How to DJ on Instagram Live
The best Instagram setup for DJs
Live streaming services like Instagram Live have paved the way for DJs to find new listeners. Giving you the chance to gain more followers and get your sets heard by a global audience.
DJs are discovering more and more ways to get their music out there, and the pandemic has made these methods more popular than ever! If you’re not live streaming right now, you’re missing out.
Chances are you’ve heard about other DJs live streaming sets, or even been involved in one, and want to make a start yourself. This article will tell you exactly how to get your show up and running on Instagram Live, from start to finish.
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
- Benefits of DJ’ing on Instagram Live
- What DJ equipment is best for Instagram Live?
- Best Software for Instagram Live DJ’ing
- Streaming With Just a Smartphone
- Copyright Issues When Instagram Live Streaming
- Style advice for Instagram Live streaming
- Taking Your Instagram Live show to the Next Level
- Time to get Instagram Live Streaming!
The number of DJ’s using the Instagram live feature has increased ten-fold in the last year or two, and for good reason.
Interacting with fans, connecting with others in the industry, demonstrating your skills and promoting your work are just some of the many opportunities it offers.
Easy to Get Started
DJing on Instagram live is pretty straightforward, and this is partly why it has become so popular. Of course, there are different levels of professionalism you can reach using the platform, but even with some of the most basic equipment, you can start streaming your sets and pumping out your tunes.
A laptop and/or a smartphone are the most important pieces of equipment to get up and running, and a necessity for any budding live streamer.
These are required to get your video and audio onto your Instagram page. A computer that’s capable of merging the live feed from your camera with the audio from your DJ equipment is your best bet.
It is possible to merge this audio with the camera in just your smartphone, but obviously, the results won’t be as good, and if you want to look and sound professional, it’s not recommended. If you’re just starting out, and still testing the waters, it could still be a sensible option.
Huge and Continuously Growing Audience
With roughly one billion active monthly users, Instagram is one of the most popular social networking platforms in the world. This means there is the potential to access a huge audience from all corners of the globe right at your fingertips.
There are lots of other ways to stream over the internet, but the massive audience that can be reached through Instagram coupled with its ease of use is what makes it so popular.
If you regularly update your profile with new content, interact with your followers, and stay consistent, you have the opportunity to reach a bigger and more diverse audience than would ever be possible without this technology.
Less Strict Copyright Issues Than Other Platforms
While all the major social media platforms have software to prevent copyright infringements, some have stricter measures than others.
Instagram uses the pop-up push notifications feature to let you know if you’re using music in a way that violates their policy.
This means you get a little bit of a pre-warning, and there’s time to take some quick action to prevent your live stream from being shut down. This extra time to adjust makes a big difference, as an immediate shutdown could ruin the flow of your performance and cause fans to leave the stream. If it is shut down, Instagram provides you with some clear guidance on how to resolve the issue and get your stream back up and running.
This article will go into more depth on the whole copyright situation later, but the general rule of thumb is to use shorter snippets of songs.
Users Notified When You Go Live
When you go live on Instagram, your followers receive a notification telling them you’ve done so. This gives them an immediate incentive to join your live stream and see what you’re up to.
Another useful feature is that if you go live with someone else, such as another DJ or a fan, all of their followers will also receive a notification to join the live stream, boosting your chances of growing your following even further with little added effort.
Live video has been shown to draw greater engagement than feed uploaded video, but you can always enjoy the benefits of both by uploading your live streams to your feed afterward, so those who missed out on it can still be involved.
Having the right tools for the job is a must in any industry, and this is no different if you’re a DJ wanting to try your hand at live streams.
The equipment you have plays an important part in producing some high-quality content for your fans. The better and more professional-looking your content is, the faster word will get out that you are a DJ worth checking out. This means more interest and engagement for your account.
Some things are needed as the bare minimum and are required to even get an Instagram live stream up and running, while other more advanced pieces of equipment are recommended for those who really want to enhance their performances and take things to the next level.
If you only have the most basic equipment, don’t worry. This means you’re in a great position to try out streaming and get a real feel for it before splashing out and investing in the more serious technology if and when you’re ready to step up your game.
First and foremost, a DJ needs DJ gear! There are a range of options available here, from the typical DJ controller or digital DJ decks, to the old-school methods such as CD and Vinyl setups.
You may already have a DJ setup ready to go but the most important thing here is how you get the audio out from your DJ mixer to Instagram live. We’ll touch more on the software side of things later but for now its important to know that you’ll need an easy method of getting a master audio out in stereo.
Its also very important to think about how you DJ setup looks on camera, since this is a video live stream people will want to see your DJ setup. So he’re a few pointers worth considering.
- How does your DJ setup match up to other DJs live streaming?
- Is all of your DJ gear visible on camera?
- What camera angles will work best for your DJ gear?
