Only a handful of websites can get you access to a quarter of the whole of humanity. With its over two billion users, YouTube is one of them. YouTube’s audience has an appetite, too — viewers consume over a billion hours of content every day. That’s as good a reason as any to go live on YouTube.

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What is YouTube Live?

YouTube Live is the live streaming arm of YouTube; it’s where you can watch live videos instead of previously recorded ones. Live streaming first rolled out on YouTube in 2011 to select partners and today, it’s available for free to all verified YouTube channels. Unlike Twitch and gaming, YouTube doesn’t specialize in a particular niche. You can find live broadcasts about any number of topics and in a variety of formats, including live concerts, webinars, live vlogs, cooking classes, comedy sketches, interviews, news coverage and more.

What are the benefits of live streaming on  YouTube?

Why bother going live on YouTube? With minimal effort, broadcasting your content on YouTube can result in a huge payoff.

Here are the six biggest benefits to streaming live video content on YouTube:

1. Increased audience engagement

Live streams are typically paired with chat options. This allows viewers to engage with one another, but also gives the content creator a unique opportunity to interact with the audience for a highly personal experience.

2. Content for your display ads

If you’re using the Google Display Network for advertising, you can show your live stream in display ads. Besides freeing you from having to create banner images, this feature also helps you promote your live stream.

3. A boosting effect on channel subscriptions

YouTube has found that channels featuring a weekly live stream get up to 40% more subscribers, and viewers spend up to 70% more time watching the content.

4. Reusable content

YouTube is a video storage platform that offers live streaming capabilities. Once your stream is done, it becomes available on-demand, and you can repurpose it for anything you want — from commercials to blooper or highlight reels.

5. Attention-grabbing capabilities

On average, people watch live video 10 to 20 times longer than on-demand video. The longer they stay, the more time you have to engage your viewers.

6. The ability to dazzle with high-quality video

Out of all freely available platforms, YouTube offers the best live streaming video quality with 4K @ 60fps live streaming. If you’ve got the best gear, YouTube’s the place to show it in action.

How to go live on YouTube in four steps

1. Create a YouTube channel

You can’t live stream on YouTube if you don’t have a channel. And you can’t create a YouTube channel if you don’t have a YouTube (or Google) account.

  1. Create a Google account. If you don’t have one already or want to make a new one for your YouTube channel, go here and follow the instructions.
  2. Sign in to your YouTube account with the same credentials you use for your Google account.
  3. Once you’re signed in to YouTube, click on your avatar in the upper-right corner and choose the My channel option to create a new channel.
  4. If you have more than one YouTube channel you can switch between them here. You can create an account for your brand, or simply pick a Brand Account if you’ve been added to one as a manager.

2. Enable live streaming on YouTube

Now that you have a channel, you can start uploading videos. But it takes a few more steps to enable live streaming on your channel.

  1. Sign in to your YouTube account and click the Create symbol at the top.
  2. Click Go Live.
  3. Verify your channel and wait up to 24 hours for live streaming to be enabled.

3. Choose how you want to stream on YouTube

You can broadcast live videos on YouTube in three ways:

  1. Mobile: Mobile streams are great for “on-the-go” vlogs and updates and provide a more laid-back atmosphere. Note that you need at least 1,000 subscribers to your channel to go live from YouTube’s mobile app.
  2. Encoder: Using an encoder (also known as streaming software) gives you more control over your live stream. The setup is a little more involved than mobile or webcam streaming, but once you get the hang of it you can produce higher-quality streams. You should stream with this option if you want to share your screen or use multiple cameras.
  3. Webcam: YouTube has a live streaming studio that you can launch from your web browser, and which connects to your computer’s webcam. It’s a quick and easy way to start streaming, although you have less control over the quality of your stream than if you use an encoder.

Live stream on YouTube from the mobile app

To go live on YouTube from the mobile app, follow these steps:

  1. Open the YouTube app and select the Camcorder icon.
  2. Select Go Live.
  3. Add a title and privacy setting to your stream.
  4. Select More Options if you want to add a description.
  5. Select Show More to adjust settings for live chat, age restrictions, monetization and promotions. Select Show Less to exit.
  6. Select Next to add a thumbnail. You can either take a picture or upload an image.
  7. Select Share to get a link to post on social media.
  8. Select Go Live.

Live stream on YouTube with an encoder

To go live on YouTube using an encoder (also known as streaming software), follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your YouTube account on a web browser.
  2. Click the Camcorder icon in the top-right corner and then select Go Live from the drop-down menu.
  3. You’ll see two options: start a stream now or schedule for later. Click Start under the Right Now option to start streaming right away.
  4. Two new options will appear: Built-in webcam and Streaming software. Click Go next to the Streaming software option.
  5. The stream dashboard will open, where you can see all the information about your stream including the stream key.
  6. Open your encoding software and go to your settings.
  7. If you see an option to stream to YouTube, select that option. If you do not see a YouTube option, you’ll have to return to YouTube and copy your stream key, then paste it into your encoding software.
  8. Finish setting up your encoding software by adding your camera, microphone and other sources.
  9. Start the stream from your encoder and you’ll be live on YouTube.

Encoders come as either software or hardware. For new streamers, encoding software is recommended. A popular program for live streaming on YouTube is OBS Studio. You can read our guide for more details on how to set up OBS for streaming.

