TikTok Live is quickly becoming the best place on the internet to be discovered and become a full-time content creator. For that reason, anyone wanting to start livestreaming in 2023 should consider TikTok Live. For individual creators and small businesses alike, the fastest way to stand out from the crowd on TikTok Live is by creating a high production quality with good audience engagement. Of course, it always helps to have a great creative concept or topic of expertise that you can focus your content around, but the reality is that great concepts for live content are everywhere on TikTok.
The challenge for most TikTok Live creators is that they stream from their phones without access to streaming tools of any kind, meaning that their content comes out looking raw and they are extremely limited in what they can do while live. By contrast, the few creators that are currently using streaming tools are able to do way more with their livestreams, and as a result, are cruising past their competition. The tricky part is that to take advantage of streaming tools on TikTok, creators need access to a TikTok stream key, and most creators haven't figured out how to get one.
What is a stream key, and what does it do?
So what exactly is a stream key and why do you need one? A stream key is a code used to identify an audio/video streaming source, like Youtube, Twitch, or TikTok, which allows you to connect to streaming software like OBS or streaming studios such as Opus. For TikTok specifically, a stream key lets you stream from your PC using TikTok Live Studio or even to be able to simulcast (multistream) to several platforms at once using Opus or another streaming tool.
With access to a TikTok stream key that is connected to Opus, you can instantly transform your livestream into a professional-quality production regardless of your current production skill level. You'll be able to do things like highlight individual comments on the screen, completely customize the design and content of your stream with banners, overlays, logos, personalized layouts, and stickers, share your screen, and even make it rain emojis.
If you've already got your TikTok stream key and would like to try out Opus, you can sign up here. Otherwise, keep reading to get all the details on how to obtain your TikTok stream key and begin going live like a pro.
Requirements to obtain a TikTok stream key
While some platforms like Youtube and Twitch provide you with a stream key from the get-go, others, like TikTok, require you to put in some extra work to get access to one of their coveted stream keys. The reason TikTok is careful about handing out stream keys to everyone is that they know exactly how much more you can do while live once you have access to livestream tools like Opus, so they want to make sure your content is in line with their community guidelines and that you are serious about streaming on TikTok before handing you all that power.
As a result, TikTok has some basic requirements that they expect from creators before they are willing to hand over the key to the kingdom, pun fully intended:
- You need to be 18 years old, so tough luck to all of the 14-year-old fortnight prodigies reading this right now.
- You need to be in good standing on TikTok and have not broken any community guidelines. If you have been flagged, reported, or even received a strike in the past, it may still be possible for you to receive a stream key later, but there's no guarantee, so make sure you know the rules and keep your content clean.
- You'll need to have earned at least 1000 followers on TikTok. This is a hard rule for all users that want to access the TikTok Live feature. For those of you who are just getting started and haven't earned your first one thousand followers yet, don't be discouraged, just keep posting regular TikTok content and you’ll get there in no time!
- As of right now, you must be located in the US to receive a stream key. However, if you don't qualify due to your location, there is one trick you can try that can at least allow you to livestream on TikTok from your PC. If you have 1k followers, you can use a VPN to set your IP address to the UK and then go to: https://tiktok.com/studio/download, and you should be able to download TikTok’s streaming studio for windows, which will allow you to stream TikTok on your PC. We don’t recommend taking this route unless you are desperate to stream on PC, as TikTok generally won’t appreciate you using a VPN to skirt their rules.
Once you’ve hit your 1k follower milestone and can start going live, it's much easier to get your stream key if TikTok sees that you've already been going live frequently. The community has observed that accounts that go live frequently from their phones on TikTok tend to have an easier time getting a stream key from the platform once they meet all the requirements.
Going live on your phone without any streaming tools can be a challenge, but it's also an opportunity for you to explore different creative concepts, develop your live show and improve your content's quality. That way, when you do eventually get access to a stream key you'll already have the skills you need to explode in popularity.
We highly recommend that you start going live on TikTok at least a few times a week for a while before you apply for the stream key. This shows TikTok that you are serious about being a live content creator on their platform and that you will make full use of receiving stream key access. If you aren't sure if you've been going live enough or not, feel free to reach out to us at Opus, and we can review your channel to determine if we think you're ready to apply for a stream key or not.
How to get a TikTok stream key: The 2 main ways in 2023
Not too long ago, the perception amongst the community was that getting access to a TikTok stream key was more of a game of who-you-know rather than fulfilling specific requirements and then submitting a formal request. There was also the infamous Streamlabs google form claiming that everyone who filled in their info would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for access by TikTok. The current state of the form alone (it no longer exists) says everything you need to know about how that process worked out for creators. It's no surprise, therefore, that at the time a lot of creators weren't exactly thrilled about the lack of clarity on how they could get their hands on a stream key for their channels.