- How will your DJ-ing style come across (If you’re a scratch mixer then a close up of a turnable is recommended)
Decor and Lighting for your DJ livestream
Something to bear in mind though is that when you are live streaming on Instagram or any other platform for that matter, you need to take into account the added visual element.
Your followers won’t just be listening to your music, but also watching your performance up close on a screen. It’s a well known fact that humans have a short attention span when it comes to social media content, and users want their quick fix of dopamine. This means you have to go that extra mile to keep them hooked.
Making sure the visual aspect of your performance is as appealing as the actual music part is a good way of doing this. Your equipment should be spotlessly clean, with a cool backdrop to go alongside it.
Some added decor such as plants, LED lights or some old vintage vinyl records will go down a treat, and help you stand out from the DJs who don’t pay much attention to the visuals of their live stream performances. Natural sunlight can help add some character as well.
The general rule is the more decorations, the more engaging it will be. Don’t go overboard though – too much and it could start to look cluttered.
Make sure you’re getting hands on with your equipment at every given opportunity, and moving at all times – you won’t keep people watching if you’re just standing still at a desk and pressing a button every now and then. If you look like you’re having fun performing, then the viewers will have fun watching.
Its important to think about how your lighting will look on camera. Here’s a video I highly recommend you watch to understand just how to light your room for best live streaming quality.
Dedicated Computer for Broadcasting
Nowadays, almost every DJ uses a computer as part of their setup in one way or another. You need software to broadcast your video and audio live to Instagram, and it needs a computer to run on.
You might think one computer is enough to broadcast all the footage and audio onto the platform, and in a sense this is a possibility. You could probably get away with relying on one computer for both, but you would definitely be risking the quality of your live stream.
Using two different computers (one for the Dj software and one for the broadcast) is a much better option, and minimises the risk of the quality of either the video or audio being hampered.
Audio Interface for Broadcast Computer
You need a way to get the audio from your DJ mixer or controller to your broadcast computer, and this is where an audio input device comes into play. This doesn’t come as standard with most computers, so you’ll have to pick one up from somewhere.
Some beginners make the mistake of relying on the built-in computer microphone to pick up the audio, but this results in poor quality, distorted sound and you won’t sound very professional.
For a pretty cheap price, you can pick up a USB sound adapter with audio input. The Beringer 302USB is a brilliant investment, acting as a great audio interface with added extras too.
These audio input devices keep the music sounding crisp and clear, really adding value to the viewing experience. Just make sure you have the right cable for your computer in order to connect the device.
Don’t forget to check the audio from the broadcast computer before you start your stream – you want to avoid sound chopping and distortion, so make sure the output from your mixer isn’t in the red.
One or More Webcams to Really Capture the Audience’s Attention
We’ve already talked about the importance of the visual aspect of when live streaming your sets on instagram, and the next point ties in well with this. When it comes to cameras and webcams for filming your performance, a smartphone is the most obvious choice. However, there are a number of great value cameras on the market that will give you much better quality footage.
GoPros are a good choice thanks to their high quality video settings and extremely wide angle lens options, meaning you can make even the smallest of rooms look much bigger and more appealing to the viewer.
Best camera angles for DJ live streams
Keeping viewers engaged with your live stream is of course the priority, and mixing up camera angles is one of the best ways to do this. It would get boring for anyone watching an hour long set with the same camera angle for the entire time.
The standard face-on camera angle is the most popular, and it lets the viewer see all your facial expressions and emotions while you perform. It’s a classic choice. Eye contact helps the viewer feel connected, helping them to forget that they are looking at a screen and begin to feel more immersed in the performance.
Other popular camera angles that you could incorporate include the birds eye view – a top down camera mounted above your decks lets the viewer see what your hands are up to and how you’re working your equipment. Everyone loves to see the DJ hitting, twisting and turning all the buttons and switches at their disposal. A zoomed in camera on the decks is great for this too, letting the viewer experience the magic up close.
Having multiple cameras isn’t a necessity for Instagram live streaming, but for the DJs looking to take their shows to the next level it’s a wise choice. The Logitech C920 supports HD footage and can cling to almost any surface, allowing for some truly unique angles. It’s the perfect step up from the smartphone camera.
This video is great for understand what camera angles work best for DJ sets and how you can set up your cameras.
Without power and data, most of the DJ equipment wouldn’t even work. A Central USB hub is great for handling all the different cameras, adapters, and other bits all in one place.
They are cheap and easy to find, and you should look for ones with multiple ports available that are labelled as either USB-3 or USB-C. These types have the highest data capacities making them the best option.
Make sure the USB hub has its own external power supply so you don’t have to rely on the computer for power – it will already be doing lots of work as it is!
In order to convert your audio and video to a live stream which can actually be uploaded in real time to Instagram, you need some special software.
