Tips & Tricks

How to live stream on YouTube

September 13th, 2019 Michael Monette

YouTube Live is an excellent platform for businesses, gamers, and social streamers alike. Problem is, starting a YouTube live stream isn’t exactly straightforward. If you’re unclear about how to live stream on YouTube, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ll show you how to live stream on YouTube in 2019 through a web browser, mobile device, streaming software (i.e., a software encoder), or a hardware encoder. Whatever method you choose, the starting point is the same: enable live streaming on YouTube.

How to enable live streaming on YouTube

Live streaming is disabled on new YouTube channels by default. Here’s how to enable it:

    1. Verify your YouTube account. It’s a simple process. Select your country, preferred verification code delivery method, and enter the number of a mobile phone you have access to. Punch in the six-digit verification code when you get it to verify your account.
    2. Enable live streaming via the channel features page, the YouTube Studio live events page, or the Live Control Room.
    3. Wait 24 hours for live streaming to activate on your account.

As long as there aren’t any live streaming restrictions on your channel, you can now live stream on YouTube through a web browser or streaming encoder. If you want to use a mobile device to live stream, there’s an additional hurdle: your channel must have at least 1,000 subscribers. Annoying, but there are other ways of mobile live streaming out there.

Four ways to live stream on YouTube

You can live stream on YouTube through a:

Which avenue makes the most sense depends on your goals. Web or mobile will probably do the trick for the average social streamer, while gamers will want to opt for streaming software. Consider a hardware encoder if you’re live streaming for your business or want to make a career out of live streaming. (Businesses should also look into subscription-based live streaming platforms to get access to advanced features for monetization, analytics, and lead generation.)

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How to live stream on YouTube: Web browser

The easiest way to live stream on YouTube is straight from your web browser using a built-in or external USB webcam. A webcam might meet your needs if all you want to do is share your thoughts and engage with your audience in real time. It’s also possible to live stream through your browser with a higher-end camera like a digital camcorder or DSLR. To do so, you’ll need a USB capture card to bring the video signal into your computer. Then YouTube can recognize the camera as if it were a plug-and-play webcam.

Once you’re all set with a camera, here’s how to live stream on YouTube through your web browser:

    1. Log into your YouTube account and click the “Create a video or post” button in the top-right corner of the screen.
    2. Select “Go Live” from the drop-down menu.
    3. If prompted, give YouTube and your browser any required permissions for live streaming (i.e., camera, microphone).
    4. In the Live Control Room, ensure “Webcam” is selected in the navigation bar at the top.
    5. Give your live stream a title, select a privacy setting (public, private, or unlisted), and choose whether you’d like to live stream now or schedule an event for later.
    6. Click “More options.” Select your camera and microphone from the drop-down menus if they aren’t listed already.
    7. Click “Advanced settings” to toggle chat, age restriction, and monetization (YouTube Partner Program members only).
    8. Press “Next” and pose for a thumbnail. Mouse over the thumbnail to bring up options to take another picture or upload a custom thumbnail from your computer.
    9. Hit “Go live.”

That’s it. Remember to press “End Stream” when you’re finished. YouTube will automatically upload an on-demand version of the live stream to your channel so viewers who missed it can play it back. You can see and manage all your current, scheduled, and past live streams within the “Manage” tab in the Live Control Room.

How to live stream on YouTube: Mobile

Mobile live streaming is ideal for spur-of-the-moment audience engagements and dynamic events where freedom of movement is key. Unfortunately, you’ll have to be somewhat established to do it. Only YouTube channels with at least 1,000 subscribers can live stream on a mobile device. This restriction can be a pain, especially if mobile live streaming is a big part of your live video plans. Luckily, there are multiple ways to go mobile on YouTube with fewer than 1,000 subscribers, including with the popular Epiphan Webcaster X2.

Once you’ve hit the subscriber threshold, though, live streaming to YouTube on a mobile device is pretty simple:

    1. Download the YouTube app from the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).
    2. Open the app and press on the camera icon in the top-right corner.
    3. Grant all the permissions YouTube needs for live streaming (camera, microphone, photos, storage).
    4. Select “Go live.”
    5. Choose to record with your phone’s camera (camera icon) or what’s on your display (phone icon).
    6. Set a title for your stream.
    7. Press “More options” to add a description, toggle live chat and monetization (if eligible), set an age restriction, configure privacy settings, and (optionally) schedule a time for your live stream.
    8. Press “Next” and take a picture for your live stream thumbnail or upload an existing one from your phone’s storage.
    9. Hit “Go live.”

