Why Twitch is Brilliant for Streaming Music

Twitch Logo

Hi I’m Gecko, I’m a London-based singer storyteller and I usually do about 150 shows a year all over the shop (metaphorical shop – I am yet to get a Sainsbury’s gig, but right now I would take anything). Obviously that hasn’t been possible this year.

At the start of lockdown like a lot of artists I did some Facebook Live shows, which were great fun, but I quickly realised that on Facebook, Instagram, etc you are performing to your existing audience — it’s a headline show essentially, and you wouldn’t book a headline show in the same city every week.

But I knew I had an album release coming later in the year, wanted to perform regularly to new audiences, and that’s where Twitch came in.

Twitch is a streaming platform and that alone, so everyone is there to watch a stream. Initially it was set up for people to stream computer games, and that’s still the biggest section. They’ve got all the computer games you can think of: Sonique the Hedgehog… Mario man, Cod of Duty, all those guys.

But the music section is growing rapidly. One of the things that makes Twitch special to my eyes is that at the end of a stream the streamer can take their audience with them to another stream (this is called a ‘raid’). Big streamers will raid little ones and there’s real love and affection amongst the community. You might be streaming to 2 people and then suddenly have 100 new eyes and ears join you.

People generally stream for longer than on Facebook, etc. Two hours is pretty standard. The longer you’re there the more possibility of a raid. It’s more relaxed and informal than a ‘show’ and the audience expects to have a good chat with you as well as hearing songs. Streamers tend to mix covers with originals, and have a list of songs that the audience can request from. But if doing covers isn’t for you (I personally have made a lot of noise about the fact that I Can’t Know All The Songs) then that’s fine too, you can make the stream whatever you want it to be.

It’s worth heading to the Twitch Music directory and just having a scroll through to get a sense of how it works.

Twitch Music directory screenshot

You can stream to Twitch directly from your phone, but most people use a thing called OBS to do it from computers. OBS is an amazing FREE software where you can build up a stream with different sources (e.g. a camera, an audio interface, image files overlaid.) There’s lots of brilliant OBS tutorials on YouTube. It can be quite intimidating, but well worth diving in to.

MONETISING YOUR STREAM MATE
To unlock the two inbuilt ways to monetise your stream you need to become an affiliate. Generally to get this status you need to stream for a certain number of hours and reach 50 followers, BUT during the pandemic Soundcloud Pro members were given the option to fast-track this process by filling out this form.

Once you are an affiliate, people can subscribe to your channel (it costs them £4.99, you receive half of that money), or give you Twitch Bits, which is Twitch’s currency (1 bit is about 1 penny).

Subscribers get an advert-free experience and you can create special emotes (Twitch emojis) that only they can use. Sometimes people are so lovely that they GIFT a sub to someone new to the stream, thus sharing the community vibe.

You can use a website called Streamlabs to link with your channel and add an overlay source to OBS so that when people subscribe or give Bits it shows up on screen. This is fun and nice for them and you can say a big thank you during the stream.

Streamlabs also has a donation tool you can add to your stream (through PayPal) – you don’t need to be an affiliate for this.

Essentially Twitch has made the process of paying for streams feel like a game (hooray), rather than sterile (not yay).

MODS AND BOTS AND WOT NOT

Mods
As you grow you might have a regular person attending that could be up for helping you with the stream when you’re busy doing the music, you can give them the power to be a ‘mod/moderator’ and they can boot out any spam that enters the chat.

Bots
You can use a website like Streamlabs to create a bot that can say things in your chat at set intervals, for example ‘DONT FORGET TO FOLLOW ME MATE’ ‘WHY NOT GIVE ME A BITS OF YOUR MONEY’ or ‘MY NEW SONG IS OUT NOW’ etc. You can hand over the promo work to a robot!

I am by no means an expert at Twitch, there are some wonderful tutorials on YouTube for expanding your knowledge well past what I have got across now. I stream at http://twitch.tv/geckomusic on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8-10pm UK time, if you have any questions come say hi and ask me in real time!

EXPERT ADVICE
I’ve asked some genuine experts on Twitch with big followings any advice they’d give a beginner.

Emma McGann
“The key to growing an audience through livestreaming is conversation and consistency. Traditional musicians and performers should think of livestreaming as if they’re pulling down the barriers at a show and letting the audience get to know them even more. Suddenly you’re not the only one sharing stories of yours songs to the room – now your audience can share their stories too. So acknowledge those conversations and allow your audience to have their own imprint on the stream – take song requests, ask questions, host a Q&A etc. This isn’t an edited YouTube video or a TV show… your audience have the power to influence the broadcaster and drive the content they see on their screens. Have fun with that!

Also, be consistent with scheduled streams and commit to time-slots that are manageable for you. Your viewers will be thankful to know when they can expect you.”

Emma’s Twitch Channel | Emma’s Website

Natalie Holmes
“Don’t be scared. It’s daunting, and I definitely was! Start simple, start with what you can handle and what you know, and very slowly grow the set up if that’s what you feel comfortable doing. Saying that, I didn’t feel comfortable getting lights, a fancy camera, and a looper, but I was gradually nudged until I did, and I don’t regret it at all! This is your place to experiment and try things you might never have tried in a normal gig environment, have fun with it.

Remember though, even when singing in your bedroom you need to look after your voice as you would for shows. In fact, singing and chatting/laughing for hours on end, sitting down, requires even more care, but it’s so easy to forget in that relaxed environment. Two years into streaming I’ve been handed another case of Muscle Tension Dysphonia and am having to take a very long break when singing & streaming is all I want to be doing right now!”

Natalie’s Twitch Channel | 
Natalie’s Bandcamp

Gecko’s new album Climbing Frame is out on now. Listen here, and check out the brilliant video for Breathe, above.

Gecko is a London-based singer storyteller, his playful lyrics cover the big things in life; think iPhones, Libraries & Guanabana fruit juice.

Gecko has previously appeared at Glastonbury, Bestival, Latitude, BBC Radio 1, 6 Music, BBC Scotland, BBC London & the Edinburgh Fringe. 

He has toured across the world from Stockholm to Wellington, Amsterdam to Harrogate. He has shared stages with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Loyle Carner & Billy Bragg.

Twitch | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify | Bandcamp

Gecko

Guest Post

One of a series of guest posts from bands, bloggers and other colleagues reviewing our Fresh Faves, sharing their expertise, and writing about their current projects.

3 Comments

  1. Great perspective and nice breakdown of the process.

  2. Been thinking about live streaming and how it would work moving over to Twitch (which has been highly recommended to me by some friends). This article makes it come across like a lot of fun, I look forward to giving it a shot very soon 🙂

  3. This is a really great and insightful piece. As someone that makes music and also uses twitch as a platform to watch gaming content, I hadn’t fully considered the possibility of using Twitch for our music, however I’m now seriously considering getting involved in the Twitch world, especially as we sink into another lockdown!

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