Hey, my name is Melissa Lamm. I’m a singer, songwriter and recording artist based in Toronto, Canada. In addition to all that, I am also what people call a “streamer” on Twitch.
If you haven’t heard of Twitch before, you’re not alone. While the popular Amazon-owned streaming service is hugely popular — pulling in almost one million viewers at all times — it is still a very new form of entertainment. To put it simply, Twitch is a live-streaming service where everyday people can broadcast themselves to the world via webcam. Throughout the broadcast, viewers can chat with the broadcaster (the “streamer”) in real time. While the website is most known for live-streaming gameplay of video games, Twitch also features other content like live painting, cooking, music production, and live music performance.
As a streamer, I play cover songs and original music by request for an audience of live viewers. This is a relatively recent endeavour for me. Although I released my first single more than two years ago, it wasn’t until about 10 months ago that I really took some time to focus on building myself as an artist. I released music, performed live, frequently shared on social media, ran online promotional campaigns, and sought out features on playlists and websites. I did everything I could to seek out an audience, but it wasn’t working for me. My Spotify streaming numbers were pretty weak, it was my friends–and not fans–who were buying tickets to my shows, and my social media numbers were plateauing. I was ready to explore new and unconventional ways of finding new listeners, and was referred to a website known as Twitch.
When I started streaming on Twitch seven months ago, it was a grind with little payoff. I pulled in a handful of viewers at any given time, and if I was lucky someone would head over to my Spotify profile and give me a follow. After a few months of infrequent streaming (once every couple of weeks or so), I started streaming about three to four times each week. People began to pop into my channel more often, and slowly people started to connect with me and with my music. It was an amazing feeling and a huge source of encouragement to keep going!
Fast forward just about three months, and I have an amazing and dedicated community behind me who have embraced my music and spent their time hanging out with me on Twitch every week! They’ve gotten to know me, and I’ve gotten to know them. They’ve shared their favourite songs with me, told me about their lives, they’ve even sent me pictures of their pets!
Now let me make this super clear: the best thing about Twitch is the community. The Twitch music community is welcoming, helpful, and just downright wonderful. Within that community, is a group of incredible people who come by my stream, tell me about their day and let me sing them a song. As an artist and a songwriter, all I want is to make music that connects with people. I have found a group of incredibly supportive people on Twitch who connect with my music, and that’s really all I could have asked for. These people don’t just watch my streams or download my music — they support and encourage me, and let me into their lives! That in itself, is a privilege and really all I could ever ask for. BUT, if you’re an artist who needs a bit more convincing that Twitch is an incredible way to grow… Here are a few things to consider:
Growing Your Audience. Twitch is an amazing way to reach new listeners. I generally pull in about 30-40 live viewers at any given point, but during a three hour stream I might have 300 people from around the world drop in listen. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have 300 people coming out to my shows. That’s some amazing exposure that I have never received on any other platform.
Performance Practice. Twitch is great for getting live performing experience. Sure, you’re not in a venue playing to someone face to face. But you are performing for real people, and interacting with them in real time! It’s a great way to try out new songs and see what resonates with viewers, and an awesome opportunity to practice your audience banter!
Collaboration Potential. Twitch is an amazing way to connect with producers, small labels, other artists, and companies who may want to work with you! I can’t tell you how many producers have reached out to me about collaborations after watching me on Twitch. I’ve had companies get in touch about different opportunities, and even an app who is now paying me to livestream on their platform! There is also a lot of cross-streamer collaboration, which is super awesome and exciting.
Video Content To Reshare. It’s super easy to download clips from your livestreams directly from Twitch, which you can share on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook…you name it! I’ve even started clipping full covers from my streams, and uploading them to YouTube. After a couple of streams, I have more than enough content to upload a cover to YouTube each and every day.
High Conversion To Social Media. A lot of the people who watch me on Twitch have also found me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube! I have all of my social media info handy on my Twitch channel, and it’s so easy for someone to check me out on other platforms if they like my music or connect with me. My following on Facebook increased by 25%, doubled on Twitter, and YouTube subscriptions increased by roughly 400%! But most importantly, I am connecting with more people who like my music and want to engage with me, which is an incredible feeling!
High Conversion To Spotify. I’m a big believer in music streaming services, and generally direct people to Spotify if they want to listen to my music. Since I started streaming regularly, my Spotify streams and listener count has increased about 500%. Some amazing people from my Twitch community have literally played my songs on repeat for 24 hours – which is incredible! To put this all into perspective, after streaming regularly for about three months I recently released a single called “Leaving Soon.” One day after “Leaving Soon” had been released, and it had already been streamed on Spotify more than any of my other songs had in their entire time on Spotify.
Potential For Income. I wouldn’t get into streaming for the money. It takes a long time to get to a point where you are even eligible to earn on Twitch through their Affiliate program, and even then I feel it’s just not the right mindset to stream for the money. That being said, it is possible to fund your musical projects through Twitch. Streamers earn money when people subscribe to their channel, tip you via bits (Twitch currency) or tip directly through PayPal. I accept tips in exchange for priority song requests, but I’ve also had some amazing members of my community who just tip me or give subscriptions to other viewers because they’ve enjoyed my stream! Recently, my mic cord was failing me, and an incredible person tipped me so I could buy a new mic cord! I’ve also seen other musicians raise money for new recording projects or to purchase new equipment. If you are lucky, you might find some fans who love your music enough they’ll generously support you.
A couple notes:
It takes time and some serious technology know-how to get your channel set up. If you aren’t super tech-savvy or don’t have someone to help you get set up, put on your patience hat and check out the plethora of tutorials that YouTube has to offer
It also takes time to build an audience, and for a while you may be streaming to absolutely no one. Most streamers say the first three months are the hardest and see the littlest reward. Don’t expect to hop on and have the world waiting for you. Stream often and consistently, and meet your new fans one by one!
A reliable internet connection and a powerful computer are a must if you’re planning on streaming. Test out both before you invest too much time or money into setting up your channel.
I have found the music community to be a very positive experience for the most part. However, the internet is full of trolls and Twitch is known to be home to a few of them. Don’t let the trolls bring you down, but also don’t tolerate any of their hate on your channel.
You get what you give! Put effort into your stream, setting up your channel, creating custom content for your community, and talk to your chat!