More than 35,000 people are projected to swarm this weekend’s TwitchCon in San Diego, up 75 percent from last year’s TwitchCon in San Francisco. But it won’t just be gamers attending the three-day convention.
Jostling among the gaming enthusiasts this year are visual artists, designers and musicians, including Steve Aoki, T-Pain and Darude. What Aoki and other artists have discovered is that Twitch devotees also make great music fans, particularly for EDM.
“There’s a deep cultural link between EDM music and gamers,” Aoki said in an interview. “Gamers use EDM music while they’re gaming. Twitch lets us go straight to the source.”
Aoki, who will also be performing Saturday night (Oct. 1) at a Twitch event, represents the leading edge of Amazon.com Inc.’s ambitions to broaden Twitch into a livestreaming platform for all sorts of creative entertainment. When Amazon purchased Twitch in 2014 for $970 million, the platform had 55 million users — the vast majority of them either viewing or livestreaming gameplay. Today, Amazon is looking to grow Twitch’s audience by appealing to other types of broadcasters.
To do that, this year’s conference has a section called Creative Corner, a “celebration of the creative process, whether it’s cooking a meal, making a sculpture or composing a song,” said a Twitch spokesman, who added that the platform’s Creative category, a catch-all for non-gaming streams, is among the company’s fastest growing.
Among those broadcasting under Twitch’s Creative category is Deadmau5, who has livestreamed more than 115 sessions, some lasting more than three hours, largely from his recording studio.
Aoki used Twitch to livestream Aoki’s Playhouse at Pacha Ibiza in 2014, drawing 280,000 uniques viewers and 400,000 total views. Last year, Aoki launched a sub-label under Dim Mak (an EDM label he created 20 years ago) called New Noise, featuring copyright-free music that Twitch streamers can use during their broadcasts.
“New Noise is a copyright free catalog of music for Twitch streamers,” Aoki said. “For us, it’s our contribution to the Twitch world. It’s also great for new artists. Some artists prefer to be on New Noise because they want to music out there. It’s more about circulation.”
Currently, Twitch automatically mutes a channel if it detects copyrighted music that Amazon doesn’t have a license to stream. Last year, Amazon introduced a licensed music library and music creation tool for Twitch streamers can use, but many streams on Twitch are still muted when unlicensed tracks start playing in the background.
That doesn’t turn off professional streamers such as Gabriel Ross, a former DJ from Mesa, Ariz., whose Twitch channel, WarwitchTV, generates thousands of dollars a month from subscribers who pay $4.99 a month to get exclusive perks such as chat badges and access to his archived videos.
Ross, who sees an opportunity for labels such as Aoki’s New Noise to reach new fans through Twitch broadcasters such a himself, many of whom have ardent fans of their own. “As a former DJ, I understand the power of music,” said Ross. “I use music to enhance the experience.”