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18 months ago, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Twitch was perfectly poised for hype. The Amazon-owned platform satellite at the nexus that several various music/tech trends: The rise of livestreaming amidst the death of touring, the climb of direct-to-fan engagement models amidst the unsustainability of streaming income and also the climb of social gaming together a new interactive canvas for building online communities.

In a issue of simply a couple of months in spring and summer 2020, average weekly concurrent viewership in Twitch’s Music group went up end 4x, top to significant artists favor Logic signing seven-figure exclusive deals with the platform. Also with the return the IRL shows, Twitch has stayed liven inking a slate that music deals in an effort to stay relevant to the industry long-term — most notably with licensing and also strategic partnerships with legal rights holders favor Warner Music Group and also the NMPA.

But how well is music actually faring top top Twitch on the artist level? A year-and-a-half into this hype, perform we have substantial data on how much the top musicians are making top top the platform, and also how it could compare come their revenue on other channels like audio streaming services? and also generally speaking, just how do we move past just higher-level strategic conversations about Twitch’s duty in the music industry, right into a much more granular expertise of how Twitch impacts individual artists’ livelihoods?

Well, we’re in “luck,” if girlfriend can contact it that, due to the fact that Twitch suffered from a 125GB data leak two weeks back that exposed not only the platform’s entire source code and user account info (have you readjusted your password yet?), but also earnings details for numerous thousands of the platform’s height streamers — including musicians — from august 1, 2019 to October 1, 2021. Every the revenue info was posted ~ above a third-party site referred to as twitchearnings.com the has due to the fact that been take away down, yet I was able to scribble down the names and earnings the the top 50 or therefore music accounts on the list before it disappeared. Screenshot of revenue for the peak 100 streamers in its entirety are still accessible on Twitter.

This leads us to our data points because that this week:

The height 10 music accounts on Twitch by direct earnings make between $50,000 and $400,000 a year from channel subscriptions, ads and Twitch bit donations. The vast majority of this accounts belong come independent artists, and there is nearly no correlation between an artist’s Spotify followers and also their Twitch earnings.– an anonymous, 125GB data leak from Twitch

Here’s a more detailed perform of some of the top music accounts on Twitch (which I also laid the end in this tweet), with web links to their corresponding profiles:

As usual, let’s address the asterisks in this data prior to moving on.

Firstly, this leaked earnings info from Twitch includes only earnings acquired directly from the platform, which includes channel subscriptions, ads and Twitch little bit donations. If illuminating, this list of earnings sources at some point paints an incomplete photo of streamers’ overall businesses, due to the fact that a huge portion of their revenue may come from external the ecosystem of straight platform payouts. Because that instance, streamers can receive a large proportion of your revenue from real-time donations exterior of Twitch (such as through PayPal, Venmo, Cash application or StreamLabs), indigenous brand sponsorship transaction brokered off-platform and/or from on-demand clips of livestreams on various other platforms prefer YouTube that tempt their own separate ad and sponsorship income. (Some top game streamers prefer pokimane have talked out about this diversification in a helpful means in irradiate of the data leak.)

Sources tell me that in an aggressive bid to construct up their music catalog, Twitch will likewise pay choose artists as much as $250/hour in added incentives on height of tips, subs and ads in exchange because that streaming routinely on the platform. This incentive-driven deals are obviously negotiated behind close up door doors, and also are not factored into the leaked revenue info — i beg your pardon is presumably why artists like Logic can sign “seven-figure” deals but not actually make seven figures in direct platform earnings in a year.

Last but not least, there was no data leaked alongside revenue info top top how many times or hrs each streamer had actually broadcast over the time period, which would have given us a more helpful metric of every streamer’s average direct earnings every hour. For instance, maybe one of the top artists on our list made the bulk of their revenue end the food of only a couple of different streams, together opposed come artists prefer The8BitDrummer or Kenny win who room streaming almost every day.

All that said, this data still offers a yes, really productive beginning point because that a discussion around what that really like to do a living as an artist top top Twitch, or on any type of livestreaming platform for the matter. In particular, I want to to mark a duality that could initially feel like a contradiction. The music livestreaming economy undeniably favors independent artists — however it’s really complicated to do a sustainable living from livestreaming, with a power regulation that quiet sees the optimal 1% commanding the bulk of revenue.

Twitch is still a gamer’s civilization — and the tail is looooong

It’s pretty tremendous that essentially no major-label artists room on the perform of countless streamers whose Twitch income were leaked. Just like with other locations of music/tech prefer music NFTs, artist sector share in livestreaming is the literal reverse of what we watch in recorded music, through independent artists taking up the majority of revenue.

