August 4, 2020
Many artists are worthy of credit, having met the many challenges of lockdown head-on. While the last few months have been tumultuous, the restrictions on live performances have led to new and innovative ways for artists to release new music and connect with fans.
A prime example of this is live streaming performances during lockdown, primarily through Instagram Live. In June 2018, the platform boasted 1 billion users, and quickly emerged at the head of the pack for live video streaming. However, several smaller platforms are beginning to close the gap, Twitch being a prominent example.
Twitch is primarily used by gamers, giving streamers the chance to interact directly with fans and members of the gaming community. According to Michael Olson, Head of Music at Twitch, a ‘vibrant music scene thrived on Twitch’ even before lockdown. While Twitch is dominated by up-and-coming artists, several established musicians have used the service to galvanise their fanbase, including Diplo and GRIMES. Many of these musicians have seen a staggering growth in their online audience since the start of lockdown.
In this article, we will be delving into Twitch Music, and the opportunities it presents for both independent and professional musicians. As well as this, we’ll be providing tips for how artists can get the most out of Twitch.
Why should musicians stream on Twitch?
While Instagram Live appears to be the gold standard for live-streaming performances, it has its issues. For instance, most sessions last for a maximum of one hour. Due to this limited running time, users often have to leave and re-enter sessions to keep listening. As well as this, musicians are unable to connect their audio directly to Instagram. Instead, music is played through speakers in the artists’ room, often affecting the overall audio quality.
The purpose of Twitch is for creators to garner a small but loyal fanbase. In comparison, with larger platforms such as Spotify, there is always the risk of music getting lost amid the noise. In 2013, it was estimated that over 4 million songs on Spotify have never been played. Twitch stands out from the industry juggernauts because it’s not a saturated market, and it’s only going to continue to grow.
Twitch allows for interaction between artists and viewers on a smaller but much more direct level. Think of it as playing the Camden Jazz Cafe versus the O2 arena. Rather than just sitting back and watching the show, fans can enter the stream with their own cams. This encapsulates exactly what’s so great about Twitch. It’s about forming a steadfast community of fans. Most social media channels are built so users can quickly swipe and scroll through a never-ending deluge of content. With this kind of set-up, people will whizz past valuable content without giving it a second thought. Twitch, in comparison, allows users to spend extended sessions supporting creators and watching the creative process unfold.
Most importantly, Twitch makes it much easier than its counterparts for creators to monetize their online presence. Rather than sharing a portion of ad or streaming revenue with musicians, Twitch offers a virtual currency system called ‘Bits’. Bits can be used in a variety of ways, such as buying ‘Cheers’, which act as a virtual ‘tip’ for artists. When watching a streamed performance, viewers can also donate to make song requests. These donations are recognised on screen, so artists and fans alike can show appreciation for tips. This means Twitch not only encourages donations but celebrates them. This helps to address a longstanding problem with online platforms for musicians. It’s all well and good that an artist can quickly put themselves out there to a global audience, but Twitch goes that extra step further by translating that audience into something truly valuable.
How musicians can succeed on Twitch
While Twitch makes it easier for artists to profit from their fanbase, it doesn’t guarantee that the money will start instantly rolling in. There are several ways in which artists can make the platform work for them, so they will quickly experience the benefits:
Maintain a consistent schedule
As every musician will know, building a fanbase is a two-way process which takes enthusiasm and commitment. Audiences want to know when they can expect their next release. Therefore, you should plan your streaming sessions in advance. Create a schedule as to when you will be broadcasting, so your fans know when to tune in. This schedule will be available to view on your channel, so it’s important to stick to it – you don’t want to get a reputation for being inconsistent.
Successful streaming isn’t about being perfect. Instead, it’s about giving a glimpse into who you truly are as an artist. Music-lovers crave authenticity – it gives them the chance to connect with their favourite performers on a deeper level. You may have a setlist and a preconceived idea as to how your performance will go, but don’t just go through the motions. Instead, you should let loose, perhaps share an anecdote behind a particular song? You’ll find that this only enriches your performance.
Take requests and covers
One of the biggest reasons why music-lovers see their favourite artists live is because they want a one-off experience. They also want that thrill of seeing someone perform up and close. By taking fan requests and covers, you’re taking things that one step further. After all, how many musicians would take a request from a member of the audience at a live gig? This experience is something that any fan would treasure – so if you have the opportunity to do that for an avid listener – why not do it?
Become part of the community
Digital platforms are all about community, and Twitch is no exception. The relationship between a musician and their fans is rich and varied, but becoming part of an online community of listeners adds a compelling new dimension. As well as this, by using Twitch you are joining a collective of fellow artists. This can help you grow your presence in several ways – all it takes is a little reciprocity.
There are two main ways in which this can be achieved. The first way is by using ‘Raids’, which are used by streamers to directly connect audiences with another channel once they have finished broadcasting. So consider turning your listeners on to other musicians, and they will likely pay you back in kind. As well as this, you can set up an auto-hosting list on your channel. This broadcasts another user’s stream on your channel when you are not broadcasting. This is a great way to keep audiences switched onto your channel, as well as opening up opportunities for collaboration.
How to stream music on Twitch
Excited to get started? You may think it’s challenging getting to grips with a whole new method of streaming. Fortunately, setting up a channel on Twitch is both simple and straightforward. Twitch Music has provided a quick guide to getting started, but here are the main steps to follow:
- First, sign up for an account at Twitch.tv, then customise your Twitch account with a profile picture and bio. This bio should tell listeners what to expect from your channel. What is your genre of music? Do you regularly collaborate with other musicians? This your chance to promote yourself to a whole new audience.
- Then customise your page to add buttons (known on Twitch as ‘Panels’) linking to your website, merch store or social media profiles. You can also set up your schedule on this page so viewers know exactly when to tune in.
- Before you start streaming, give your stream a title, category (for instance Music & Performing Arts) and write a small snippet of text for your Notification, which will alert your followers when you’re about to start a broadcast.
- You can stream either via a mobile device via the Twitch app for iOS or Android. Alternatively, you can use Twitch’s specialised software Twitch Studio to stream from a desktop.
Whether you’re a new or established artist, we hope that as lockdown eases you continue to connect with your audience on digital channels. However, some of you may be preparing to get back into the studio to record your latest release. If so, we invite you to find out more about our London recording studio.
Kore Studios is a professional music studio based in Acton, West London. Over the years we’ve worked with many exciting artists, including Amy Winehouse, Florence + The Machine and The Cranberries. We employ a seasoned team of producers and engineers, who will work with you to hone your vision and find your perfect sound. Interested in booking a session? Contact Kore Studios today.