New Music, New Merch, & Nerd Talk

Wow.
It’s the day before my birthday, and Indiscreet releases to all online stores at midnight tonight.

I made merch and even though most people haven’t heard the songs yet (except for Wrong with Me), there are several people who already purchased the merch! I took a chance and decided to order custom USB drives instead of CDs as my physical copies of the EP. I’m glad I did. Although more expensive, I love that I can easily customize these USB drives by writing on them and adding music to them (yay – bonus songs). The pouches are so cute, but they are not easy to make. Honestly, I probably should have charged more! My mom embroiders and sews them. I’ve only help with cutting and trimming so far. Every run to the post office has been exciting!

I worked really hard making sure these songs were the most professional and polished songs that I’ve ever created, hiring a professional drummer, spending hours recording and mixing with my husband, getting professional mix feedback and mastering done from Focus Mastering… which, if you want to totally nerd out with me, look at this incredible client list! Maybe Doug will add my name to his list soon, and it can live on his website alongside some of my absolute favorite artists!

I also researched tons of marketing techniques so that I could get my music heard by the people who are the most likely to enjoy it. I have a pretty small fan base, not very many friends, and I have NO live gigs lined up (thank you covid). I also live in a rural town where there aren’t a lot of venues, and barely any bands or singer-songwriters who put together showcases centered around original music. I have been performing on Twitch about once a week, and I do have a birthday stream planned for tomorrow. The inconsistency of my Twitch streams is not helping me grow much there, though. I thought I had wasted money investing in submithub and playlist parrot (places where you can submit your music to bloggers, playlist makers, podcasters, video creators, and more), but it seems to be working out! My single, Wrong with Me, is getting way more attention than my other releases ever did. I’m definitely going to repeat the process for the rest of the EP as soon as it is released.

Here is a little chart showing my Spotify followers.

I know it’s not millions, or thousands, or even hundreds yet, but I sure am going in the right direction. For the past couple months I’ve had new followers pretty much every single day. I’m not going to stop making music and putting it out there, so I don’t expect this trend to plateau any time soon. If you’re following me on Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, or Amazon Music, thank you so much! You’re really helping me out! The more people who listen to my music and add it to their personal playlists, the more these algorithmic platforms favor my music and start associating my songs with similar artists or songs. It actually helps way more than you’d expect, because it’s not like I’m just getting .003 cents because you streamed my song. It’s as if you just voted for that song by listening to it or 🤍ing it, and after a while, Spotify (or whatever platform you’re using) decides that if enough people are listening and adding it to their personal library of saved music, it must be worth listening to. And then they start recommending the song to similar users, and it leads to better discoverability – an increased chance of getting new fans, followers, listeners, subscribers, merch customers.

So, um, my point is… Thanks.
I truly appreciate you.


Wrong with Me

My first release of 2021 is now being sent to lots of online stores and streaming services! January 21, 2021, Wrong with Me will be available for your listening pleasure. It’s a single that will be part of an EP, but I’ll tell you more about that later.

It feels brand new, but Wrong with Me is a song I wrote almost 2 years ago now. It’s personal. It makes me uncomfortable to sing sometimes. It’s about me, feeling completely overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. If you don’t get what I’m saying, here’s a visual:

For the record, no, I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD (just anxiety). But when I saw this, it made me think of exactly how I felt when I wrote the first few lines of Wrong with Me (& so many other times in my life that I have been internally panicking).

Releasing this song feels symbolic. They say that admitting there is a problem is the first step to fixing it, right?

I’ve been working hard to understand myself more, to work through issues, to be a productive human being, to be a better mother, friend, collaborator. So, in a way it feels like by releasing this song, I’m moving on, and when I sing this song, I’ll be singing about something from the past. By talking about it, I hope to help remove the stigma around mental illness, and help others realize that they are not alone. They can absolutely move past it (whatever “it” is for them). When the weight of everything is so heavy that you feel like you can’t move, maybe this song could be the thing that helps you get through it, like it helped me.

Anyway, Rebecca Sykes plays drums on this recording, Andrew, from Moon & Sea, plays electric guitar and bass, giving this recording a very Midwest emo vibe. It was mastered by Doug Van Sloun at Focus Mastering. It turned out dramatic, dynamic, and everything I wanted it to be. I couldn’t be happier that it’s my first release of 2021!