There are a number of different options when it comes to this, but some are more popular than others.
I’ve compiled some information here about some of the most favoured ones at a couple of different price points.
An excellent and versatile piece of software used by lots of live streamers is OBS studio, or ‘Open Broadcaster Software’. Its main selling point is that it’s completely free! Don’t let this fool you though – it’s seriously good at its job.
It’s an open source project which was built by a group of developers. It’s known for its reliability, which is why it is the go-to software for many.
The large number of features and options means it can be a bit overwhelming at times, but after a short while of getting familiar with the software you should be able to figure out what works for you.
It does lack some of the super pro-level features found in some of the paid-for software, but you have plenty to work with if you’re just starting out. Check out OBSproject.com for more.
There’s so much you can do with this software its no wonder its the industry leading app of choice. Check out how you can push OBS much further to create a very compelling DJ scene.
Wirecast is a step up from OBS Studio, and is more suited to those who are more serious about professional online live streaming.
It has 2 versions available – Wirecast Studio and Wirecast Pro. They are both pretty expensive but definitely worth it if you’re wanting to reach that next level.
A number of fantastic key features they have include the added ability to input on-the-fly graphics, capture multiple camera and video sources, and the benefit of being able to broadcast to multiple social media platforms at the same time.
The studio version has all of the above, while the pro version goes beyond, providing even more features. It is a bit excessive though if you’re just using it for DJ live streaming. It’s possible to test their software for free before you decide to take the plunge, by using a watermarked broadcast. I definitely recommend trying this out.
Here’s a great comparison between OBS Studio and Wirecast to see which is best suited to you and your I.T skills.
The problem with Instagram for budding live streamers is that you can only officially go live using the smartphone app.
Yellow Duck have developed a workaround for this, enabling you to live stream from your Mac or PC too.
You simply have to log in to your Instagram account with Yellow Duck, get the Instagram stream key and RTMP URL, then quickly copy this into the encoder or streaming service. Job done! Best of all is that it’s free too.
Be aware though, Yellow Duck is a third party software with no affiliates to Instagram, so you will be using it at your own risk. Head to yellowduck.tv to download the software.
Instagram live is built for smartphone streaming, which may leave you wondering, why not just use your smartphone for broadcasting your sets?
Well, there are a few reasons for this. One is that your phone only has the one camera, meaning you won’t be able to get the more engaging multi-angle footage using just your phone. It is also more likely you will only demonstrate one camera angle if you just use your smartphone, which is pretty boring for the viewer.
Another reason is that you still need more equipment anyway even if you decide to use your smartphone, as you need to get the audio into your phone.
Using just a smartphone means you will also lack the professional features needed to really stand out from the crowd.
All that being said, streaming using just a smartphone could be great for those just starting out, or those who aren’t particularly bothered about having a professional setup. Many of you won’t have lots of the equipment immediately on hand but want to get started with broadcasting, and the smartphone offers an easy entry route.
There are even full time DJ’s such as Jamz Supernova who stream to instagram with just the basic equipment – she uses an Iphone 8 Plus, with a tripod.
I highly recommend checking out this video all about using OBS and Yellow Duck to get the best quality out of your DJ live streams.
Getting DJ Mixer Audio to Smartphone
Instagram simply takes the stereo input made available by the operating system of your computer.
To make use of that stereo input, you need an audio output adapter, which plugs into the port on your phone.
The Rode SC6-C Dual TRRS is a great piece of kit, allowing audio in and out for iPhone devices. It lets you plug in directly from your mixer, and will pick the audio up for Instagram live.
Plug your headphones into the adapter to check the sound is clear and crisp. Don’t forget to keep checking on your mixer throughout your set to ensure the signals you are sending off aren’t too powerful, and that the audio on the mixer isn’t in red.
Equipment to improve Instagram Live Streams
Another great investment if you’re going to live stream with a smartphone is a tripod. This allows you to get the optimum angle of your performance, allowing you to really make the most of your one camera setup.
It gets boring for the audience watching from one perspective for the entire set, so make sure the angle you choose incorporates you, your hands, and as much of the backdrop as possible.
This one-camera setup isn’t the most professional look, and the audience would much prefer to have multiple cameras set up, but if you are just wanting to keep it simple for the time being then you can make it work.
There’s also nothing to stop you having a friend oversee the performance and move the camera around every so often to provide a different viewing angle for the broadcast.
Check out the latest cameras that are great for Instagram Live Streaming your DJ sets.
Nowadays, you can’t just play any music online and get away with it. Platforms like Instagram have rigorous music ID detection systems in place to prevent any copyright infringements.
Despite this, Instagram is still a great platform for online DJ live streams, thanks to the number of steps it takes in warning you before muting or shutting down your stream. Any disruption to your stream could really damage your engagement and image, and so the fact you get warned before any action is taken is really helpful
A notification pops up in live broadcasts which lets you know if you are using any unlicensed art in a way that violates Instagrams policy. This means you have time to remove the audio before your broadcast is disrupted.