TikTok has now improved the process to make it more transparent and fair. Since Opus is largely made up of former TikTokers, we recently reached out to TikTok about getting access to stream keys on behalf of some of the creators in our community. When we met, they made it clear that they were no longer accepting requests for stream keys directly. However, they did give us all the info on how we could help creators get their hands on a stream key. There are now only 2 routes you can take to earn your stream key in 2023.
Path 1: The hard way
While TikTok may no longer accept direct appeals from creators seeking a stream key, they still do hand out stream keys to their favorite creators. Although it appears to be somewhat rare, dedicated TikTok Live creators who are showing strong viewership numbers and fulfilling all the pre-existing requirements sometimes log in to discover a stream key option magically appear. Getting "discovered" by TikTok appears to be a combination of time, hard work, and luck, but you can find examples of creators who have received their key through grinding like this creator with nearly 47k followers.
There doesn't appear to be a specific follower threshold or any other specific numbers a streamer needs to achieve in order to win the TikTok Live lottery. However, there are a couple of clear commonalities that we have noticed among streamers that have magically received a stream key. First, they are all very active on TikTok, producing new content daily and going live at least 4-5 times per week. Also, they all consistently earn live viewership numbers far above what you'd expect based on their follower size.
The ability to garner a large live audience through nothing but organic discovery on users' "For You" live page is exactly what TikTok wants. TikTok knows that its discoverability is its single biggest draw for up-and-coming creators over established livestreaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch. In summary, if you can go live on your phone and make content entertaining enough that you consistently punch above your follower weight class, TikTok will most likely eventually take notice. To summarize, this is why we recommend you stream as much as you can on TikTok if you want to receive a stream key, because there is always a chance that TikTok will notice you and respect your hustle.
Path 2: Work with a TikTok-partnered agency, like CarterPulse.
Carter Pulse is an Esports Management agency led by a duo of entertainment lawyers who have partnered with TikTok to establish the first proper application process that is officially backed by the platform. Carter pulse originally landed the agreement because TikTok is hungry to find a way to break into the livestream gaming market, but not long after announcing the program they discovered just how large the demand for stream keys was across the entire platform.
As a result, submitting a stream key application to Carter Pulse can often take a while, but eventually, you should expect feedback letting you know whether you ended up qualifying or not. If you are a streamer who has been waiting for a long time and wants to check on their application status with Carter Pulse, please reach out to us, and Opus may be able to help. We should warn you that applying with Carter Pulse and fulfilling the basic requirements does not automatically qualify you for a stream key, but following the advice in this article will give you the best chance of receiving a key.
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Maintaining your TikTok stream key
Once you've completed the application process with Carter Pulse and have received your stream key, you will need to make sure that you are active enough on TikTok live to keep your stream key access. Carter Pulse tells streamers that they need to stream at or near 15 days and a total of 40 hours per month in order to hold onto their stream key. Streamers that consistently fall short of those expectations over a several-month period eventually will get their stream key access revoked. So make sure you are ready to handle that level of commitment before you apply for your stream key, because arguing for a second chance after you've lost your key is most likely going to fall on deaf ears.
Final trick for those desperate to livestream with TikTok on PC
For those of you who don't qualify for TikTok live but are still desperate to be able to stream on PC, most likely because you aren't based in the US, then it may be possible to at least download and use the TikTok Live Studio for those who are based in the UK... Including those who trick Tiktok's studio landing page into thinking that they are based in the UK. You'll still need to fulfill all of TikTok's other basic requirements, such as being over 18, having at least 1k followers, and being in good standing with the platform. It's not a perfect workaround and doesn't appear to succeed for everyone, but if you can't get access to a stream key and are desperate to be able to stream on a computer, this is probably your best bet.
Streaming from your PC once you have a stream key
Once you have your TikTok Stream key, it's time to go live on your computer with the help of a streaming studio. The easiest way to go live on TikTok on your PC is by downloading the TikTok Live Studio, which gives you access to a few more basic features than you'll get on mobile.
Alternatively, if you want to grab your stream key and plug it into the streaming tool of your choice, you can go to the TikTok home page on your web browser, click go live, set up your studio by giving it a name, and you'll find your stream key just above your offline stream. From there you just need to plug the RTMP link and stream key into their respective spots on your streaming studio, take a few minutes to design your studio and prepare your content, and you're ready to hit go live!
For those who are interested in getting access to a stream key as well as those who want to ensure their new stream key has the maximum possible impact on their channel and audience, Opus is here to help walk creators through the stream key application process. There is simply no better place right now for new, ambitious creators to go live than on TikTok, so if becoming a live content creator is your dream, we strongly recommend you come up with a concept, pick up your phone, and start going live on your TikTok today.
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About the Author
Conor Eliot has been working with creators since 2015. Fluent in Mandarin, he helped globalize the creator economy by connecting major Asian and Western brands with content creators in foreign markets. Recently, Conor spent two years leading Asia operations for TSM Esports, where he worked with some of Twitch's biggest creators. Seeing that non-gaming live creators were being massively underserved, Conor joined Opus, where he works with creators to push the boundaries on what is possible to do with the livestreaming medium.