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HIGHER CULTURE: Why You Should Join Twitch

(Tanya Moutzalias/The Ann Arbor News via AP)

I’m going to guess that a certain percentage of RedState readers don’t know what Twitch is, and may have never heard of it. That’s fine. You’ll know why you should make it a regular part of your entertainment choices by the end of this article.

Twitch is an online, live-streaming platform (the official website is twitch.tv) that started in 2011. If you’ve heard of YouTube, then you know what an explosion there’s been in live-streaming there, and some of the creators getting famous and making loads of money doing it. Think of Twitch as just another platform for monetizing video content.

As CNBC noted in a 2019 article, at the beginning, it was primarily used by esports and gaming fanatics. And that’s what I remembered it as — I knew someone who would stream his Pokemon GO sessions (and watch other people’s). But I didn’t learn about how the world of Twitch has expanded, and how serious streamers of all kinds of entertaining content had begun using the site, until just before Christmas last year.

Sure, there are still many channels where you can watch people like my colleague Brandon Morse playing video games like a boss (or just making people laugh). Note: the content on his channel is aimed towards adults, with the use of salty language and so forth.

But gaming’s just the start of what’s going on there. Whatever your hobby or interest, someone is likely on there, sharing it with the world.

For example, watching and interacting on the site has become central to my efforts to cope with cultural spots and events in my community — concerts, museums, even libraries — being shuttered and canceled for months on end.

For me, the revelation about Twitch came when I found deejays and personal trainers and creative artists like painters and musicians sharing their work — directly with listeners and potential fans/clients. It’s mushroomed in this COVID year that started in the winter/spring of March 2020 and hasn’t really ended. And there was a hard truth you couldn’t escape on the platform: people who work in dance clubs or perform in music venues or inside health clubs were cut off from their primary means of making a living.

For me, the main draw of Twitch is the music content — most of which is completely free to access. Viewers have the option to tip the performers/streamers, but it’s all on a voluntary basis. It’s understood that most everyone’s feeling the financial pinch. The focus then is being a community — enjoying the music or whatever the content is. Getting through the weird times together.

Readers may have already noticed my love of music as a way to get through this time. Near the start of the pandemic on U.S. shores, I had to write a VIP piece about ’80s heartthrob Corey Hart’s new version of his Top 40 hit, “Never Surrender.”

Another boon for music lovers (I have a small vinyl collection) is listening to deejays who spin vinyl and educate you about new music from bands you already know. Let me give you two examples of this.

Many GenXers like me (and some older folks) know who Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) is. But they didn’t stop making music after “If You Leave” from the Pretty In Pink soundtrack, or a boatload of blippy-bloopy, ’80s New Wave tracks you heard back in the day at the club.

Yep, I found out through an enthusiastic, Twitch deejay that the band has continued to put out great music over the past few years. He suggested listening to their last three albums, but I’m really digging this one from 2017 right now. And you can listen to it guilt-free, because it’s right there on the band’s official YouTube channel.

The other example might surprise (and delight) you: there’s something of a talk show renaissance happening on the platform. Weekly, you can watch two deejays (or a deejay and a yoga/SPIN instructor) sharing records and talking about them to an audience. You can also watch MTV-style video shows, with a host chatting in between songs… and a Zoom “dancefloor” where viewers can be part of the show. Or you can watch a morning show, with everything from reggae to the Fab Four to Amy Winehouse playing softly. There are many other, creative streams like them that, I’m sure, will float your boat.

Join in!

In case you missed it:

Opinion: “Never Surrender” (COVID-19 Edition)