If your stream IS blocked or muted, you will receive advice on how to resolve the issue quickly and efficiently.
The guys at Crossfader made a great video on this very subject with some handy advice. This video is a MUST WATCH if you’re thinking about live streaming your DJ sets on Instagram.
General advice to avoid any copyright issue in the first place is to use shorter snippets of music, use music from less mainstream sources like digitaldjpool.com, and incorporate a visual component to avoid making the broadcasting of music the sole focus.
DJing to an online audience is not quite like performing in person, such as in a nightclub or at a garden party.
When it comes to online DJing your audience are watching you on a screen, typically through their smartphone. This means they can scrutinise your every move, and if they get bored at any point you can easily lose their attention.
It’s easy for viewers to just click off your stream and find their dopamine fix elsewhere, so keeping them entertained and hooked on your performance is more important than ever.
It becomes a little bit less about the music, and more about including a strong visual component – how you play. Move around and look like you’re having a good time, because no one is going to stick around to watch a DJ who just stands still in one place for the whole set.
If you’re looking for decor styling ideas I love this great video that gives you a guided tour of a YouTuber who has all sorts going on in his backgrounds. Never underestimate the power of dressing your scene well. People will notice every detail of your video live stream.
Engagement between users is what drives growth on Instagram, so you need people to be interacting with your content as much as possible – liking, commenting and sharing.
The music you play is still important though, and if you already have a particular genre of music you tend to focus on, stick with that. If you’re known as a tech-house DJ and you start playing only 90’s RnB on your livestream, the viewers won’t stay around as that’s not what they followed you for.
If you haven’t yet found your niche, experiment with what you enjoy playing and see what works best for you.
Style of Play
A faster style of play works better for Instagram live, so more cut-and-switch mixing is a good shout. Lots of activity and excitement will keep the audience wanting more, and if you’re enjoying yourself then it’s more likely that they will be too.
Play to the camera as though you would if you were playing to a massive and energetic live audience.
Instagram live lets users comment in real time on your live stream, so getting a microphone to interact with the comment section would undoubtedly go down a treat, allowing the audience to feel like a real part of the show.
As your popularity grows, look for new and inventive ways to keep fans coming back for more. A Back-to-Back session with another DJ could have excellent benefits for the growth of both of your accounts.
When you’re ready to upgrade your show and really achieve the professional look, there are a number of useful steps you can take.
Getting bespoke graphics is a great place to start. A custom graphic to promote your live stream ahead of time could significantly boost your engagement, by letting people know the exact date and time to tune in. Include your Instagram handle too so people know where to find you.
Ask friends and family to share the graphics so you can really maximise their reach.
This lets potential viewers know it’s a serious and organised event, and not just your average bedroom broadcast.
Getting someone to handle the production aspect of your broadcast lets you focus solely on the performance side of things.
It’s hard work running both, so an extra hand can really enhance the quality of your stream.
One of the ways to do this is by meeting up in person with someone who can act as a production assistant when doing your live stream. They can control the camera feeds, manage audio levels and post graphics while you focus on the set.
Some DJs like the production assistant to shout out some of the comment section meaning you don’t have to keep looking yourself, allowing you to interact with the audience without losing focus on the job at hand.
Having an assistant allows things to run much more smoothly, and you can enjoy your performance without the added stress of worrying about production. The added fluidity of the show will really shine through in your broadcast, and the audience will love it.
Instagram Live allows you to stream uninterrupted for up to 4 hours, which is a big increase on the previous 1 hour mark.
After your live broadcast ends, you can actually share a replay of it to IGTV, another feature of Instagram. Tap ‘share to IGTV’ at the bottom of the page after ending your broadcast, and follow the instructions. This replay won’t include any likes or comments from the original stream though.
It’s a good idea to test your setup before going live, by going live privately on your page beforehand so you can troubleshoot any issue that may arise in plenty of time.
Consistency is key
Keeping content consistent is key to Instagram growth, so scheduling your live streams for specific days each week is good for letting users know when they can catch you next. Your live streams don’t even have to be just DJ sets either, you could include tutorials, equipment tours and other aspects of DJing.
Encourage viewers to follow your account and interact with your content rather than just viewing. A view won’t do much for your overall growth but a comment or share can go a long way.
Hopefully this article has provided you with the information you were looking for, and you should be able to get your first Instagram Live stream well and truly underway.
Engage with your audience, keep your equipment in good shape, and enjoy yourself, and you’ll be sure to keep your audience hooked.
There’s plenty of advice on how to keep improving as a DJ throughout this site, and some useful tips and tricks for both beginners and the most advanced DJs.