Here is the link: Pre-save Wrong with Me. It’ll send you a notification when the song is available.
& thank you. I love you. Yes, you.

Beat Making

I recently dove into the world of beat making.


This is the album art for the first two beats I put out for sale.

For now, I’m using Beatstars.com as the platform that I sell beats on. It’s a website where artists (mostly rappers) can search for beats and then lease them for a pretty low price. There are other similar websites that I may try in the future. In fact, I’ve already advertised myself as a singer and mix engineer on SoundBetter, and it turns out they allow you to sell “tracks” after you have proven yourself by getting a certain amount of verified reviews. So hopefully I can start selling beats/tracks there soon too.

A couple people I talked to were surprised that there is a market for selling beats, but there definitely is. I think some rappers spend a lot of time trying to find the perfect fit for their projects, and it turns out, I enjoy working on hip hop songs.

If you think about it, it’s a win win situation. I make a new song that I think someone could rap over, and whether the song gets purchased right away or not, I exercised my skills as a producer (maybe even learned something new in the process). Also, if someone buys the cheaper song lease option, which is the most popular thing people do, I don’t have to take it off the site and could potentially sell the same track many times.

Anyway, if you’re a rapper or another type of artist that doesn’t have the means to fully produce their own material, you should definitely check out the tracks that I’ve put up so far. If nothing floats your boat, you can always head over to SoundBetter and hire me to make a custom production specifically for your song, since I need those verified reviews anyway.

October 2020

Here is a list of songs I produced or contributed vocals or instrumentation to this month:

That’s nineteen songs!

I have never worked so hard, for so many hours, on music in one month before in my life. Even my most successful month of FAWMing did not come close to this amount of music creation! These songs obviously have not all been released yet, and some might never be released on streaming services because they were made with the intention of getting licensed. But most of these creations will be released in the near future, and some of them are already available to stream or purchase.

So, remember my blog post titled “What’s Next?” where I outlined my priorities, and at the end I said some sort of disclaimer that my goals and priorities could always shift and change dramatically?

Well, they did.

After writing that, I discovered that there is an artist who rebranded herself as Katie Dwyer Music. It didn’t bother me that much (because that is her actual name, after all) until I realized that google has mixed all our information, songs, social links, and more together, as if we are the same artist. I’m not cool with that. It also makes me wonder if there are other streaming services and search engines out there who are mixing us up or think we are the same person. I’ve made an effort to correct google (with no response yet). I also wonder if she was aware of me and decided to use the name anyway, knowing that people searching for me might end up accidentally listening to her. If I was going to release my first album and someone else, who had my exact name, was already actively releasing music under that name, I would definitely choose a different name (like maybe my first name and middle name, or a creative alternate stage name that resonates with me). I think that’s why this situation is so surprising to me. The whole thing is just unnecessary. There is a positive spin to this though. I now have someone who is unknowingly, accidentally encouraging me to push myself to write more, release more, and market myself in a better and more unique way than they are currently doing, so that eventually when someone searches my name, I am the first thing that shows up.

The next thing that happened that completely shifted my priorities is that a hip hop artist, Heyoka, hired me to mix and master his upcoming album, Toksa Ake (which, if you were wondering, means “See You Later” in Lakota). He has a ton of unreleased, original material, and we had to narrow down his long list in order to choose the songs that I’d be able to get done within this month. I’ve always enjoyed hip hop, but it’s never been my main genre. I’ve never mixed any hip hop songs before this project! So, as I’m sure you can imagine, I had to learn a lot about common rap/hip hop mixing techniques in this genre as I worked through this project. He was patient and appreciative through the entire process, and I’m so thankful that he trusted me and my artistic taste to help him complete this project.

Now that I have completed Toksa Ake with Heyoka, my efforts will shift back toward completing my indie rock artist EP, and everything that comes with it (new photos, new merch, marketing, etc.). Then, I can start working with other South Dakota artists that I want to collaborate with! These include, but are not limited to, Kara Brusven, Humbletown, and Tiana Spotted Thunder. I’m so excited to start writing with all three of these incredible artists!

