guide.
  2. Select Profile & system > Settings > Devices & Streaming > Device Connections > Allow game streaming to other devices.
  3. Under the Xbox app, select Allow connections from any device.
  4. Go to the Microsoft Store and download the Twitch app. Open the app and select Log In. You’ll be given an activation code that you’ll need to type into your Twitch account on your computer browser.
  5. Once you’re logged in, open the Xbox One game that you want to live stream.
  6. Go back to your Xbox One dashboard, open the Twitch app, and click Broadcast. This will reopen your game and minimize the Twitch app to a bar on the screen’s right side.
  7. Adjust the settings, including the title, whether the microphone is enabled, and the image quality. 
  8. When you’re ready, press B on your controller to return to the main Twitch broadcast menu. Press Start broadcasting.

Final Thoughts

Whether you want to broadcast your gaming expertise, hold a live video podcast episode, or simply connect with your fans, live streaming is a great way to create engaging and interactive content for your audience.

We hope these tips and tricks help you feel a bit less intimidated by the idea of going live for your first time! It can be a bit scary at first, but you’ll quickly get the hang of it. If you’d like more actionable advice, we recommend checking out the following articles:

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