On this Friday Lives episode, host Anya Razina spoke with Jason and Ian from the comedic duo AWRebels. The guys shared their experience of live streaming a show together from two separate locations, the transition from Mixer to Facebook Partners, and their unique combo of video games, comedy, and music in live streaming.
A little bit of background
Jason and Ian got to know each other in college. They shared a passion for engineering and music, and that's how they became friends. They were always interested in creating music and other funny types of content, like gaming videos, so going live was a matter of time.
The idea of creating their YouTube channel came to Ian's mind when he was watching musicians and other content creators. The guys started with this platform, later migrating to Mixer (back in the day called Beam). Since then, Ian and Jason have created various content types, from gaming to workout live streams, on multiple platforms. They don't stick to one kind of content because their goal is just to have fun and entertain others.
Our streams are focused on entertainment. The game is just the background.
Jason did not hesitate to show all the power of their unbound creativity by joining the interview while floating in space in a t-shirt with animated hearts. Ian has spoken about his spacious setup. He has a studio in the attic with a lot of stuff in it — for example, green-screen floors, ceiling, and walls. He also has a VR setup and a mixed reality setup, multi-cameras, "tons of audio gear, and tons of the green-screen layer."
The guys also joked about the necessity of powerful computers, as they are kind of tech geeks and always try to make the most of their hardware and software.
The thing we've found with our set up is my computer has certainly, like, almost caught on fire.
Ian is always interested in new technologies and doesn't hesitate to implement them. While many people use OBS Studio to capture the screen, these guys tried to find and test as many various plugins and features as possible (like grabbing the video source and rotating it, and spinning it in from the top).
Mixer: from the very beginning until the very end
Jason and Ian started their streamer path on YouTube, but their actual "home" was Mixer. The Rebels were attracted by the interactivity of the platform, its functionality, and low latency. At that time, live streamers didn't use a lot of additional graphics or complex setups. However, Ian and Jason saw the immense potential of this technology and decided to "just go as crazy as possible."
After three years of streaming, the Rebels' channel got 19,000 subscribers on Mixer, which is a pretty huge number. But everything changed when the platform closed down in July 2020. According to Ian, it was a heart-wrenching moment. Still, at the same time, it was a valuable experience for them as creators.
When it comes to dedicating yourself to one platform, we kind of felt the vacuum of that one platform.
After the Mixer closure, all their fans got dispersed all over the various platforms. So, Ian and Jason decided to start multistreaming to reach all of them and find new viewers.
We kind of found that multistreaming did get us at least some activity on all the platforms.
They first opened several OBS Studio windows on the same computer to "simulcast." Still, it was not the most optimal decision (and a bit harmful for the computer). Ian noticed that this experiment led to daily shutdowns.
The guys looked for a better solution and swapped to Restream Studio. It helps them stream to multiple platforms — such as YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn — at the same time without the danger of melting their computers. One more great benefit for AWRebels is adding guests to live streams, which allows them to do their unique duo streams and control the actual layout, like switching between the screens. Restream Studio also has the Restream Chat feature that helps you moderate comments from all the platforms in one place. Restream Events is another great feature. It allows you to schedule your live streams and notify your audience in advance on every platform you stream to.
Benefits of multistreaming
What the Rebels find incredible about multistreaming is that you can push the content in different places at different times.
For example, they can start a stream on Facebook, pop over to Twitter, pop over to another platform, or go to a custom RTMP source and bounce between during the show.
That's been so flexible for us and allows us to not have to worry about that side of things.
Ian said every platform has its own quirks and benefits, so the guys try to take as much as possible from each of them. He thinks it shouldn't stop you; quite the opposite — it's an excellent opportunity to find new ways and approaches to streaming.
You gotta just see how the platform works, and take whatever good connections on the platform that you have, and use them as best as possible.
For example, they compared Mixer and Facebook, where the latter has bigger latency during live streams. The guys took it as an exciting challenge to figure out how to do the content work when you have 15 seconds before seeing what they just responded to you with.
However, they say that starting to multistream the same content to various platforms at the same time may not be very successful. The Rebels suggest analyzing which type of content works better on every platform you'd like to use and creating "little pockets of unique viewers." For instance, they have maintained the connection with Mixer subscribers on Twitch, but at the same time, they've found new fans on Facebook.
Why use different types of content?
Unlike most streamers, Ian and Jason don't restrict themselves to only one type of content. It seems they have tried everything — gaming, cooking videos, music shows, or even workout live streams. This approach helps a lot to prevent burnout because the guys can always switch between different types of content.
Another benefit of such versatility is that everyone can find content by their preference. That's not all — the AWRebels believe this approach inspires other people to start live streaming!
It does a really good job of encouraging people to find and express themselves in whatever way that they feel.
Lockdown effect on live streaming
Ian noticed that during the COVID-19 lockdown their channel got a lot more subscribers. The level of support skyrocketed too. He said people dropped gifts and donated more than they used to before the pandemic.
Jason believes that nowadays more people watch live streams, and also a lot more people try broadcasting themselves. The guys agree that everything digital has become more accessible. For example, Jason shared a story of his colleague's son, who would never watch live streams before, but changed his mind during a lockdown. So live streaming has become a great way to entertain or express yourself while sitting at home 24/7.
Life became a little more complex, but you know, you can find little pockets of crazy within them.
Socially distanced duo stream
In some sense, Ian and Jason were prepared for our new pandemic reality in advance. The guys told us that they always live streamed from separate locations. The only instances they streamed together were at some events like the Mixer panel.
I guess we already have social distance between the two of us.
However, they mastered a subtle art of mimicking each other's presence while live streaming. They do it so well that people actually believe they're roommates (while, in fact, there are 500 miles between them). To achieve such an illusion, they use an advanced setup and always try new tech features like virtual cameras, OBS Studio plugins, or multistreaming with Restream Studio.
How to reach a bigger audience
Jason believes that the secret sauce is to really just talk to your audience. No matter how many people watch or follow you, you should be engaged and speak with your viewers. Communication is what makes live streaming so special, so use it to the fullest. For Jason, the beautiful part of using Restream Studio is that you are not restrained by one platform or technology; therefore, you can reach more people.
If you're able to connect with people one on one, and the more you do that, the more successful that you will become.
Ian and Jason use multiple types of content to entertain people. Such variety helps prevent burnouts and engages a bigger audience, as everyone can find what they like. It also encourages people to express themselves and start creating the content they're passionate about.
Another great insight from the guys is that multistreaming is a great tool to reach more people and benefit from multiple platforms. They encourage us to look at different features and limitations as challenges and look for new approaches to each of them.
The AWRebels example may also inspire you to use your tech possibilities to their fullest. Keep learning something new and trying new tools and features to create a unique experience for your viewers.
Last but not least, Ian and Jason's advice is to talk to your audience. Communication is key for raising the engagement level and building a loyal community.
Thanks to AWRebels for sharing all their insights about live streaming!