How to start a Hangout On Air with Studio Mode
Newbie to Hangouts?
If you’ve never done a Google+ Hangout before, I’d advise you to get a few under your belt before you attempt to do your own Hangout On Air. It’s important to get a feel for the interface, the apps, and the settings before you do a live event. Start a Hangout (or join one), invite some people and have fun!
A note on Copyright
I know cover songs are a lot of fun, but you’ll have to save them for the regular Hangouts. You can’t do cover songs On Air. It’s a violation of copyright and can end up costing you your Hangout On Air privileges. You’re likely to get your stream yanked off air mid-performance.
Doing a Hangout On Air from a music venue that pays ASCAP/BMI fees doesn’t help, either. With an HOA, you’re dealing with broadcast and publishing rights so those fees paid to the performance royalties companies don’t cover it.
How to start a Hangout On Air
Update: This procedure has changed as of Jan 2014 (Google+ layout changes)
The procedure for starting a Hangout On Air has changed recently, and includes the ability to schedule a HOA. Here’s how you do it.
Hover over the button in the upper left corner. The example shows the Home button, but depending on which page you’re on in Google+ (Profile, Notifications etc.) the button will change to reflect that.
As you can see, the compact view looks a little different. Just hover over that little button and it’ll bring up the sidebar menu.
Click on “Hangouts” which will bring you to…you guessed it, the Hangouts page.
The Hangouts Page
Now that you’re at the Hangouts page, click the Start a Hangout On Air button.
Here are your next steps:
- Name your Hangout On Air
- Decide which Circles or individuals to share the event post with
- Enter a description for the auto-generated event page
- Click the “Share” button
Hangout On Air Event Page
You’ve just shared a post on Google+ notifying your followers of the event. Now you’ll be presented with an event page which looks much like the image above, where you can add an event video trailer, add an event page header image, change the description text, and share the event with more people. You’ve also got links to the Youtube video page and an embed code (Links button).
The Hangout window
The Hangout On Air has not yet begun! Click Start on the event page to bring up the Hangout window. You’ll be prompted to invite people, which is optional. Remember, you’re not broadcasting yet so take as much time as you need to get everything set up properly before you begin.
To share links to your live broadcasts with users on other social networks, or to embed the HOA on your website, click the Links button in the lower right hand corner of the Hangouts window. You may have noticed that this same button is also present on the HOA Event Page.
In addition to the apps bar on the left, there is another important area on the Hangouts window, which is the Start Broadcast button at the bottom. But don’t click this just yet! You still have to turn on Studio Mode (see next section). Next to the button are the audio level meter and the On Air indicator light.
When you are the one starting the Hangout, keep in mind that:
- The Hangout isn’t broadcast on Youtube until you hit “Start Broadcast”
- The Youtube video of the HOA will be shared by your profile when you go live.
- Only Hangouts on Air can use Studio Mode
- You can use a Hangout on Air indefinitely, without broadcasting, to use Studio Mode
- You can’t do a public invite with a Hangout On Air, even if you don’t broadcast it.
- Only the person who started the Hangout can invite people (though others can manually share the URL)
- If the host of the Hangout loses their connection suddenly, the Hangout on Air will be temporarily suspended and eventually terminated if they don’t rejoin the Hangout.
How to turn on Studio Mode
The first thing to do here is go into the settings dialog, to confirm your audio and video settings, as well as turn on Studio Mode. Click on the gear icon in the HOA top bar:
The Settings window contains all of your options for which webcam you want to use, your audio source and your audio output. This is also where you select which mode you are in, Voice Mode or Studio Mode. There is also an option to swap the left and right audio channels but you probably wont need to use this.
Once you have Studio Mode turned on, leave it on. There are some who will tell you it’s best to switch back and forth between songs if you’ll be speaking as well as performing music, but trust me on this: You will forget to switch it back. You can’t hear what you sound like in the Hangout and there are no visual cues to tell you which mode you’re in. People will occassionally neglect to tell you you’re in Voice Mode, so don’t take any chances. Don’t switch Studio Mode off until you’re done performing all of your songs.
Understanding Studio Mode
Studio Mode utilizes a high quality stereo streaming codec and as such requires 2-channel input.
Another consideration with Studio Mode is that it does not have noise reduction, so you need a quiet environment.
Studio Mode has a frequency range which extends up to 15khz. This is about the same frequency range as FM radio. For a detailed analysis on bandwidth, noise etc. of the Studio Mode codec click here.
Studio Mode is not “CD Quality” or “MP3 Quality” or even “FM Radio Quality.” It is a different beast altogether. As such it has it’s own unique characteristics and limitations. Now, analog distortion that you might hear when analog tape is pushed too hard is different than what happens when your levels are too hot with the Studio Mode codec. That results in harsh, garbled digital distotion. It is extremely important that you leave yourself a bit of headroom when setting your levels. More on this in the Mixdown section.
Studio Mode can require more of a live sound setup but should not be mixed as though the sound is going to a P.A. system. Some of your existing computer recording equipment may not work well for Hangouts on Air without a bit of adaptation and creative routing, but it can be done! You need a way of producing a final stereo mix (as though you’re mixing for a CD) to feed into the Hangout, because a multitrack input where instruments are on individual channels won’t work on its own.
Next: Suggested Equipment