By Daniel Paiz
When you’re 16 years old, making beats definitely sounds like one of many solid options to pursue. However when it’s 18 years later and you’re still doing it? That’s dedication that too often is missed when checking on an artist to see what they’re doing right now. Enter Slot-A, a producer and DJ who in his teenage years knew that music is the path for him.
The music industry requires a lot of work. Oftentimes this leads one to figuring out who they are and what message they want to convey to audiences. Experience isn’t something that can be bought. While still learning and growing today, the Chicago-based creative has plenty of insight for musicians all across the experience spectrum, as I learned in our video interview.
How creativity has changed during the pandemic
There’s an organic, unplanned element to time in the studio. Sometimes, something is created because somebody you might have heard or appreciate is two studios down from yours. Other times, in passing you bump into someone, spark a conversation, and new ideas incubate. But with COVID-19 making in-person recording sessions few and far between, chance happenings are far fewer than before.
“”So much of the opportunity of music is the mistake. The mistake, or…randomly going into shit isn’t a thing right now. Everyone’s coming into it fully prepared and not really vulnerable.”Slot-A
Lacking that communal aspect is taking away organic opportunities that might’ve manifested more readily prior to COVID-19. There are of course opportunities to link virtually, but they just aren’t the same. It’s tough to plan being open and unprepared when the virtual versions of studio sessions or meetings focus on being ready to go. Being prepared isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there’s just a void of sorts. One solution to not having that organic in-person experience is adding a streaming audience; those views might encourage creative risk taking.
Imagine just being on a fly on the wall in the studio. You know how much access that is? That’s so much access, like if you’re a young indie band or a young R&B singer, you play guitar and you normally build your songs from demos…
When I release a single or when I release an album? I can give you every step of the way.Slot-A
Another opportunity to build remotely is there, waiting to be fully utilized. It’s interesting to see how connected and yet isolated society is at this moment in history. Previous time periods that had far fewer ways to interact with each other didn’t seem to have this feeling of isolation.
Luckily one of those tools to combat isolation, build community, and learn in general takes the form of a certain streaming site.
Twitch has different levels
Twitch is the streaming service that people with all kinds of interests have flocked to. Once a gamer’s paradise, the service has expanded out into music performances, talk shows, cooking shows–you name it, Twitch has it. Deejays of various genres seem to be the largest new group of creatives. There’s plenty of viewers to be had, but the value is different depending on how large your audience was prior to streaming. That’s part of why artists with still-growing fanbases are streaming more, and for most it’s not because of the earnings made from viewers.
“The real resource is having someone find you for the first time, and the pleasure they got from that. Connecting with somebody because of an inside joke you read in the chat, and you had a funny reaction to it.”Slot-A
Even in 2021 where number of followers, subscribers and the like are still a supposed measure of success, those measurements don’t tell the overall picture. Somehow in all of the algorithms and data mining that can be used to help you grow, people have kind of forgotten about building lasting connections. While it might take longer to do so, deeper connections feel like they might have a lasting impact versus the larger numbers that turn the high numbers into a faceless audience.
That isn’t to say that building up your numbers isn’t important, but it’s more about the method in which you choose to do so. Balancing how you build an organic, long-lasting audience with the numbers is the best way to grow. From what Slot A has realized so far, Twitch has its own pathway to growing your audience.
Breaking it down a bit more
The hierarchy in terms of conversion is way different than it is on any other social platform.Slot A
Customer Relationship Management, or CRM for short, is all about managing your interactions with customers now, as well as from the past and potential future clients. Sales departments have CRM apps to figure out how to build on those interactions. You and I might not think about it, but it happens on social media as well. Twitch is one such place where it occurs constantly at different levels, as Slot breaks it down:
When you think of social it has the same premise. You have people who are aware of you, people who are following you, people who are lurking…we’re going up the hierarchy now. Then you have people who like. Above that you have people who comment.Slot-A
What intrigues me about this information is that anyone using social media totally realizes this is what’s happening. And yet while it makes sense, it can then become something a viewer is turned away from or doesn’t want to continue to participate in when it comes to the next levels in the hierarchy. With constant social media usage though, that participation almost feels natural; so much so that users make it to the higher levels of the hierarchy before opting out.
Above that you have people you can get to move from this platform to another one, or to do something, that’s kind of where you run into the term “influencer.” So on Twitch, you have people who came in on the raid and are just watching or lurking. Then you have people in the comments, and then you have people who are giving bits. And above that you have people who subscribe, that’s a financial decision. I want you to continue to do this and upgrade your equipment.Slot-A
These levels are the backbone of Twitch and are why some people who are gamers have full-time careers as streamers. This isn’t new, either. When gaming tournaments are held in actual stadiums, that should tell you how big streaming is. For music, it’s not at the same level but the hierarchy still remains in how listeners interact with the streamers. There is one more thing that appears to be the most impactful part of streaming music, at least from Slot-A’s perspective: Emotional Economy.
Once you invest in Twitch, Twitch will invest in you.Slot-A
It’s not a term I’ve heard before but it makes sense. It can include buying something spontaneously because you were advertised to online. It could be your friends attending an event and their excitement and communal event has you figuring out how to join in. It can also be how an artist and fan build an understanding of sorts.
How you build a connection with someone will likely determine the trajectory of said bond. Now bigger artists might have an easier time of moving merchandise due to the marketing strategies put behind them. But, for artists still growing and connecting on a person-to-person level, personal connections speak volumes louder than generic messaging and spamming content. That can include personal messages, handwritten notes, or perhaps playing music someone requested (which DJs I’ve learned through Twitch despise most of the time).
If I know attention gets me a resource, if I know talent gets me a resource, If I know just being a person who gives a fuck about other people gets me a resource, I feel like that changes things.Slot-A
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to pursuing your passions or your dreams. A big lesson learned from this interview is that we’ve encountered a lot of what we need to be successful before, we just have to put all of it together. It will not be easy. It is also going to take a lot of different kinds of resources. However, how you treat people will play a big role in your outcome.
I think people are getting very humbling lessons in the fact that this shit doesn’t change your situation, doesn’t change who you are until you change how you care about other people.Slot-A