Interview with Twitch Music Streamer Arilyna
Her history with video games and piano
Arilyna began her journey with video games during the era of the first 3D consoles (Playstation 1 and Nintendo 64) and the Game Boy Color. This early exposure set the stage for her deepening interest in gaming which persisted for years. When she reached middle school, her attention shifted towards PC gaming, which was marked by countless hours spent playing Runescape with friends and siblings, often stretching late into the night, even on school days. Her passion didn’t wane as she grew older; it followed her into university and continued to be a significant pastime after she started working. Her taste in games is diverse: she has a particular fondness for horror titles like Alien: Isolation and Dying Light. She also became a big fan of League of Legends after university, a game she has played consistently since then.
Music also played a central role in her upbringing. She was given a toy keyboard as a Christmas present around the age of 6 and immediately fell in love with it. About a year later, after much persistent begging, she began piano lessons. These lessons became a decade-long educational journey, concluding in her first year of college. Beyond formal lessons, she continued to refine her piano skills independently through self-learning. A significant portion of her musical development occurred during her time as a streamer, where she combined her love for music with the interactivity of live broadcasts.
How did she get into streaming?
In 2015, she began streaming as a way to connect with others and build a community around shared interests. She dedicated her broadcasts primarily to playing and streaming League of Legends. Initially, the channel had only a handful of viewers, and she didn't view streaming as a viable career path—it was more of a fun way to engage with new people. At the time, League of Legends wasn't as popular as it is now, resulting in lengthy queue times for matches. To make the most of these waiting periods, she started to play the piano. Her viewers responded positively to these musical interludes, encouraging her to play more regularly, often at the end of matches or as a closing segment to her streams. Motivated by her viewers' enthusiasm for more music content, she gradually shifted her channel's focus to include more piano music.
Initially, Twitch was predominantly a platform for video game streaming. The platform's dynamic began to change around 2016 with the introduction of the IRL (In Real Life) category. This allowed her to showcase content that wasn't strictly gaming-related. She transitioned her channel to the IRL category, which better suited the type of content she was creating, and started to focus more on music than gaming. She continued to grow her community in this category.
Her shift to full-time streaming occurred in 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic. With more people spending time online, Twitch's popularity surged, and so did her channel's viewership. Seizing the opportunity, she turned her part-time passion into a full-time career in streaming. Twitch introduced a dedicated Music category back in 2018, but it wasn't until 2020 that the platform started promoting it more actively. Realizing there was a Music category, she slowly transitioned her audience over there.
Her channel and community
Her channel operates differently from many others; she prefers not to talk much during her streams, and her viewership is generally more mature. She and her viewers have cultivated a very close-knit community. In fact, much of the gear she uses for streaming has been generously provided by her viewers. It's because of this incredibly supportive and loyal community that she's able to stream full-time. Every time she goes live, she can count on sustainable revenue, thanks to her supportive community.
Many of her viewers have been with her for years, finding a sort of therapeutic value in her music. It's deeply moving, like the story of a cancer patient who found solace and support in her channel while undergoing chemotherapy and thankfully survived. Playing the piano is also a form of therapy for her; it helps her cope with her anxiety. So, when she streams, it's a mutually beneficial experience—she gets to share the music that soothes her with viewers who find enjoyment and comfort in it as well. She keeps in touch with her viewers consistently, always chatting on Discord and building genuine friendships.
What sets her apart from other channels is that she does not have a song list. She enjoys the challenge and thrill of sight-reading and playing live, on the spot. She never practices beforehand; she simply plays. The music she creates is improvised, flowing out of her spontaneously. It's like the intricate art of socializing—hard to explain and impossible to teach. It's an innate talent. Every time she plays a song, it's different, whether she changes the tempo or the style, ensuring that her community always experiences something new.
Her brand and how she obtained success
She has always placed a high value on consistency and showing up for her community. Sticking to a schedule is important to her, as she works hard to ensure that every stream is enjoyable for everyone who tunes in. Now in her eighth year of streaming, she believes a big part of her success comes from staying genuine and true to herself. Her repertoire mainly consists of video game and film music. Her ability to improvise has played a significant role in her journey. It's the combination of skill and consistency that has brought her success. She focuses on always improving herself, not trying to keep up with what is currently popular or “meta” on Twitch, thereby embracing her uniqueness.
When it comes to branding, she keeps it simple—she just plays. For her, it's all about caring for the community and establishing a connection with her viewers. She makes it a point to get to know the regulars on her stream.
Does she make her own music?
She has released only one song publicly so far, which was part of meeting a charity milestone. This original song can be found on her Spotify channel or on YouTube.
While she does make music and occasionally plays her own compositions on stream, most of her compositions remain private, as they are personal to her, akin to diary entries. She cherishes the personal and fulfilling aspects of making music. In the future, she will definitely be releasing more music when she is ready to share it with the world.
When she first started streaming, what was the most challenging aspect for her?
