Amid all the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 crisis, many people—especially musicians—are turning to Twitch to stay connected to their fanbases as they continue to follow social distancing guidelines. Twitch, a popular live-streaming platform most well-known for its gaming content, is now home to musicians, comedians, digital personalities, podcast hosts, and more. We chatted with three Twitch streamers who’ve been using the platform before the COVID-19 crisis, and discussed their streaming setups and channel growth strategies, as well as the ways they’ve seen the platform impact their careers.
Learn about how to get started streaming on Twitch from musicians Ducky and Pauline Herr, and internet personality/gamer sexualjumanji.
How long have you been streaming on Twitch?
Ducky: I started my channel a bit over two years ago but took a long break as I was touring extensively. I recently returned to streaming regularly when we began self-isolating in California.
Pauline Herr: I’ve been streaming on Twitch for about 3 months now. I had tried to early in 2019 but only did a couple streams and kind of forgot about it for a while. In January I had a gut feeling that I should start back up again and I’m super glad I did before it got really crazy due to the quarantine.
sexualjumanji: I started out in 2016 but I was still in school and working so I didn’t really see the appeal of it as a job, but after I graduated and burned out looking for work in 2018 I decided to do it full time, so about a year now.
How many followers/viewers do you have?
Ducky: I have about 2300 followers (up from 1400 last week), [and] my average viewer count changes from stream to stream 😊
Pauline Herr: I have 1,350 followers and an average of about 30 viewers right now.
sexualjumanji: Almost 4k followers and just over 70k lifetime viewers, but on a typical stream I get between 30-60 people watching.
What is your stream/channel’s primary focus?
Ducky: I stream different stuff every day! My stream schedule is (PST):
MONDAY: 5 PM PRODUCTION STREAM
TUESDAY: 7 PM DJ SET
WEDNESDAY: 4 PM ART STREAM!
THURSDAY: 7 PM DEMO SUBMISSION
FRIDAY: 9 PM DJ SET
WEEKENDS: ANIMAL CROSSING N CHILL 🙂
Pauline Herr: The focus of my stream is music production and community. I love Twitch because of the people and I try to make my streams a way for people to connect and join a little “family” (we call it the Avo fam since my emotes are all avocados that I made and I’m known for my obsession with avocados). I also do weekly feedback sessions where I allow viewers to send me music and I’ll play it on stream for people to give feedback and support other musicians. I always loved when other streamers did this so I do it to kind of give back to my viewers and interact with them more. And then I occasionally play games (Warzone, CoD campaign, Fortnite) but I’ve found that these streams don’t draw as many of my viewers so I try to limit them and focus on what they want to see. It also helps me stay productive when I mainly do music production.
sexualjumanji: I just want to give people a place they can hang out in if they need to. Even before the state of the world became what it is, I already had the belief that I wasn’t really in it for the money anymore and was more interested in creating a place people could go relax, chat with like minded individuals, and my personal favorite: expand our minds with knowledge. My main goal now is to make myself and my viewers learn things every day.
How did you start to develop your stream and channel content?
Ducky: I kind of just… started. I’m not sure! It was a few years ago now. I learned how to stream production and DJ sets pretty easily (I’m a big computer nerd, lol) and I found it really fun. I fell off for a bit when I was touring extensively— I don’t think people realize how much upkeep and effort it is to have a consistent streaming schedule. But I’m quite excited to be back at it full time now. I love the community it fosters. Some of the stuff, like the art stream, we developed together in my community discord. I asked people what they wanted to see and they told me. It’s really funny, because I’m terrible at art. I draw on my iPad and we use what I draw as content for the stream, like emotes for the channel and stuff.
Pauline Herr: I started out without really knowing anything about streaming. I hadn’t watched any streams so I was kind of just blindly going in and doing what felt right to me. Once I kind of got the hang of being on camera and stuff I started watching YouTube videos and researching a bit more on how to make my stream better and more visually pleasing. I made a bunch of custom emotes in Adobe Illustrator for my subs to use and that has helped the stream a ton. It gives my viewers a way to communicate with me and each other in a unique way that kind of supports me. Along the way I’ve had people give me feedback about my stream and tell me things I could improve which has helped immensely. I also have a few “mods” (people who moderate the stream chat and some of the settings/commands you can set up) that I’m super grateful for. I would be super lost without them so shoutout to my Avo fam mods 😊
sexualjumanji: It’s all about finding what people like to watch and what they don’t. There’s thousands of things to stream in the world so you never know what’s going to be the smash hit of the month, but as a smaller streamer I’ve found success with having a secondary form of entertainment like YouTube videos going while you stream. It opened up a lot of avenues to bring in other content to commentate on, and there’s a YouTube video for anything you want to watch, so the options are endless.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in developing your streaming audience and voice?
