Living Off Twitch

2018-03-29T12:48:46+00:00January 19th, 2017|Gaming|

We’re always interested in stories that explore the work content creators on Twitch, YouTube, etc. put in to build their channels, so I appreciated this piece from ProfessorBroman on the increasing pressures some feel to stream all day, every day to keep their hard-earned audiences, especially early on. It paints how difficult it can be to pull away from work when you’re your own boss and everything in life can be framed as a personal profit/loss opportunity cost calculus.

We have, as an industry, defined “growing channels and audiences” as a numbers game of views and subscriptions. But maybe this is a self-limiting view of growth. Content creators are businesspeople, yes, but their business is entertainment. And we rarely talk about the qualitative output of talent, creativity and skill those channels produce – how engaging or expressive or unique a channel is vs. simply how big it is.

The demands of business and entertainment don’t always sync. Creativity requires more than passion. It requires experience. And inspiration. And rest. Gaining those things has a cost. Making room for a life outside of streaming may reduce your lifetime follower increases. It may lower your monthly subscription numbers and donations. You will run fewer ads. If you rely on your channel’s income for a living, those considerations matter.

But maybe it makes the product better. I’m reminded of a post from an improv teacher I admire on “emotional priorities” [edits for brevity]: “Don’t get so obsessed you get unhealthy. Value real friends over status… Take breaks. Miss things… now and then so you can re-charge. If your friend is getting married during the weekend that there are auditions… skip the audition.”

What I like about this advice is that it’s not about how to be the best performer, or do the most performances, or even make money. It’s advice for how to be a performer and not burn out after 2, 5, or 10 years. It recognizes that some of your value as a performer comes from what you do away from the audience.

I have no doubt there are streamers who can work without end while still producing great, creative work and growing their brand. But “stream all day, every day or lose everything” is not a mentality that can healthily sustain the streaming community in the long run. Like traditional artists, content creators have a responsibility to please their audiences, but also to surprise them, to defy their expectations, to give them what is needed over what they demand. And that requires thinking of “growing a channel” in a way that recognizes monetary success, but also values the physical and mental well-being of the host, the respectfulness of the audience, and the creativity of the product.

-T

(Image: Engadget)