Now you’re ready for some untethered live streaming. When you’re done, hit “Finish” and then “OK” to end the stream. A VOD version of your live stream will appear on your channel after. You can access and manage that recording and others through the “My videos” page within the “Library” tab.

How to live stream on YouTube: Software encoder

Use live streaming software if you want to share your screen (e.g., to broadcast gameplay), access extra features like live titling and overlays, or use multiple cameras. Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), XSplit, and Wirecast are just a few of your options.

Any streaming software should automatically detect USB-based cameras connected to your computer. You can also bring non-USB video signals like HDMI into your computer through a USB capture card. Connect the capture card to your computer and the camera to the capture card and your streaming software should recognize the camera as a USB video class (UVC) device.

While the exact process of live streaming on YouTube with a software encoder will depend on the streaming software you’re using, it should look something like this:

    1. Download and install your preferred streaming software.
    2. On YouTube, click the “Create a video or post” button in the top-right corner of the screen.
    3. Select “Go live.”
    4. In the YouTube Live Control Room, click on “Stream” in the top navigation bar.
    5. Title your stream, choose a privacy setting, add a description, select an appropriate category, and upload a thumbnail.
    6. Decide whether you’d like to stream now or schedule an event for later.
    7. Hit “Create stream.”
    8. Copy the “Stream name/key” from the window that pops up. (Keep this string of characters private.) If the window doesn’t appear, or if you accidentally close it, look for this information in the bottom-left corner of the Live Control Room.
    9. Open your streaming software and paste the “Stream name/key” and, if required, the “Stream URL” from YouTube in the appropriate fields. You’ll probably find these within a settings or preferences menu; refer to the software’s user documentation if you’re not sure where to look.

    1. If you’re ready to go live now, start the stream via your streaming software.
    2. If you scheduled your YouTube live stream for later, open your streaming software when the time comes and turn on streaming. Flip back to the YouTube Live Control Room; you should see a stream preview window. Press “Go live” in the top-right corner to start streaming.

End your stream through the streaming software once the show’s over. A recording will automatically upload to your channel so people can watch it on demand. View and manage all your current, scheduled, and past live streams through the “Manage” tab at the top of the YouTube Live Control Room.

How to live stream on YouTube: Hardware encoder

What is a hardware encoder?

A hardware encoder is an appliance purpose-built for video streaming, capturing, recording – or all three.

Running your YouTube live stream through a hardware encoder offers a number of advantages over web and mobile. These make hardware encoders the best avenue for businesses shooting high-stakes events like concerts or sports games and anyone who wants to elevate the look of their live streams. While live streaming on YouTube through a hardware encoder might seem complex, the advantages of using one more than make up for the time it takes to learn how.

Essentially, hardware encoders make it much easier to produce polished, multicamera live streams that are sure to impress and engage your audience. How? A lot of hardware encoders include multiple inputs for video and professional audio so you can connect and stream HDMI and SDI cameras, laptops, tablets, XLR or TRS microphones, and more. And as dedicated devices, hardware encoders often perform better than software encoders. That’s because software encoders have to share resources with your operating system and any processes working in the background.

There’s a wide range of live streaming hardware on the market, which makes it impossible to write a definitive guide to making hardware encoders work with YouTube. For that reason, we’ll walk through how to live stream on YouTube using our Pearl and Webcaster X2 encoder hardware. If you’re not using a Pearl system or a Webcaster X2, we encourage you to check the user documentation for your appliance or reach out to the manufacturer.

Pearl Mini or Pearl-2

For a more in-depth look at how to configure the Pearl Mini or Pearl-2 for optimal live streaming, check out our live stream beginner’s guide. Here’s the condensed version:

    1. On YouTube, click the “Create a video or post” button in the top-right corner of the screen.
    2. Select “Go live.”
    3. In the YouTube Live Control Room, click on “Stream” in the top navigation bar.
    4. Title your stream, choose a privacy setting, add a description, select an appropriate category, and upload a thumbnail.
    5. Decide whether you’d like to stream now or schedule an event for later.
    6. Click “Create stream.” A window listing your “Stream name/key” (keep this string of characters private) and “Stream URL” should pop up. If it doesn’t, or if you accidentally closed it, look for this information in the bottom-left corner of the Live Control Room.
    7. Log into the Pearl web UI. In the side nav, select “Streaming” under the channel you want to live stream.
    8. Copy your “Stream URL” and Stream name/key” from YouTube into the “URL” and “Stream name” fields, respectively.
    9. Click “Apply.”

