You’ve probably heard a lot about Twitch streaming video games, but what about using Twitch as a music artist? In terms of views, Twitch has already surpassed many traditional media networks and channels and could be new territory for music artists to make it big on. To get you the hottest tips on Twitching as an aspiring musician, we looked into the numbers and into the case of a fierce Dance DJ.
What is Twitch, and why should a musician use it?
Starting as a “lifecasting” channel that focused on the everyday life of its creator Justin Kan in 2011, Twitch grew into a massively popular platform that has already clocked in 269B minutes watched just in 2020 (that’s around 512k years) and welcomes over 140M unique viewers each month. It’s the 32nd most popular site in the world, already more popular than Twitter or eBay.
The majority of Twitch users are male millennials (from 18 to 34 years old) from the United States, who spend around an hour and a half daily on the platform on average. It’s not just a place for gamers, though. Twitch is also a broadcasting medium, and social channel, allowing people to exchange views and chat – and with over 14B chat messages sent, there’s quite a bit of connecting going on.
Since events and festivals are out of the question for the foreseeable future, live streaming music gigs seems like the necessary step for an enterprising artist. There are opportunities for getting your music out there, gaining new fans, and even receiving some income aplenty. But as with any other medium, the right approach is key to becoming a successful Twitch musician.
Or you could just chill, play some shooters and stumble upon a random celebrity.
What Twitch category to choose for your channel?
Gaming is the predominant “genre”, and Esports account for a quarter of all Twitch views, but that doesn’t mean musicians should immediately throw themselves into mastering "League of Legends". There are other categories to choose from. As a musician, you might find “Music and Performing Arts” to be the most interesting.
The popularity of the “Music and Performing Arts” category is currently booming. According to Twitch Tracker stats, the category gained 95.7% in viewer numbers in April 2020 alone. There are almost 37k weekly viewers, browsing through 550+ Twitch artist channels, and the numbers keep growing – likely due to the worldwide lockdown and to the artists migrating to streaming services. On weekends (Saturdays being the busiest), “Music & Performing Arts” is streamed by 13% more channels than on weekdays and watched by 43% more viewers.
Popular music genres on Twitch, and what NOT to play
Looking at the most viewed videos in “Music and Performing Arts”, streams featuring Electronic music seem to be the most popular (at the time of writing, Dubstep ruled supreme), and “house parties” are all the rage. Channels and profiles belonging to names such as Lost Lands Festival, Beatport, LSDream or Kenny Beats obviously have more existing fans to draw in, but it also seems that anybody, from drummers to vocalists, can carve out a niche for themselves.
Twitch videos include streaming live music sets, both acoustic and electronic music performances, interactive radios, music production, tutorials, and discussion… There’s plenty of content ideas to choose from and see which one plays to your strengths.
Be careful when selecting your content, though, as you may only use music that has been written and either recorded or performed live by you or music that you are licensed to share. DJ sets with other artists’ music could land you in trouble, so make sure to study the FAQs.
Learn from an artist: How Ducky does Twitch
One Twitch musician who caught our eye during the recent lockdown is Ducky. The LA Dance producer might look like she divides her time between Comic-Con, gaming forums, and anime club, but trust us, she can throw a mean set. And if you make the mistake of dubbing her simply as another “female producer” or “female DJ”, she might throw something at you as well.
Let’s examine what Ducky does well, and learn from it.
1. Pick what you’re good at.
Alongside streaming her “Online Rave” sessions, Ducky has branched out into other categories as well. Her “Music and Performing Arts” videos therefore also feature music production, so fans can watch her make demos in Ableton and gain some insights along the way, and she’s also active in the “Just Chatting” category, allowing people to catch a glimpse of her personal life. She’s also an avid gamer, and viewers can catch her “very chill 'Animal Crossing' streams”, which hit two marks at the same time: she has fun with them, making for enjoyable content, and "Animal Crossing" is extremely popular at the moment, so that covers the demand part.
While “battling Ableton” live, Ducky also covers the “Ask Me Anything” section. Source: Twitch
2. Schedule your content.
As Ducky herself explained, she’s been using Twitch on-and-off for the past three years, so she knows the ropes. And you bet she didn’t acquire over 3,500 followers by posting things at random. Her profile features a clear schedule on which categories and topics to expect and when thus helping people plan their views better. And people dig it if you respect their time – even during the era of social distancing.
3. Cross-pollinate your social media channels.
Making kickass content is one thing, but pushing it out there is a whole different animal. For an artist growing up in the age of social media, some ideas might, therefore, come more naturally. Ducky makes sure her announcements are spread throughout her Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Discord, usually accompanied by quirky photos and laid-back captions. She also didn’t miss out on spinning other live sets in April (most notably, HARD Summer Festival’s Staycation Virtual Rave-A-Thon, HitCommand’s “Dance Music Gives Back”, and Bandsintown’s charitable “Net Werk”), during which she boosted her exposure and invited people to visit her on Twitch.
According to social media buzz, her “Staycation” set drew so much attention that “#Ducky” was trending nationwide on Twitter on the day of the set.
This tactical cross-promotion of channels seems to be working in her favor. According to our stats, Ducky gained over 2,300 new Instagram followers in the first three weeks of April 2020 alone – that’s four times as many as she did in the same timeframe a year ago. Her Spotify and SoundCloud following increased as well – compared to her 2019 SoundCloud growth, she gained over 20% of that number in April 2020 alone – and it will be interesting to measure the “spillover effect” in the following months.
4. Engage your fans.
If any time is perfect for making your online connections stronger, it’s the time of social isolation. Not only during the “Just Chatting” minutes or gaming streams – all the time. When planning her content, Ducky regularly turns to her fanbase for additional ideas, which sometimes produce unexpected results (see below). But we bet it makes the Livestream chat sessions even more fun.
Isolation times: all about dropping beats and gaining weight.
Live gigs are what bring's the bread in the music biz. When there are no hard tickets to sell, explore other revenue possibilities. Twitch is quite financially focused, supporting various tiers of donations and subscriptions, which allows for more options than, say, paying you according to your number of plays. Ducky doesn’t shy away from directly prompting viewers to support her (and giving props to her top supporters), and combined with selling merch and taking extra care to promote herself online, that’s a smart strategy for an indie musician.
There you have it several tangible things for artists to drive alternative revenue in these strange and uncertain times, the recourses are free online and yours for the taking.