Ducky: To be honest, I haven’t found it particularly challenging to develop a voice. My “brand” is quite consistent throughout everything I do, because it’s authentically me. I’m also very fortunate to have the amazing Sydney Jones as a designer working with me, who develops all of the visual content (except for the terrible drawings I do that we use, haha). She’s been really key in bringing the visual side to life and creating that world. As for developing an audience—it’s a slow build, especially now when there’s so much noise on the internet. It can be difficult to cut through. But I’m so fortunate to have a really cool community around me, and one that continues to grow in an organic way. That’s all I could ever really ask for.
Pauline Herr: I think initially setting up OBS was the hardest part. It’s a pretty confusing software but I’m starting to get the hang of it. Another issue I face a lot is my MacBook Pro overheating and my CPU going crazy while I’m working on music, which causes the stream to lag (or crash). I’m hoping to build myself a PC soon so that I can resolve that issue but for the time being I’m managing that by placing ice packs behind my laptop, having it sit on a special fan I bought and just hoping for the best!
sexualjumanji: Coming from Twitter where I have many more followers than the stream, the big struggle has always been trying to get people to move from one site to another. I try to tell people it’s like my Twitter account in real time but it never really seemed to work, so now I don’t really bring Twitter into it. Twitter is just not a good website to create real concrete engagement in my opinion. But I’m happy with the core audience we’ve (me and the viewers) built, the same folks that come to hang out do it every day so it really makes me happy, and every day we add new people that say they wish they had clicked the link sooner.
How do you stay connected with your current audience? What do you do to grow your audience?
Ducky: We have a community Discord that I’m in constantly, with a special private channel for Twitch subscribers. I’m pretty active on a lot of platforms—Twitter, Instagram, Discord, Twitch. Discord and Twitch are my favorite because we all just get to hang out with each other. It’s really special. I also check out a lot of other artists’ streams on Twitch, and I make sure to raid other artists’ streams when I’m done with my own. I’m big on the community element of Twitch, and I think we need to be supporting each other right now more than ever and helping each other grow.
Pauline Herr: Most of my viewers follow me on social media so we stay in contact there, but I also have a Discord channel where they can go and chat with one another and me. I recommend every Twitch streamer set up a Discord channel as a way for your audience to kind of stay connected and grow a community. I think the best way to grow your audience is to just be yourself and let the right people come to you. It blows my mind how sweet and supportive most of my viewers are. I think you attract what you give out so just do you—be kind and respectful and the rest will fall into place.
sexualjumanji: I follow the most hardcore fans back on Twitter, and I set up a viewer Discord where anyone can join and chat when the stream isn’t live. Some truly great laughs have been shared there off-stream. My number one audience growth mechanic so far was the addition of a gambling system in the chat, essentially the viewers can periodically gamble fake currency and a robot laughs at them or doubles it up. I’m honestly convinced a few people only stop by to do that haha.
What are some misconceptions people have about streaming on Twitch?
Ducky: Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of artists hop on before they’re ready. Poor audio setups, no panels or alert boxes, the list goes on. I think there’s this idea that, you know, I have this big platform and people are probably going to watch me, so I might as well just do it. And I think that’s kind of a shame. I think it’s a shame not to learn the platform you’re using—learn the extensions and make your stream interesting. Learn what a raid is and support a smaller artist when you’re done. Learn a little bit about what else is happening on Twitch before you just make an account and start streaming. You probably listened to electronic music before you wrote your first song—have you ever watched another streamer?