    1. If you’re ready to go live now, press “Start” in the top-right corner of the Pearl web UI Streaming menu
    2. If you’ve scheduled your YouTube live stream for later, press “Start” in the top-right corner of the Pearl web UI at the set time. Flip back to the YouTube Live Control Room; you should see a stream preview window. Press “Go live” in the top-right corner to start the YouTube live stream.

You’re live on YouTube! If your live stream was unscheduled, select “Stop” on the Pearl web UI when your stream is over. If you scheduled the event, end your stream through YouTube instead.

The Live @ Epiphan hosts show you how to live stream on YouTube through a Pearl hardware encoder.

Webcaster X2

For detailed instructions on how live stream on YouTube with the Webcaster X2, See our step-by-step user guide. Here’s a condensed version:

    1. Double-click the power button on the side of the Webcaster X2 until you see the YouTube logo on the unit’s LCD display.
    2. Navigate to google.com/device in your web browser. Log into your Google account if you’re not logged in already.
    3. Enter the code that appears on the Webcaster X2 LCD display screen and hit “Next.”
    4. Allow Webcaster X2 to pair to your YouTube channel.
    5. Visit youtube.com/live_dashboard and set a title and description and select a privacy setting.
    6. Press the Webcaster X2’s power button to go live.

It’s that simple. Double-click the power button to go offline once you’re ready to stop streaming.

Live stream on YouTube like a pro

Learn more about how Epiphan Pearl Mini, Pearl-2, and Webcaster X2 hardware encoders can help you take your live streaming to the next level. Reach out to our product specialists if you have any questions at all.

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12 Comments

  1. Daria

    Very useful info! Thanks for sharing! If you want to know how to set up your microphone for streaming on Youtube & Twitch, read this article: https://www.microphonetopgear.com/how-to-set-up-microphone-for-streaming/

  2. Kevin

    You’re legend – Thanks for the instructions, easy to understand 🙂

  3. Dan

    Thanks for the great post.
    By the way, is it possible to use my existing videos on my YouTube channel for YouTube Live streaming?
    I tried OBS, but it only streams pre-recorded local video.
    I know there is a Premiere function in but that’s not what I want.
    Again, I’d like to live stream a video file in YouTube’s server.
    Thank you!

    • Michael Monette

      Hi Dan,

      YouTube doesn’t natively support sending pre-recorded videos from your channel to YouTube Live. Your best bet is to stream the video as a local file via software like OBS or a hardware encoder like Pearl Mini or Pearl-2.

  4. L. C. Carter

    Thanks for such a detailed paper explaining all the details and so much more of streaming !

  5. Peter

    Great post indeed, but all of this is useless if Youtube is not enabling the livestream possibility on a channel. I have been waiting for 3 days now, watching the screen that it will come in 24 hours. The channel is verified, I have no errors or restrictions or privacy issues whatsoever. It is my first time to setup a livestream channel and the project delays and delays. Moreover, there is nowhere an answer to this problem on the internet. Everybody says that you will get the livestream enabled after 24 hours. Well how? And what to do if it doesn’t happen? It would be helpful if you can give hints, addresses to contact in your post.

    • Michael Monette

      Hi Peter. That sounds frustrating, and it’s certainly not a problem I ran into while writing this article.

      There doesn’t seem to be any way to contact YouTube directly (and if there is, it’s very well hidden) unless you’re part of their YouTube Partner Program. Your best bet is to post about the problem over at the YouTube Help Community. Someone there may have a fix or be able to elevate your issue to the YouTube team.

  6. Cornie du Plessis

    Hi
    Thanks for this article.
    I managed to successfully streamed a couple of events with YouTube.
    However, I am not able to start a new stream with the GO LIVE button, which is not there anymore. When I want to create a new stream, my previous detail comes up without the SCHEDULE FOR LATER option and when I start the streaming on OBS, I automatically goes lve, which I don’t want.
    How can I fix this, because I want the GoLive control in YouTube to first see if the video I send is correct.

    • Michael Monette

      Sorry to hear about your streaming troubles. In our experience, the Go Live button won’t be visible when YouTube Studio isn’t receiving an encoder stream. Check your stream health to confirm there’s data coming from your encoder (OBS). If there is a signal, the issue is likely something on YouTube’s end.

  7. Eleni

    Thank you a lot for the information. When using web browser, is there a limitation on the number of people that can watch live?

    • Michael Monette

      Hey Eleni. There are no limits on the number of people who can watch a YouTube live stream simultaneously, whether you’re using a web browser, mobile device, streaming software, or hardware encoder.

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