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Expanding Horizons: Livestreaming and the Art World

Welcome to Thalo's "Expanding Horizons"! In this article series, we will be exploring and discussing topics about artists that are either cutting edge, underground or under-reported in the creative world. Hopefully, these entries will help inspire you to explore new facets of your work and find new ways to make art work for you! 


Television used to be the sole proprietor of the "Broadcast" approach to producing content. You had to have connections, a location, and a myriad of other complicated (and expensive) resources to get on the air. Only until the last five years has the opportunity for people to broadcast on their own via the internet has become a legitimate way for creatives to develop their own virtual television stations. Thousands of artists around the world use live-streaming services to showcase themselves online on dozens of different platforms. In this article, we are going to dive into the art of live streaming, it's history, and its future. 


Livestreaming's roots in video games

The most popular live-streaming site, Twitch TV, initially launched as a platform designed to allow people to broadcast video game gameplay for others to watch. The success of this platform boosted Twitch to the top four most visited website in the world in 2014. Now, Twitch has over 2.2 Million broadcasters and over 15 Million daily active users. 

Video games and esports have become a phenomenon in pop culture, with the video game industry pulling in more revenue per year than all professional sports and modern entertainment combined (over $120 Billion in 2019 alone). And so, there has developed a sub-faction of people watching people play specific games like Call of Duty, Fortnite, and more became commonplace. 

A significant connection here is to recognize that the videogame industry is also one of the single largest employers of artists, and the Twitch community has always been very observant of this fact. 

As part of its expansion in 2015, Twitch launched an arts-focused section of the site for creatives to Livestream making artwork. To celebrate, they released a marathon of all 33 seasons of "The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross." The channel gained over 5.6 million views, and is still active today, repeating entire seasons on select days of the week. 

And so, artists of all backgrounds can live-stream their own programming on twitch to its audience. Twitch can partner with artists that gain a large following, allowing profit sharing and income based on their subscriptions and revenue. This practice has allowed for Twitch to be a monetary platform for creatives, not just a place to showcase one's work. 

Twitch also functions as a haven for independent musicians and DJ's to perform, practice, and display their skills as well. Many musical artists will take requests, do custom shows on twitch, and will do weekly programming surrounding their work as well. 


Beyond Twitch 

With the advent of live-streaming, all platforms have embraced this form of content creation to some degree. You can "go live" on almost all major social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Google, Vimeo, Youtube, etc.).  How they operate or benefit the user depends on the platform. 

There are many platforms dedicated to live-streams as a primary form of content creation, like Periscope, Daily Motion, SmashCast TV, and others, all with their own takes on the independently organized television station concept. 

You can also read up on more of these kinds of interactive efforts in our "Making Art Work: Community at a Distance" series here: 

Part One: Going Live (Talking about live-streaming services and artists)

Part Two: Making Sales online

Part Three: Online Galleries 

Part Four: Taking Commissions


The tools of live-streaming

Depending on how you want to get started, there are a few different ways an artist has to create interactivity with patrons. They can "go live" and make art on the spot. Artists can also speak/lecture/teach on camera, as well as take questions from chat ("chat" in this case is the chatroom that accompanies most platforms where users can ask questions and talk to the artist/each other. This feature helps people forge a community around the artist). 

Artists can, in addition to possibly monetizing their content through business partnerships with Twitch directly, can also facilitate donations from viewers, as well as host giveaways and other interactive ways to promote and plug their products. 

Many artists will do a "hangout" style session, where they will work on a piece of art, take questions or talk with watchers in chat. 

Many creatives organize their work to grow their audiences and to establish a direct connection to their fans. As 2020 continues to grow into seclusion for safety, live-streaming is becoming an even more appealing way for artists to connect with the outside world. 

Hopefully, this is informative to you! is there a platform you'd like us to discuss? Did we miss anything or get anything wrong? Let us know in the comments, and we can update and talk about it. 

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