Pauline Herr: I think one big misconception is making money on the platform. You have to have a pretty big audience to do this. Unless you’re already a big artist, you’ll need to be patient and grow your channel before big checks start coming in. I’ve also noticed a lot of artists who don’t really interact with their chat on Twitch much, if at all, and I think they’re missing the whole point of Twitch if they’re doing that. My favorite thing about streaming is talking to people and interacting with everyone while I do what I love. I find joy in answering questions or sharing knowledge and I know how important it is to have a sense of community, especially right now. It makes me happy when people feel like they have a family within my channel and I really do feel a lot of love towards my viewers. Their support is unreal and I wouldn’t have been able to finish my EP without them.
sexualjumanji: Financially I think most people are under the assumption streaming is a get rich quick scheme, and it may be for people with devout followings on other platforms, but in reality most small streamers spend a lot of time grinding to meet minimum wage. And it doesn’t help that the $5 subscriber fee is only $2.50 because Twitch takes half of it, even though they are owned by Amazon—that’s a whole beef I have. Creatively it can be a struggle sometimes when you get in that mindset where you’re like “this is never going to amount to anything, so why try?” but all you need is one good stream to break out of that mindset. Also, it’s not as easy as just sitting there playing video games—on top of the gaming you have to entertain and actually be there for your viewers as a person for multiple hours a day.
Do you feel that Twitch has helped you in your career? Why or why not?
Ducky: I do! I think it’s a wonderful place to connect with fans and it’s built this incredible community for us, really given us a place to connect with each other. I also find I write some of my best music while I’m streaming production. It’s really awesome.
Pauline Herr: Immensely. I can’t really imagine where I’d be right now without it. Like I said, it helped me finish my debut EP within a few short weeks after having gone through some serious writers block for 2 months. Streaming really motivates me to get work done and helps with my confidence in my music a lot and that’s an area I definitely need to work on. And not only does it motivate me, I also learn a lot from my viewers. If I’m stuck on something or have a question related to music production they always have an answer and it’s cool to be able to exchange our knowledge and be supportive of one another. I really can’t speak more highly of Twitch and what it’s done for me as an artist.
sexualjumanji: I’m constantly thinking about how it might be impossible for me to go back into the workplace because I’ve been out of it for over a year now, so I’d say it’s probably hurt me on that front. But in a way it’s helped because it’s the first time I’ve ever really sat down and did something for me, and actually showed effort in it nearly every day of the week. When I used to work my other jobs I would always be looking for a way out or a day off, now I work 6 days a week and don’t really think about it.
What makes another streamer interesting to you?
Ducky: Lately I’ve been watching a lot of my fellow artists’ channels, checking out what people are bringing over to the platform as new streamers. I’m not gonna say that most of them have the best developed channels yet—but I’m excited that the musical side of Twitch seems to be getting a lot more attention all of a sudden. It’s an interesting time, for sure.
Pauline Herr: I love to watch other streamers work on music, it’s really inspiring to see people do what they do best and learn from them.
sexualjumanji: I’m all about personality and vibes, I want a place where I can relax before or after my own show and tell jokes that people will say lol to.
Which streamers do you typically watch?
Pauline Herr: The streams I’ve been into recently are from Laxcity, Carter, Medasin, Jauz, Vincent, Duumu, Duskus, Habstrakt, Evergreen, Tails, Maazel, Jupe, and Wuki.
sexualjumanji: My favorite streamer that I’ve been subscribed to for around 30 months is Charlie Winsmore (twitch.tv/charliewinsmore). I could honestly list 50 streams I enjoy but I’ll stick to the ones I can vouch for which would be the fellas at twitch.tv/eatchain, twitch.tv/gooffkings and twitch.tv/chapotraphouse. Some fellow smaller streamers like myself that I enjoy are twitch.tv/dangerousneil, twitch.tv/bobygamesdotcom and many more I can’t remember currently and will feel bad for not including.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice when you first started your Twitch channel, what would it be?
Ducky: Just keep going, don’t take that break when you get busy with tour, haha! But honestly, the resources are all there if you take a little time and actually learn what you’re doing before you click the button and go live. It’s not as scary or complicated as it seems at first. Be patient and make sure your stream looks the way you want it to, sounds the way you want it to, before you’re broadcasting to the world. You can record your streams before you go live and check the video. Make sure everything is in order, test your widgets, do something you’re proud of. It’s an awesome platform.
Pauline Herr: I started off streaming using apple earbuds as a microphone so I would definitely tell myself to NOT do that (lol). Also to play less games and do more music production/feedback sessions. Feedback is such a great way to grow your audience and interact with them. It’s also really inspiring to hear the music people are making. It can get a bit tiring listening to demos for two hours but I know how much feedback means to my viewers so I’m happy to give them that time to showcase their own music.
sexualjumanji: Stop worrying about what other people want to see and worry about what you want to do, it will be a lot more fun after that and turns out that’s what they wanted to see!