20 January 2017

Get thee to Twitch, Nerd Musicians

I am now addicted to Twitch and I think everyone should start watching it. I didn't realize it wasn't just games (though I also like watching people stream games too). This is just an overview of how to get started; there are tons of great tutes for software troubleshooting so I didn't get into that.

But srs, I don't even know what I'm doing and I'm having a great time!

Bare minimum
Twitch account, streaming software, mic, camera, your smiling face

Twitch Intro
Okay, so get started by having a Twitch account. I'd also make sure you know what YouTube account to export to. Here's some vocab you'll want as you navigate watching stuff on Twitch:
  • Follow - use the "heart" icon to follow someone to see when they're online; you can also toggle an option to receive notifications when they go live
  • Host - Streamers who are offline can use their channel as a window to "host" another channel. It's considered props to host another channel, but it's not expected etiquette. There is a setting to make a list of streamers you would "auto host" when you're away from Twitch and automatically switch to the next channel when someone goes offline
  • Subscribe - Channels that are partnered with Twitch have a "sub" button. I don't know what the per cent break down is, but it confers a special badge and emote icons for subs. Applying for partnership is an option if your channel is popular enough by their metric
  • VOD - "video on demand" - Twitch stores your past broadcasts for a couple weeks. If someone misses your stream, they can watch the VOD on Twitch or you can download and upload it to YouTube
  • Highlight - VODs only stay on the server for a couple weeks, but highlights last forever. Clip your favorite parts into 1-5 minute highlights that will always be available on your channel. These are also easy to export to YouTube
  • Raid - When one streamer ends a broadcast, they will often look for another streamer to host on their channel, which adds their viewer count to the next channel. This is "raiding" and considered a fun way to give props. Many streamers also have a "raid call"; for example, Lady Orange's raid call is "Orange Crush!" Raids are a great community building and music discovery tool

Encouraged Etiquette
  • Shout out other streamers or regulars when you see them in chat
  • Thank hosts, autohosts, follows, and tips when you see the alert
  • Don't be afraid to start and stop songs; keep it light and fun! It's much more like hanging out in a dorm room than giving a concert
  • Pop in to other streams if/when you have time; there are a lot of the same regulars in ALL the music streamer chats and they rule

External Apps for Stream and Getting Tips
  • Stream Labs - a must. Link this to your PayPal to make hosting a tip jar much easier. It also has features that make adding chat and alerts to your final stream much easier!
  • Moobot - a bot to help with moderation and automation; for example, you can make a command (!social or !twitter) to quickly spit back a post about how to follow you on Twitter
  • Revlo - a service that lets you establish a non-monetary currency that generates over time for your channel that users can spend on rewards (example: RandomGirlSinging uses "tacos" to let people "buy" song requests or CharlyMinion uses "fluff" to "buy" a Discord chat server invite or a custom cross stitch pattern)
  • Song List - if you want to take requests, have a list people can pick from to make it easier. You can always try a new song live on stream, which is something RandomGirlSinging does to delightful effect. Many streamers use their own sites or Google Spreadsheets to host lists

A/V and Software
There is always better equipment. Many streamers also post their equipment as part of their profiles, but minimum you need a web cam and a mic. My next upgrade will be an audio interface so I can use more of my existing equipment (so many mics...) and analog mixer (Behringer XENYX 802 - $60).
Even an on board web cam mic can work if you're amplifying within the room with analog equipment or running it through a DAW. Of course, interfacing directly with the computer is the easiest!

 So for example, here's my current set up:
  • Camera: Logitech c920 - $60
  • Mic: Blue Snowball USB set to position 3 - $70 
  • Phones: Audio Technica ATH-M40x - $77, but honestly I don't monitor, I just love these headphones
  • Gooseneck boom from a mic stand
  • Daylight-toned lamp (get rid of them shadows!)
  • OBS Studio -freeware
  • Reaper - $60 after trial expires; I run my audio through this and use a noise reduction, compression, and light reverb plugins. I don't know jack about EQ but that's next.
  • Audacity - freeware, was using this before Reaper
Just remember that anything will work if you wiggle settings and compensate!

Fave Twitch Creative Streamers

Assorted Advice (from someone who doesn't really know)
  •  The best way to build an audience is to at least have a few regularly scheduled streams a week, even if you do more than that
  • If you stream irregularly (like me!) hype it on social media
  • If you build or import an audience, tips from busking obvs will increase but even without it it's a good way to meet new friends and fans. If you have albums for sale, push them! You could even make bot commands to alert what album the song is available on
  • Don't be afraid to screw up and try new stuff or talk too much; a lot of people even broadcast rehearsals and practice sessions; do whatever you feel like doing to be entertaining, even if you're mostly just playing for you 
  • People will request Ed Sheeran songs and play Wonderwall earnestly

And here's my first "real" stream as an example! Most people don't do makeup or costumes but I literally have it laying around and every little bit helps! I added a timestamped playlist to the video description and exported a few of the individual songs.