When I was clubbing on Saturday, I bumped into a mate and we did the “Haven’t seen you for… how long?” As with every similar conversation, we had to add in the Covid Years.
“Must be a year? Two?”
“Nah, add in Covid...”
“Oh, yeah... four, five years?”
The luckiest of us have had two years stolen from our lives. The unluckiest, their actual lives. I fall in between those two in that I’m still here but my health and my musical life have been permanently altered. But then, if you’re reading this, you’re a musician or a DJ and you’ll know what happened to nightclubs, and small venues, and what is still happening.
In October 2020, coming up on around seven months of lockdown, I was going doolally. Couldn’t go clubbing, couldn’t DJ, couldn’t gig. I work from home and live alone: my social life was nuked. So, I decided to start streaming on Twitch.
Though people think Twitch is all about gaming, I knew there were already heaps of music streamers on there, mostly treating it as a live gig where they’d take requests. I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to demystify music creation and production. So, I read up on the tech side (thank you, YouTube), got OBS working, hooked up a not‑great webcam and did my first stream.
And I loved it.
I didn’t get millions of subscribers. It hasn’t made me filthy rich. I am not a streaming success story, I am not influential or even slightly notable. What streaming helped me do is connect with people, to engage in some form of dialogue that I enjoy and still value now, long after quarantine has ended.
What streaming helped me do is connect with people, to engage in some form of dialogue that I enjoy and still value now, long after quarantine has ended.
My streams last around two hours. My whole shtick is to create something from scratch, often using just one synth plug‑in or piece of gear. It’s fun and there’s a certain pressure having people watch you create that is similar to some of the thrill of gigging. I love what streaming does for my creativity: all of my last album came from pieces I started online and it’s sobering to wonder if it would have existed otherwise.
The best part of it all is that I’ve got to know some of my online audience and learn from them — it’s been a true exchange of ideas. And, yes, some have complained bitterly that I’ve cost them money because they’ve learned about certain gear from me. Sorry!
If you’ve ever felt as isolated as I did, check out Twitch or YouTube. You may think your area of music is arcane or unpopular but the Internet is a big, big place. There are people who would love to see you create music or play live, whatever you care to do. And you’ll learn as much from them as they do from you.