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.
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.
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!
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