In the last five to ten years, the live streaming as an entertainment industry has exponentially grown. At first, live streaming mostly related to playing videogames, but it now has evolved into an entertainment industry with a much larger audience than expected. On platforms such as Twitch’s “In Real Life,” abbreviated IRL, content creators now livestream many subjects: drawing, painting, singing, producing music, and more. These services allow content creators to earn a living by entertaining their supporters while doing what they love the most.
Do you think you have what it takes to become a streamer? If so, there are many steps to follow, terms to learn, and tips to employ to give you a boost while you explorer your career as a content creator.
The first thing you must decide as a streamer is which platform you will want to stream on, the leaders being Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Gaming (which absorbed Microsoft’s streaming platform, which suddenly shut down mid-June).
Launched in 2011, and acquired by Amazon in 2014, Twitch has become the leading platform used to watch esports, tournaments, and supporting other live streamers. The last six months of Twitch have had an average of about 2 million people concurrently viewing people live, racking up billions of hours in time watched. The top streaming category is Just Chatting, where entertainers go to watch videos, produce music, sing karaoke, draw, paint, and more – all while interacting with their viewers. The other top categories usually belong to the popular videogames, such as League of Legends, Fortnite, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive, to name just a few. Each one of these categories can have anywhere from ten thousand to five-hundred thousand viewers watching live.
YouTube is mostly known for being the largest platform for online video hosting, but it also has the option for creators to stream their content live on their channels. Creators who have already established their brand on YouTube may find that it is easier to continue by staying on the YouTube platform.
Mixer was Microsoft’s streaming platform, originally launched in 2016 as Beam. Mixer has a variety of fun and interesting features, such as interactive sound effects with viewers, as well as integration with some of Microsoft-developed games. However, due to being a smaller platform, it was more difficult for streamers to make money and actual streams were a lower quality. Facebook Gaming has already made a name for itself as a videogame streaming platform, but it is yet to be determined if it will attract creators to their platform from the unexpected Mixer shutdown.
Ultimately, Twitch leads in being the industry standard to live streaming. Its plethora of user-friendly features and the largest global audience makes Twitch the go-to option for new streamers. Mixer and YouTube have been growing, mostly through acquiring streamers and content creators from other platforms.
From Hobby to Career
The hardest jump to make as a hobby live streamer is to decide whether you believe you can take your hobby and turn it into a career. It is very risky to go all-in on a hobby when the guarantee for payout is very low.
Twitch is the easiest platform to begin a streaming career on, mostly because it has programs to help content creators grow their brands. The first program is Twitch Affiliate. Once a creator meets the requirements for Twitch Affiliate, they can start making tips and viewers can subscribe to them for a more premium experience. As the creator keeps growing their brand, they can apply to become a Twitch Partner. Twitch Partners have the most stability in their streaming career, as it is much more difficult for an Affiliate to become a Partner. Just because the Partner requirements are achieved does not mean Partnership status. There is an assessment of your presence by Twitch to see if they want to partner with you. But once a content creator gets Partnered, they often can find sponsorships from companies which is a large portion of their income.
- Followers: 50+
- Time Investment: 7+ streams on different days in the last 30 days, with 8+ hours in the last 30 days.
- Average of 3 concurrent viewers or more over the last 30 days
- Time Investment: 12+ streams on different days within the last 30 days, with 25+ hours in the last 30 days.
- Average of 75 concurrent viewers or more over the last 30 days.
Without getting sponsorships, YouTube livestreaming follows the same monetization program that regular videos have, allowing users to receive payment after 10,000 subscribers. YouTube creators can also be eligible for channel verification after getting 100,000 subscribers. Channel verification does not offer any different features, only serves to prevent impersonation of the channel.
Facebook Gaming has only rolled out monetization via fan subscriptions to a small group of beta streamers. Facebook has a Creators path for streamers to follow, but this does not guarantee monetization at this time.
- Account Age: 2+ weeks
- Followers: 100+
- Time Investment: Stream gaming content for at least 2 days in the prior 2 weeks.
- Admin of the page must be 18+
Ultimately, Twitch seems to be the most viable alternative at the time this article was published, as it’s the most reliable platform out there dedicated for streaming. When considering Mixer’s uncertain transition into Facebook gaming and YouTube’s lack of partnership, Twitch seems to be the most effective way for a new streamer to start out.
What You’ll Need
- Computer: A computer that will be just streaming does not have to be filled with the latest components. However, if you are wanting to simultaneously play games and stream them, a computer with a high-end graphics card, fast processor, and at least 16GB of RAM is required. If you want to capture gameplay from another device, a capture card is needed. These allow the computer to capture the display of the device that is plugged into it.
- Camera: A camera with a resolution of 720p is the minimum requirement for streaming. Cameras are not necessarily required to stream videogames but showing a face cam has become standard practice online.
- Microphone: though most headsets have microphones, these are generally not good quality in comparison to most external microphones. Consider getting an external USB microphone with a wind guard instead.
- Green Screen: not entirely necessary, but having a green screen can protect your privacy, and it is a simple way to make your stream look much more professional.
- Software: A broadcasting studio software is helpful while streaming and Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is the best software to use. It is free and open source, allowing you to finely tune it to your needs.
Tips for Success
- Start a streaming schedule and stick to it. By setting a time where your viewers can consistently know to watch you, will keep your average viewership high.
- Interact with your viewers. What separates the streaming industry from the video industry is the live interaction with viewers.
- Have a backup plan. Technology is notoriously known for breaking for sometimes no reason at all. Plan to have backup equipment available in case this happens.
- Add moderators to your stream. Choose people you know and trust to be moderators, to keep an eye out on the chat to remove anything offensive or vulgar.
- Harness the power of social media to post your brand. The more places and people who know that you are streaming, the more likely they are to come watch and support you.
Author: Quinn Johnson
Facebook Gaming. (2020). Facebook Gaming Creators. Retrieved June 23, 2020, from https://www.facebook.com/fbgaminghome/creators/levelup
Twitch. (2020). Twitch- Joining the Affiliate Program. Retrieved June 19, 2020, from https://help.twitch.tv/s/article/joining-the-affiliate-program?language=en_US
Twitch. (2020). Twitch – Partnership. Retrieved June 19, 2020, from https://help.twitch.tv/s/article/achievements?language=en_US
TwitchTracker. (2020). Twitch Statistics & Charts. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://twitchtracker.com/statistics