That said, just due to the fact that indie artists overcome Twitch’s music charts doesn’t mean the playing ar is necessarily an ext level or equitable. The Wall Street Journal found that the peak 1% of payment Twitch streamers command over 50% the all straight platform revenue, and that just 5% of streamers have made over $1,000 from direct platform income so much in 2021. This might be partially because of livestreaming’s as whole discoverability problem, where there’s boosting amount the noise but small to no infrastructure to help audiences sift v it.

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This is actually a slightly friendlier power-law dynamic than that in music streaming, whereby the top 1% of artist command 90% of every streams, follow to Alpha Data. Yet it’s vital to remember that financially, Twitch is quiet a gamer’s world: according to the data leak, the height gamer on the platform renders ~10x much more money from direct payouts per year 보다 the height music artist ~ above the platform. Moreover, the peak artist ~ above Twitch makes 8–10x much more money from direct earnings per year 보다 the artist just 10 slot down. Music is hidden deep inside Twitch’s lengthy tail, making increase mobility even more an overwhelming for the sector.

Twitch is not simply a superfan organization — that a consistency business

In April 2021, veteran music economist Will page published a longform report referred to as Twitch Rockonomics, which provides a lot of beneficial context about what differentiates Twitch from other music platforms. Web page points the end that unlike, say, on Spotify or apologize Music, the unit of artist/fan engagement ~ above Twitch often tends to it is in longer-form contents (i.e. Livestreams covering several hrs long), with laptops rather 보다 mobile gadgets as the primary usage vehicles. Moreover, the weekly mean user on Twitch spends virtually 16 hours on the communication every week, versus about six hours each because that the typical weekly user top top YouTube and also Spotify.

And some of the most energetic music streamers top top Twitch earn as much as $0.40 per hour watched by fans, much more than dual the around $0.20 that an artist would earn from a pan streaming their brochure on Spotify for an hour directly (and this is suspect zero middlemen prefer distributors or labels taking a cut). If friend think about ideas choose the an ext efficient monetization that fandom — i.e. Being able to realize the whole spectrum of worth that fans might see in an artist or might be willing to pay because that music —the situation for livestreaming matches other develops of digital income becomes clear.

What page did no dive that deeply into, and what I want to close v today, is the prestige of consistency because that success and growth right into the top rankings ~ above Twitch.

Because livestreaming arguably monetizes superfandom, you can think the music celebrities with flourishing superfan businesses somewhere else (e.g. Cameo videos, tourism merch booths) would perform equally fine on Twitch. Yet in reality, there’s virtually no correlation between an artist’s social following and their Twitch earnings. Because that instance, together of publishing this article, The8BitDrummer, the peak earning artist ~ above Twitch, has literally zero monthly Spotify listeners. And also according come the data leak, number of seemingly arbitrarily cover artists, DJs and also improvisational artist with small to no Spotify audience — such together Jonathan Ong, Sereda, Johnny and also Heidi, SympulsMusic and Miss Shelton — earn much more money from straight Twitch income per year than Insomniac, among the world most created electronic brands.

From a revenue perspective, success is much less around an artist capitalizing on their existing audience dimension elsewhere, and more about an artist engaging consistently over a long duration of time.

All the the above-mentioned smaller artists — along with commercially better-known artists who earn a lot native Twitch, prefer Kenny Beats, HANA, knxwledge and also Illmind — stream on the platform at least three to four times a main on average. And especially because that the likes of The8BitDrummer and Kenny Beats, it would certainly be reductive come categorize their Twitch content specifically as just “music streams.” castle full-on variety shows the showcase the artists’ personalities, society networks and adjacent interests far beyond just record or performing music alone.

This is a level of consistency and openness the artists who are gearing up for the return of in-person shows more than likely will not be able to achieve, specifically at the major-label level. The not favor bigger artists and their teams don’t recognize the prominence of consistency; just ask any kind of marketer around “best practices” for social media and also digital advertising, and they’ll tell girlfriend consistency gradually is the name of the game. The worry is that livestreaming is highly vulnerable, labor-intensive work; as with with in-person touring, the artist really demands to it is in directly, fully present and engaged end the duration of a Twitch stream in order because that the endure to be worth it for fans.

At the threat of sounding a little cliché, from the artist’s standpoint, livestreaming as a service mandates livestreaming together a lifestyle. In the context of Twitch, livestreaming in ~ its most abundant is not just a stand-in for live shows, however rather an totally new type of social media that needs nurturing because that the long term.

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Independent artists, ever the nimble beforehand adopters, room coming out on height for now. Yet the data leak also suggests that together a proven business model for the elevation music sector in ~ scale, Twitch has actually yet come prove itself.