Attracting and maintaining a viewer base on Twitch was a significant challenge for her when she first started streaming. Building a loyal audience requires time and consistent effort. Viewers might be drawn to her channel initially, but she learned that creating a community that keeps coming back demands engaging content and a strong connection with the audience.
Another complexity she faced was navigating parasocial relationships, which are one-sided relationships where viewers feel a bond with the streamer without a personal relationship. She realized it was equally important to establish boundaries to protect her privacy and personal life. Without these boundaries, there's a real risk, as seen with some streamers who have encountered issues with stalkers. While being open and building a rapport with the community is important, she understood the necessity of boundary-setting.
Her primary support comes from her community on Discord. This has been her mainstay in dealing with these challenges. Additionally, she turns to groups like the Twitch Women’s Guild for further support. The Guild, a supportive network with close to 300 members, is instrumental in offering support and fostering a safe environment for women on the platform.
Her streaming gear
For her streaming setup, she relies on a combination of high-quality gear and equipment that ensure her streams run smoothly and her music sounds its best:
- Powerful PC: A robust computer is essential to her setup. She needs a PC that can handle everything from gaming and streaming to video processing and music production.
- Reliable Audio Interface: She uses a MOTU audio interface, essential for high-fidelity sound. It converts the digital signal from her electronic instruments into a format that her PC can use, and it's crucial for professional audio quality.
- Digital Pianos: Her Yamaha and Roland digital pianos are key instruments in her performances, chosen for their affordability, minimalistic design, and ability to emulate an acoustic piano, from the weighted keys to the wide range of dynamics and tone.
- High-Quality Virtual Studio Technology (VST): Native Instruments Kontakt 7 is her go-to for realistic instrument sounds. It's a powerful sampler that allows her to integrate a wide variety of instrument libraries into her performances.
- Elgato Products: For stream management and reading sheet music, she uses Elgato's Stream Deck and Stream Pedal. The Stream Deck allows her to switch scenes, launch media, adjust audio, and more with the touch of a button, while the Stream Pedal helps her turn pages when reading sheet music, providing her hands-free control during performances.
These pieces of gear collectively create a professional and efficient streaming environment that allows her to focus on the performance and interaction with her audience.
How often does she stream and how does she balance streaming with her day-to-day life?
The great thing about streaming for her is the freedom to set her own schedule, which provides the balance she needs. Her streaming sessions are primarily at night; she goes live for three hours every other night. Her typical streaming days are Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, from 6 PM to 9 PM Pacific Standard Time. This schedule, advised by her primary doctor, helps prevent overfatigue in her hands and arms, a concern as she had to attend occupational therapy due to overuse. Her doctor is cautious about the potential development of carpal tunnel syndrome if she plays the piano too much. Therefore, this timetable allows her to maintain her energy and passion for music without risking her health.
When she’s not streaming, her time is still filled with activities that support her well-being and enhance her music career. She studies music, practices meditation, participates in yoga, works out, and does meal prep. This holistic routine helps keep everything in her life balanced while working from home.
Her advice to newcomers?
If you're considering starting a streaming career, here's her advice:
- Approach streaming as a hobby first, not a get-rich-quick career move. It's important to start with a passion for what you're doing rather than the financial aspect. This ensures you enjoy the process and stay true to what you love, without the pressure of making money from it.
- Resist the urge to invest heavily in expensive streaming equipment right out of the gate. Begin with what you have, and gradually upgrade your setup as you grow and learn more about your specific needs and preferences.
- Try not to focus on the live viewer count while you're streaming. Fixating on the numbers can be mentally exhausting and may discourage you, especially in the early days. Instead, focus on creating good content and engaging with those who do show up. Your audience will grow with time and consistency.
Her most interesting thing that’s happened because of streaming?
One of the notable aspects of her streaming experience is the opportunity to interact with people from various parts of the world. Through her streams, she connects with individuals from different backgrounds, which adds a unique and enriching dimension to her work.
Additionally, she appreciates the potential of her music to positively influence her audience, albeit in a modest way. She often hears from viewers about how her music brings them a sense of comfort or joy. Knowing that her music can have a small but meaningful impact on someone’s day, possibly even offering a moment of relief or peace, is something she finds quite special. It's a subtle yet rewarding aspect of her streaming journey – the ability to share her passion for music and, in turn, bring a little bit of positivity to people around the world.
Her plans for the future?
She's in it for the long haul; the amazing relationships she's formed and the joy she gets from being her own boss are too valuable to her. She's achieved many milestones already, and playing live in person is a goal she'd like to realize someday. However, the comfort and familiarity of playing from her own home holds a special place in her heart. She intends to continue streaming from there as long as possible, cherishing the freedom and personal connections that come with this unique career path.
Patrick Yu is a Senior Project Manager at Level Interactive and has 8 years of experience writing business, legal, lifestyle, gaming, and technology articles. He is a significant contributor to Acer Corner and is currently based in Taipei, Taiwan.