One reason I am proud of the work I’ve done this month is that, in addition to completing more music than I ever have before, I was able to continue teaching weekly free ukulele lessons on Twitch, and I continued teaching my children their homeschool curriculum. I also made my ukulele students a private facebook group so they can share their progress with me, and I taught my two year old daughter the names of each piece of my drum kit. Her favorite is the high hat.

I will keep this entry short and simple. I have more ideas that I would love to share and put into action, but I am trying to contain my excitement and finish the things that I start before moving on to the next project. So I will keep these to myself for now, but please stay in touch so that as soon as I’m ready I can share these new musical adventures with you.

What do I need to start playing ukulele?

Okay, here’s the short answer — a ukulele.

But what type of ukulele is best? What are some trusted brands? Is it okay to use a ukulele that’s bought from a toy company? What if it’s for my child and they are rough with their belongings? Do I need any products to care for my ukulele? How should I clean my ukulele? Do I need a case for my ukulele? Should I use a pick to strum my ukulele?

If you are asking any of these questions, I have some good news…

I went shopping for you.

I’ve been playing ukulele for about 12 years and also sold ukuleles when I was helping manage a local music store. I’ve considered all your different needs and put together a list that will not only make it easy for you to make decisions about what will work best for you, but will also be a learning experience. By the end of this little blog you’ll fully understand what the benefits are of the different sizes and materials that ukuleles are commonly made of and you’ll know what ukulele accessories are actually worth buying.

First, we will talk about the actual instrument. There are four ukulele sizes; soprano (small), concert (medium), tenor (large), and baritone (extra large). I am not going to present any information on baritone ukuleles here, because they are tuned differently (almost like a different instrument entirely) and in general, less sought after. I also don’t own a baritone ukulele, so I wouldn’t be able to confidently give out information on them. Here are a few ukulele recommendations below, and links to the various sizes that each recommended style comes in!

My favorite ukuleles

Waterman Ukulele: This is the ukulele that I often recommend to parents who are buying ukuleles for their young children, or to people who are looking for a durable “beater” ukulele, to use as a backup to their nicer, wood ukulele. It’s also super inexpensive! The Waterman gets its name because this ukulele is water resistant! It’s hard plastic body allows you to stop worrying about whether the humidity is damaging your instrument. Check out the Waterman Ukulele in these sizes and colors — Soprano (smallest), Glow in the Dark Aqua Soprano, Glow in the Dark Concert (medium size), Black Concert. This ukulele is not available in the tenor size and is not available with EQ.

Kala Ebony Ukulele: If you take my free lessons on Twitch, you’ve definitely seen and heard this ukulele before! I have the Kala Ebony Tenor Ukulele with EQ, and it’s my favorite for live performances! I love the long neck that the tenor size gives me and the low action of the strings (easy to press against the neck). It’s such a comfortable instrument to play, and the sound is fantastic. The striped wood gives each of these a unique look and a gorgeous tone.
With EQ (meaning you can plug it in with an instrument cable): Soprano, Concert, Tenor,
Without EQ (you have to use a microphone to amplify this): Soprano, Concert, Tenor, Concert Pack (with case, learning DVD, and polishing cloth), Soprano Pack (with case, learning DVD, and polishing cloth).

Kala Satin Mahogany Ukulele (is a bit less flashy than the ebony. One of Kala’s best sellers, it has a smoother, more classic look that seems right for just about anyone. It’s also a bit less pricy. Here is the Mahogany Concert Ukulele with electronics, and the Mahogany Concert Ukulele without electronics, Soprano with electronics, Soprano without electronics, Tenor (with glossy finish), Tenor (with glossy finish and electronics).

So, those would be my top recommendations, but that doesn’t come close to how many ukuleles there are out there! I like Kala because of their friendly customer service, how long they’ve been in the business, and what a wide variety of price points and styles they make their ukuleles in, but I also have a Lanikai Concert UkeSB and a GoldTone Banjolele that I adore! There are also many companies selling packaged deals that come with tuners, cleaning cloths, gig bags and more. It’s okay to buy a cheaper, smaller brand of ukulele. Is it more risky? Yes. But most of the time, you won’t be spending much on these, so the risk will be relatively small. So here is a link to more ukuleles and package deals on amazon! My advice – read the reviews and go for it!

