How to Broadcast Live Over the Internet

by Scott Shpak

With so much user-generated content, the Internet opens the world to aspiring media broadcasters and musicians with a minimum of equipment and software. While there are commercial websites loaded with features for paying clients, there's no need to drain the bank to load cyberspace with your content. Free utilities and streaming packs allow you to build your media empire at your own pace.

Video Streaming

You can be your own television station using applications such as Ustream and Justin.tv for general programming. There are also specialty apps that may suit your target audience; for example, Justin.tv's Twitch.tv focuses on the gaming world. Depending on the service you use, you may need video encoding software. Open Broadcaster Software and Flash Media Live Encoder are two free options, while Wisecast and Xsplit provide commercial packages. Video streaming applications themselves range from free with limited options or broadcast time to a range of subscription packages.

Online Radio

Budding disk jockeys and audio podcasters have "sound only" options for their live content. As well as the software you use to create your content, you may need a broadcast utility such as the open source Broadcast Using This Tool or a plug-in such as Edcast, used with audio player Winamp. These broadcast applications format the output of your computer's audio to match the input of an audio stream server. Streams are usually rented, typically under $10 a month to reach 100 listeners, though there are advertising-based free streams. ShoutCast and IceCast are the most common stream formats.

Concerts and Video Busking

Musicians have dedicated options for sharing their music live. Street Jelly bills itself as "open mic night in your living room." With a webcam-equipped camera and microphone, you can share a performance directly using Street Jelly's Flash-based audio and video encoder. There is no cost and you can even earn money through tips. Numubu is a full social networking site based around live streams for musicians. As with Street Jelly, there is no cost, no requirements for extra encoders and you can earn tips as you go.

Live Broadcasting in Virtual Worlds

Musicians and DJs populate virtual worlds such as Second Life and InWorldz, performing in virtual clubs and earning virtual tips -- some of which can be converted to real U.S. dollars and transferred through PayPal. Both video and audio streaming are supported by entering stream data into the virtual world's settings, so your Ustream video or ShoutCast audio can, for example, supply your virtual world broadcast. Affordable audio stream rentals are available within virtual world play, using the in-game currency.

About the Author

As an operations and technical projects manager in the photofinishing industry, Scott Shpak is also an experienced audio engineer and musician, as well as Editor-in-chief, feature writer and photographer for Your Magazines Canada.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera snake3d/iStock/Getty Images