Guide to Facebook Live DJing 2017
In the Spring of 2016 we brought you our Guide to DJing with Facebook Live and as we predicted the platform has been embraced by DJs of all levels as a way to connect with fans and followers.
With so many DJs embracing Facebook Live it's vital that you stand out from the crowd, our new guide aims to help you use the latest tech to put some distance between you and the pack with tips on branding, audio quality and visual improvements. We'll also provide you with some guidance to structure your show/set and give you some pointers on how to avoid the dreaded copyright stream interruptions.
In last year's guide we tackled audio improvements when using your phone as the audio/visual capture and streaming device and the Rode SC4 offered a serious leap in quality when compared to using your onboard microphone but as time has moved on there's really no reason that you shouldn't be streaming live via a Mac or PC using a software platform such as OBS Studio or Wirecast.
Facebook Live Audio Improvements
We're not going to get too in depth when it comes to the technical side of connections and audio setup as we've heard through the grapevine that our friends over at DJcity have tasked Mojaxx with the creation of the definitive live streaming guide for DJs so we'll summarise some of the potential Facebook Live audio improvements you can make for different scenarios.
Firstly, do consider that you could connect directly from your mixer if it has a USB audio interface built in. Logan D uses the latest Pioneer DJM-900NXS2 for this very purpose during his weekly broadcast and thanks to the audio improvements that have been made with the NXS2 kit audio reproduction is flawless. There are other mixers that offer this capability such as the Allen & Heath Xone 43C and we've added some in list form at the end of the post.
If you'd rather not invest in a new mixer then you could add an audio interface to your Facebook Live DJ set up - the Novation AudioHub 2x4 is perfect for this application - simply connect your record or master out to the line input and select the Audiohub as your input source - do remember that, dependent on your mixer configuration, using the record out may not include the mic channel in your audio feed.
We've had a number of requests for the best way to stream a set live from a club or festival and, as we head into festival season, there are a few options. Ultimately it makes more sense to broadcast from these locations using a mobile device as you're likely to be carrying your device with you and it will save you lugging lots of additional kit to facilitate the stream. The SC4 can be used in this situation but as you're unlikely to have control over the output levels which will have been set to ensure the club/stage sounds at its best we'd suggest you opt for a decent audio interface. Although we don't sell them we'd recommend the Evermix interface for this purpose - while designed to help you record your sets for later upload we've tested the Evermix in a Live stream situation and found the portable interface is perfect for streaming out in clubland.
While you're getting set up for streaming from outside of your home/studio we'd recommend you grab an iOgrapher for your device and mount this to a microphone stand to ensure a stable picture while broadcasting.
Facebook Live Visual Improvements
This leads us on nicely to visuals - while the quality of optics in many mobile devices are incredible if you're looking to stand out from the crowd then we'd recommend you use a decent capture device. To be fair the lens quality in some laptops is incredible - the glass in Apple's Macbook Pro can produce some stunning video when positioned correctly but we're not going to take responsibility for damaged kit that's fallen after being balanced dangerously while you try to capture your set, if you're going to use your laptop make sure you place it on a stable surface.
If using your laptop isn't really an option then you could invest in a decent webcam - or two, three or four. Something we'd like to point out, we've seen a number of live feeds with multiple camera angles and, while this does help to provide eye candy if you're not the most animated DJ on the decks, you must remember that Facebook video is streamed at 720p - there isn't a lot of real estate on screen for clear images! Also fish eye lenses should be avoided if possible.
Staying with visuals for this final point - branding your stream is important but do remember that you don't want to obscure too much of the screen and you need to position your logo away from the Live icon.
General Facebook Live Tips
If you want to grow your audience you should avoid going live without announcement and make the energy you invest into Facebook Live count - try to stick to a regular showtime, at least weekly and if you can get some guests over where possible. The additional social reach this will provide you with will help to boost your numbers over the following weeks and if you can add guests on rotation you'll maintain audience interest.
While we're on the subject of audience interest, if you're going to have a guest feature then you should really do your homework, rather than the usual “so what are you up to?” questions. Hit discogs and other places on the web to dig out some hidden release info. You might stumble across something that you weren't aware of and this talking point could provide the boost to your numbers you've been looking for - and if you do get deep into a topic that people aren't aware of make sure you use this as the lead when sharing the show post broadcast.
Finally we move onto the dreaded copyright issue - Facebook finds itself in a similar situation to that of Soundcloud over the last few years. While Facebook wants to keep you live and your viewers hooked it cannot avoid the fact that streaming is redistribution of copyright material and the algorithm that has been deployed to satisfy the demands of the copyright owners is ruthless. If you're not whitelisted and streaming from your official artist page (more on this in a moment) then it's highly likely that you will eventually play something that is stored in the database and your stream will be paused until you play something that isn't copy protected.
There are a couple of ways to avoid the dreaded copyright takedowns (which will also prevent your set from uploading post broadcast). If you have an official artist page that is verified then you're already on your way to white listing - if you're big enough to be on the digital content distributors radar then the chances are that you'll be exempt from copyright takedowns.
There are a couple of other ways to avoid copyright related pain - you could invite an MC along if it suits your genre, usually their chatter will confuse the copyright algorithm by altering the waveform being analysed and you can of course steer clear of tracks that are from the more stringent labels - Warner Music are particularly hot so if you're playing any old skool UK Garage that might have featured on a Pure Garage compilation then expect to lose your feed and viewers. Lastly, if you do get a warning - check which track triggered it, check the label(s) that its on and blacklist tunes that could cause stream interrupts - as the saying goes, fail to prepare - prepare to fail.
If you'd like some more guidance our friends over at the On The Rise DJ Academy are offering a Facebook Live Seminar on Wednesday 15th March 2017. There are still some limited places available so be sure to sign up if this is of interest to you.