Ukuleles on Amazon

Storage Options

You are going to need to put your ukulele somewhere. People have wildly different preferences here, but common sense tells us that you’ll want it safe from babies, toddlers, pets, and extreme changes in temperature and humidity. If you buy a ukulele that comes with a gig bag or soft case, that will offer a bit of protection, but usually, not much.

My favorite method is hanging my instruments on the wall with a simple String Swing. What an easy way to keep it off the ground, away from danger, and also within reach. Seeing your ukulele on the wall will encourage you to reach out and play it more often, and can even be part of your décor! It’s almost like a new piece of art that you’re adding to the room.

If you’re like me and want to go out and play your instrument live, maybe take it on road trips and flights with you, then you’ll need something more heavy duty than the gig bag. I have this hard case for my tenor ukulele and it looks so cute while doing it’s job (here it is in the Concert size)! It’s also a been great place for me to put out a tip jar and CDs while performing in the past, making my merch table a bit more attractive. There are plenty of brands that have hard cases available (look here), but be careful purchasing a case! Even though your ukulele is labeled “concert” doesn’t mean that it will fit in every case labeled concert sized. Ukuleles vary a bit, just like other instruments, in length, depth, and shape. You can order a case that doesn’t match the brand, but measure the depth and length of your ukulele so that you’re SURE it will be a good match (or at least know the return policy).

The third way to store a ukulele is in a freestanding ukulele stand, like this one. These are great to keep near your desk or acoustic amp at home, or wherever you regularly practice. Of course, these won’t keep your instrument quite as safe if you have pets or babies on the floor, so be careful where you choose to keep it. This isn’t my favorite method, but it’s portable, inexpensive, and doesn’t ruin your walls, so many choose a simple ukulele stand.

Humidity

Humidity ruins ukuleles! Your wood instruments are in danger when humidity changes drastically, even if it seems like a gradual rise and fall throughout the months. If you read the manual of your ukulele it will tell you the best humidity for your instrument. Usually this is about 40%. If you have many wood instruments, it is probably worth it to invest in a humidifier for the entire room where your instruments are stored and a humidity gauge.

These are Ukulele Case Humidifiers. If you don’t want to humidify your house or a room of your house, you can humidify JUST the instrument itself with one of these small humidifiers. If you travel with your ukulele, especially in dry seasons, you should get a case humidifier even if you have a whole-room humidifier. You would hate to be traveling with your ukulele and have it crack or warp so much that it’s bridge pops off.

Picks

I don’t typically use a pick when I play ukulele, but kids LOVE picks (or “chips” as many young students tend to accidentally call them). Picks also help kids learn how to properly strum their instrument. For some reason, this skill is just easier when your fingers are holding something instead of flailing about. When it comes to strumming ukulele, a common plastic guitar pick is not going to sound nearly as good as these leather picks or these felt picks. My personal favorite is the leather, because they sound the least “flappy” against the strings.

Capo

Not gonna lie, I will never buy a ukulele capo. Ukuleles have 4 strings and you have 4 fingers, so you can ALWAYS find a way to play the chords you need to play without using a capo. However, many people disagree with me on this, and if you want to strum along to your favorite song, but you NEED to play C chords, then who am I to tell you not to! Here are some inexpensive ukulele capos and here is a Kala ukulele capo. Why should I even show you the Kala capo when the other is $10 less? Well, if you’re going to use a capo you should not use a capo meant for a guitar, mandolin, or other instrument because those instruments need a higher tension (more pressure) in order for the capo to work against the strings or those instruments. Yes, a mandolin is a similar size, but it has twice the number of strings, the strings are tighter, and the strings are doubled/close together, so a mandolin capo needs MUCH more tension, even if it looks the same size. Some capos say they can be used on guitar, ukulele, banjo, mandolin, bass guitar, etc. etc. and those are the ones I would avoid. So, long story short, if I ever lose a finger or two and decide to get a ukulele capo, it will be made by a reputable ukulele brand.

