How do you feel like your approach to music and the industry has changed and adapted throughout the pandemic?

I haven’t been playing live shows since COVID started. The plan was to move to a bigger city right as COVID hit and then that obviously changed everything. I shifted to Twitch on New Year’s Eve 2020 and started doing live streams two to three times a week.

I might have done that without COVID, because after playing with a band for so long, I wanted to be more self-reliant. [Twitch] made me focus more on a solo act and work on guitar more. There was already a trend toward musicians going digital, and I think COVID expedited things when no one could play for a year. I was thinking how can I make money when my regular revenue streams are gone? What are some new income streams I can put in? How can I connect with people online?

You’re obviously never going to match the energy of an in-person show, but Twitch is really cool because if I was doing this kind of set in-person it would be a restaurant bar, 3 hours cover set and stream from 2-4ish hours, but you can connect with people a lot more on Twitch because you have the chat and can talk to people on-on-one. Whereas if you are doing the same set in a bar or restaurant you can make more money, but no one is really interacting with you that much. Music is growing and Twitch has been making a point to growing their music section.

How does Twitch work for an artist? 

The monetization is either subscriptions and for affiliates – you are a streamer and when you reach a certain bench mark you are an affiliate and that’s when you  can start monetizing. But it’s really easy to get there. As an affiliate you get half of the subs—so it’s 5 dollars and you get $2.50 and twitch takes the other half. Once you get to partner—that’s 75 average viewers—you can renegotiate and have a personalized deal. 

As an affiliate you get money from subs and bits, which is Twitch currency. Each bit is one penny. You can take donations so I have my Venmo linked because it’s direct and you get all of it. In my experience as a small streamer, and this is generally true for most streamers, the money comes in waves. You get the subs and your regulars will donate a little bit every show but there is usually one person who will drop a ton of money randomly. There are raids where when your stream ends you can automatically send all your people to somebody else’s stream, it’s a cool way to connect with other people and grow your audience. You can also get money when somebody buys gift subs, which are when you buy subs and give them to other people. 

How do you feel your music style and inspiration for writing has developed throughout the pandemic?

I’ve definitely focused more on solo acoustic stuff. I write all my songs with just me and a guitar. The next album I’m working on is more of an acoustic, stripped-down album. There will be full instrumentation on it, but it is more folk singer songwriter than pop rock. It’s stripped back and I’m more self-sufficient as an artist. It’s one thing to have to wrangle a band together, but when you can’t see other people theTe biggest issue is becoming more self-reliant. 

The next album is more introspective. All of my music is a bit angsty, but whereas Spirits was existential and feeling lost in life, the next album is more my personal struggles with mental health and stuff like that. A lot of the songs come from when I was really depressed in college and I never thought would show those songs to anybody – they were just my therapy. Now that I’ve gotten out of that, I looked back on those songs and decided to build an album out of them. A little less than half of the album will be older songs from that dark place and the other half is more recent stuff, but it’s all in that same kind of tone.

What are your future plans?

On Twitch you have a song list and you put up every song you know and people can request from it.  I’ve gotten that to about 150 songs. I’ll definitely start playing restaurants and bars again because the money is better than Twitch, but i’ll keep streaming on Twitch as well. I would also love to do solo acoustic show and play with some other people for an actual show. I have gotten a lot better at finger picking and I have a stomp pad for percussion. I’m excited to build up a set where I can give a quality show where it’s just me and from there I can start working with other people. 

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