Live stream on YouTube with a webcam

To quickly start a stream on YouTube with your laptop or desktop computer and a webcam, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your YouTube account on a web browser.
  2. Click the Camcorder icon in the top-right corner and then select Go Live from the drop-down menu.
  3. You’ll see two options: start a stream now or schedule for later. Click Start under the Right Now option to start streaming right away.
  4. Two new options will appear: Built-in webcam and Streaming software. Click Go next to the Built-in webcam option.
  5. On the next screen, enter the title, description and privacy settings of your video. Designate whether the video is for kids or a general audience, and then click Next.
  6. Your webcam will automatically take a photo that will appear as the thumbnail for your live stream.
  7. Click Go Live to start streaming.
The Youtube live streams that I do with Restream help me build the community and bring added value to them.
— Jim Borgoon, leadership coach

If you want to combine the full features of an encoder with the ease of browser-based streaming, you can go live on YouTube with Restream Studio instead. You can connect your YouTube channel for free and start streaming with just your laptop and your webcam — no software download needed.

Restream Studio is packed with features to help you showcase a high-quality YouTube live stream, including:

  • Over 30 streaming platforms available for multistreaming (so you can go live simultaneously on other platforms, like Facebook, Twitch and LinkedIn)
  • Live chatting with the audience
  • Adding custom logos and graphics to your stream
  • Playing pre-recorded videos on your stream
  • Insights and analytics about each stream

4. Test everything

Before going live, make sure everything works, especially the following:

  • Upload speed. You should be aware of the streaming upload speed you’ll be using well before this step. However, you should also test whether anything is  sapping the speed before you stream, such as peer-to-peer connections or too many devices on the network.
  • Gear connectivity issues. Test your stream in private mode and troubleshoot any issues with how your camera, mic or other gear is connected to your setup.
  • The script (or any other guidelines for the stream). Make sure all stakeholders agree on the script of the live stream, especially if you’re streaming with another brand.

There’s very little room for mistakes once you’re live. But if you stick with these steps, you’ll be ready to broadcast to YouTube successfully.

Stream your YouTube live stream to other platforms with Restream

Restream is a live streaming solution that has everything you need for creating professional broadcasts on multiple platforms at the same time. It allows you to live stream directly from your browser, without any third-party apps.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Create your Restream account and log in.
  2. Select the streaming channels you would like to add. In this case, it’s YouTube.
  3. Connect Restream to your YouTube account.
  4. Open Restream Studio from your Restream dashboard and customize your stream with graphics, layout and other settings.
  5. When you’re ready to start broadcasting, hit the Go Live button.
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Check out the video guide below that explains how to live stream to both YouTube and Facebook with the help of Restream Studio:

More tips for YouTube live streaming

Looking for more ways to make your live YouTube broadcast great? Here are some tips that will help you hit the ground running with your broadcast:

  • Choose the best content for your channel. Popular types of live videos on YouTube include how-to streams and product demonstrations, product launches, flash sales, interviews, Q&As, AMAs and live events. Remember that the more elaborate your live video is, the more you’ll have to invest in gear.
  • Get the right live streaming equipment. Your live videos need decent production quality if you want to attract viewers. Get a good camera and a tripod or stand for it. Also, consider investing in an external microphone, capture card and encoder.
  • Don’t ignore the audience. YouTube Live lets you communicate with your audience directly. This is the reason live streaming is an engaging type of content.
  • Mind the battery levels. Plug in your gear if it’s possible and convenient. For the gear you can’t plug in, make sure to fully charge the batteries before going live. Have spares on hand.
  • Monitor the live stream. It’s great if you’re able to see what your audience is seeing. Get someone to join the stream and feed you important information about the quality.
  • Get a chat moderator. Have a second person handle the chat while you’re in front of the camera, especially if you anticipate having a lot of viewers during your broadcast.
  • Get some media training. The person who’ll appear the most in your YouTube broadcast should have at least some training in front of the camera. It’ll help them appear more relaxed and natural.
  • Promote your live stream. Get the link for your upcoming live stream and post it on other social media channels to get some hype for it. Restream lets you create an event for your live stream and share it across platforms.
  • Go live when your audience is online. It would be great if it’s also a good time for you. But put the audience first in case of conflicting schedules; otherwise, your YouTube broadcast won’t have many viewers.
  • Never, ever forget to inspect your audio quality. Audio quality influences the quality of your content to a ridiculous degree. Don’t lose viewers to bad audio — get a good mic and learn how to use it.
  • Multistream. Don’t limit yourself to one platform. YouTube is awesome, but if you have a following on other networks too, it might be better to multistream to different platforms that are convenient to your followers than to try to haul the audience over to YouTube.
  • Track your YouTube streaming performance. After your YouTube broadcast ends, take a look at the metrics to check out peak viewers, stream time, and other important numbers to help you do better on your next stream.
If you want to live stream on YouTube but haven’t started your channel yet, you can also check out our full guide to starting a YouTube channel.


YouTube is one of the best platforms you can choose for live streaming. With the tips in this guide, you can create an engaging and high-quality broadcast that shows off your brand, attracts your audience or simply connects you to like-minded people. If you use Restream, you can set up your YouTube live stream and start broadcasting in minutes, without needing technical know-how. And you can multistream with Restream, pushing your broadcast to other platforms and amplifying your message.