Care

Caring for your ukulele is easy. You need to make sure it’s clean and stored in a decent humidity, and someday you’ll need to change the strings. Most people need their strings changed because they didn’t understand how to tune a ukulele and tightened the string until it snapped. Nylon strings last much longer than metal guitar strings, so you won’t need to do this very often. I don’t want to link any specific set of strings because there are different sizes/thicknesses to the strings of instruments. Your best bet is to take it to a local music store and have them change the strings, but if that’s not an option, finding strings online is easy and there are plenty of youtube tutorials to help you through the string changing process. String Winders also make this process pretty quick! To clean a ukulele, I personally don’t use a special polishing cloth (but they do make them). Any soft cloth will do, and you can use this ukulele cleaner to make sure you don’t corrode or damage the surface of your instrument (never use all purpose cleaners).

Hope you all got some great ideas from this, and as always,

Happy Strumming!

Free Ukulele Lessons

After teaching private ukulele lessons throughout spring and summer via zoom, I knew I’d have to change my method. Homeschooling four children doesn’t exactly leave a lot of extra time to schedule lessons throughout the week. However, I really love teaching ukulele and songwriting, so I felt determined to find a way to continue doing that work.

Four of my students who began learning ukulele with me started using their new skills to write their own songs. One wrote four completed songs, and she’s only seven and has only played ukulele for 4 months. These students not only started a new hobby that (*gasp*) doesn’t involve screen time or use any electricity, but they found a new method of expressing themselves in a time when the entire world is under much more stress than normal. I believe there are people out there that could greatly benefit from the therapeutic process of playing and creating music, and they just don’t know it yet! I think that’s why I feel this continuous drive to show people the simple skills it takes to start playing this adorable, portable instrument.

Something that really bothered me about my zoom lessons was that I felt like they weren’t accessible to everyone. They were only available to the people who could afford it ($20 per lesson), could send the money electronically, had a stable internet connection, had a device with a decent camera and microphone so I could see what they were doing, etc. We also had latency issues occasionally. Even though I consistently have a good internet connection and use an Ethernet cable, if the student had a connection issue, they would see me basically slowing down and then speeding up, making it impossible to practice playing in time with each other.

So those were the issue I wanted to solve. And honestly, I think I have done a pretty good job! By teaching lessons via Twitch livestream, no one needs to pay me money (but if they find the content valuable, it’s super easy to tip), no one needs to have a good camera or microphone because I can’t see or hear them anyway, no one needs decent internet (Twitch has latency problems FIGURED OUT, and if you have a bad connection, you’ll just be seeing me teach a second or two later than someone who has fantastic internet), no one needs to feel embarrassed or intimidated because they can remain completely anonymous if they’d like, and everyone still has the ability to communicate with me because Twitch has a great chat feature that is easy for me to see and respond to (and doesn’t have the delay that you experience on other platforms …*cough, cough* facebook).

And I get paid! Yes, that’s right. I teach lessons to everyone for FREE, but I still get paid! When you first arrive on my Twitch channel and I am live, you will be shown a one minute ad. Most of the ads on Twitch are hilarious, creative, and entertaining, so as a viewer I usually don’t mind. I make a tiny bit of money each time an ad is viewed. If you hate ads, you have the option to subscribe. Subscribers see no ads on my channel, they get to use my super fun custom emojis in the chat, and they have access to past livestreams (both lessons and performances). This is super handy if you ever want to re-take a lesson to better understand the concepts being taught or if you are unavailable to participate live. Being a subscriber is only $5 per month, but actually, that can be free too. Twitch is part of Amazon. So if you have Amazon Prime, one of your member benefits is that you get one free Twitch subscription per month. When you click on subscribe it’ll ask whether you want to subscribe using money or using your Prime Sub.

This image is what you will see if you go to my channel (from a computer) while I am not live. The 3 things that I circled in pink are the most important buttons on my channel.

The About section has loads of information and links.

The purple ❤ Follow button allows you to get notifications when I go live.

The ⭐️Subscribe button allows you to to use my custom emojis in the chat, never see ads on my channel, and have access to my past videos anytime you want. You can choose to pay $5 per month or use your “Prime Sub” which is a free option for people who have Amazon Prime.

Happy Strumming!

I truly appreciate every one of my subscribers! You are the people who make it possible for me to continue teaching and for me to reach a larger audience that otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate.

If you plan on chatting with me during our lesson and you haven’t already done so, go make a username on Twitch.tv and give my channel a follow.
I hope to see you all in the chat on Monday!

Lastly, here is a video from a couple weeks ago when I decided to go live on my facebook page and then share it to the facebook event. In this video I demonstrate how to tune a ukulele and then talk about this new virtual teaching method. Grab your ukulele before you click play if you’d like to learn how to tune your own.

What’s next?

I spent the past 9 months investing in myself for the first time in a long time. I took two online classes — a Berklee music production class and a songwriting course focused on music licensing. Throughout the entirety of my adult life I had never prioritized my music. When my twenties were ending I realized that I had a decade’s worth of good songs that had never been properly recorded, released, and loved. I was not interested in feeling sorry for myself about it… I wanted to show up and stop putting my wants and needs last on the list of priorities.

The first class was twelve weeks and focused on basic recording, mixing, and mastering techniques. I took it because the thought of paying someone else to record me and then mix and master my music for me didn’t work for me. I don’t live near a professional studio. The cost of traveling, food, and hotel near a studio scared me, and that’s before considering the actual cost of studio time. And I’m a mother. How could my family survive without me if I was gone for a week recording at a studio? And I don’t have a huge fan base, so recovering that money in sales and royalties after my release would probably take decades. All these thoughts combined made the cost of the class seem well worth it, especially if I gained the skills needed to release high quality music over and over again for the rest of my life.

The second course was six months long. It was hard for me to commit to this one. It required a lot of time and money that I wasn’t sure I’d have enough of. In February I was introduced to the course through a 5 Day Challenge facebook group. Before that I had never even heard the word “sync.” I thought you just had to make good music, and then if you got really lucky or really famous, someone would contact you and ask to use your song in a show or commercial. Turns out, that’s really not how it works. I had started streaming and found it rewarding to be able to perform music from home. This class seemed to teach another method of being a paid musician from home, and that offer was too attractive for me to pass up.

Then COVID hit the states, and honestly, I was so ready for it. I had my PC set up for streaming, with multiple mic options and a decent web cam. I had lots of experience in zoom from both of my classes, and I was already staying home with my baby. So when my kids’ school closed, I didn’t need to quit a day job to stay home and teach them (like so many other people I know).

Last month, the six month songwriting course ended. So, what’s next? I have so many music related goals, and so many ideas! Here are the first few things that I am I’m going to focus on, though.

  • Streaming: I want to keep my Twitch stream active, gain more followers, and more importantly, gain actual, real fans who genuinely enjoy my music. It’s such a beautiful way to connect with people, and I’d like to keep up the momentum. I also learned how to monetize streaming on facebook. I don’t think it’ll be nearly as lucrative as Twitch, but I’m willing to at least try it out.
  • Indie Rock EP: My husband and I recently made an indie electro-pop EP under our band name, Moon & Sea. He enjoyed the mixing and production process and asked to be involved in the recording and mixing of my next EP. I haven’t chosen a release date, but the recording process has started!
  • Disco pop EP: During my songwriting course I experimented with different genres and tried to expose myself to modern influences. I ended up really enjoying funky pop songs and write a couple of them. I don’t know if this EP will be a collaborative effort between myself and my classmate, Jessie Max, or if she will just be featured on a song or two on this EP. I also might hold off for quite a while on releasing this one because I’d like to use this material to submit to briefs that are looking for funky, dancey, pop songs for film, tv, or advertising.
  • South Dakota Collaborations: For some reason, I absolutely LOVE local music/musicians. I’ve reached out to a couple South Dakota singer songwriters in hopes that we can write new original material together and release the song(s) online. I love the idea of promoting local artists’ work and sharing our audiences with each other by creating something new. I haven’t actually started any songs yet with these artists, but I have a feeling good things will happen relatively soon. Especially since live gigs are a bit harder to come by, I’m hoping people have more time to write, record, and create.

So, those are my current priorities. Could they change? Yes, absolutely, on any day at any moment, but this is where they stand today. My biggest motivation is getting my indie rock style EP finished. I should probably be focusing on other things since I don’t expect this project to bring in much income. But my heart seems to be pulling me in this direction, and I’m going to listen.

The Origin of my Twitch Stream

A couple days after daughter was born in September 2018, and I burst into tears. I knew that I couldn’t leave her with someone else while I played gigs, so I simply wasn’t going to play live music again until, well, who knows when. After a productive summer full of paid gigs, I now had no gigs scheduled. It was over. I tried every few months to play a show, but the stress of making sure my kids were taken care of, traveling, setting up and taking down my PA system by myself, and getting paid next to nothing, always made it seem like it wasn’t worth it.

From October 2018 to October 2019 I had spent most of my days caring for my daughter, which included lots of babywearing and breastfeeding. Although I loved caring for her, it was boring. So I played Call of Duty basically every day, while wearing my snuggly baby in one of my many baby carriers. A lot of my needs were met through gaming. I’m a social person and made many friends while playing. I loved the mental stimulation, the social aspect, the teamwork, strategy building and decision making, everything. I loved feeling like I was on an adventure, instead of trapped in my home with small children. It was a beautiful and welcomed distraction, and I don’t at all regret that I spent so many hours playing.

I think it was early October of 2019 when I opened twitch.tv in a new tab of my web browser. I was going to watch a streamer play Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 so that I could see what the new content would be like while waiting for my game to finish updating. On the front page of twitch, something else caught my eye. There was a singer-songwriter, a female musician that was about my age, singing and playing guitar, with thousands of viewers and hundreds of comments scrolling up the side of the screen. This was when I realized that Twitch was not just people playing video games… There was an entire world of people streaming live music that I had been completely unaware of! And just like that I was hooked. I watched all sorts of music streamers. I knew that eventually I was going to start streaming music too. The most surprising thing I noticed in this process of watching and learning, was that the vast majority of these streamers were genuinely kind people! They were talented, caring, and willing to help others like myself by answering my questions about twitch culture and streaming.

After only a few days of watching music streamers, I purchased some streaming gear, and started rearranging my PC and music equipment. By the end of the month, I was actively streaming. It was an amazing feeling to be performing my original songs live, to an audience, without the stress of moving heavy equipment, going to a sketchy venue, being away from my baby for many hours, etc. My gamer friends would even stop playing for a while to come enjoy my stream and show their support. I was determined to meet the criteria to become an affiliate (have a monetized stream channel) in that first month of streaming, and I did.

December 2019

I started planning my life around streaming. I found someone who could watch my daughter for a couple days a week so that I could stream and work on other music projects that I suddenly felt motivated to do. I started a youtube channel so that I could feature performances from my livestreams there. I started researching other methods of becoming a paid, stay-at-home musician, and was starting to implement some of those ideas. Everything seemed to be falling into place.

January 2020

When the pandemic reached the U.S. and the schools and daycare facilities closed in March 2020, I was taking two online music courses. Keeping up with my own classes while simultaneously teaching my children 1st and 3rd grade from home left me no time to stream. I had done it before, but I never enjoyed having the added stress of streaming while my kids weren’t being actively watched by someone, knowing they could bust into my Bandroom screaming at any moment. COVID may have seriously screwed up my streaming schedule, but like before, I am evolving and working out a new plan to keep streaming regularly and accomplishing my music goals. More people are online now than ever before, and they’re looking for safe ways to be entertained. They are looking for a community to connect with. I feel so lucky that I figured out the basics of livestreaming before life threw this unexpected twist at us, but I also believe that it’s not too late to start right now.

If you are a musician, looking at ways to expand your audience, or you desperately miss performing live, whether that be scheduled gigs or busking on street corners, I highly recommend that you consider Twitch. The environment on Twitch is so different than other platforms, and the process of becoming monetized seems so much easier. I have noticed some big names moving to Twitch, like Pedro the Lion and Sarah Silverman (of course she is gaming and joking around, not performing music, but still). On every Amazon Fire TV or device, Twitch is a channel option that people can choose and watch streamers from their televisions. It seems to me that this platform is only getting more popular and more accessible. The time is now!

Follow me on Twitch to get a notification when I go live
twitch.tv/mama_katie

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.