In the realm of alternative careers, being a live-streamer seems like one of the most fun and perhaps the most lucrative. The live-streaming gaming service, Twitch, has been gaining traction in Singapore, with quite a handful of Singaporeans joining the platform as full-time streamers.
In October, an unfortunate hack in Twitch’s database revealed quite a bit of information, including creator payouts.
While we do not condone data breaches of any kind, it is interesting to note that a couple of local Twitch streamers made the list. As a note, this breach showed the highest earnings from Twitch streamers between 2019 and 2021.
We reached out to three Twitch streamers in the list, namely arthars, Denise Teo of supercatkei, and Vtuber Stal, for a glimpse behind the live-streaming curtain.
The decision to go full-time
While the streamers on the list have raked in quite a tidy sum, the road to streaming full-time is not without obstacles. Like any job, there are highs and lows unique to full-time streamers.
As one of the top earners on the list, with reported earnings of S$105,385.43, Final Fantasy streamer, arthars took a while before he transitioned to a full-time job.
“It took me two years after I started streaming to take on this stance, and since then, I’ve been working hard not just to stream, but also to do video editing and collaborate with brands to expand my sources of revenue to make streaming into a full-time job.”
Even though arthars has one of the highest earnings on the list, “just streaming alone is not enough as a Singaporean”.
“We need to continue to work on our brand, our reach on social media, get noticed and then get additional support from outside of streaming to make this a viable full-time job”, said arthars.
This is seconded by Stal, a Vtuber, who uses a virtual online appearance as a replacement for a webcam. Stal, who went full-time in May 2020 with reported earnings of S$67,920.61, stresses that it is not just about playing video games.
“There’s also a lot of work behind the scenes that people don’t really see or think about, such as planning content, schedules, merch, future projects, collaborations,” said Stal.
Variety streamer, supercatkei stressed that “it’s not as simple as ‘going live and playing games'”. “Different streamers do it differently, of course, but some of my streaming content have required weeks of planning and prep.”
Denise of supercatkei only started streaming in August 2020 when she flew back from New York City and has amassed 39.1K followers with reported earnings of S$86,171.86 — an incredible feat for someone who is new to the Twitch scene.
If you managed to catch any of supercatkei’s streams, her one-year celebration was a 33 hour-long Subathon which amassed 3.3 million views.
There was also her Keimas 2020 stream– her take on celebrating Christmas — with one giveaway for every stream in December, with prizes that include various peripherals, gaming credits, and personalised cards/gifts.
Both these streams required heavy planning and coordination, not something she could do right off the bat.
Most people assume that we just play games and don’t do anything else other than earn ‘easy’ money by sitting in front of our screens. The truth is that, as content creators, we have a lot of things to do, look out for, and improve on.
In fact, it’s not just what we do on stream that defines us as a streamer, because the things we do off-stream are just as important, and people don’t see that aspect. We streamers easily work eight to 12 hours a day, seven days a week too!Arthars, Final Fantasy streamer
Different opportunities for Singaporean streamers
Despite a somewhat thriving Twitch scene in Singapore, it is still very much in its infancy stage. There are some benefits that local Twitch streamers are not privy to that might hinder their success on the platform.
“For example, we don’t have access to overseas tax reliefs because Singapore doesn’t have a tax treaty with the United States”, said arthars.
“We also don’t get premium contracts to earn more revenue from the Twitch subscription-based revenue system. We also are streaming on an overseas platform that’s still foreign to the local Singaporean and Southeast Asian market. Therefore we receive less support and opportunities from local brands and companies.
This is seconded by Stal, who feels that given the volatile nature of the job, it can be especially “mentally taxing”.
Opportunities in Singapore are also very limited compared to Western countries (America/UK/EU), at times, [certain opportunities] are exclusive to them. We do not have features like Bounty Board on Twitch (yet, fingers crossed) and there’s no escaping the 30 per cent tax as we do not have a tax treaty with America.Stal, Vtuber on Twitch
Best parts of being a streamer
Still, there are certain draws to being a Twitch streamer, such as the flexibility and the gift of producing content that speaks to you. For Stal, being in the streaming industry is particularly empowering.
It’s a little weird to say this but it feels like I own a business. I’m planning my own schedule, creating my own content and managing my own platform. When I work for a company, I’m doing it for someone else. But, when I work for myself, I’m chasing my dreams. It feels really nice and rewarding.Stal, Vtuber
The autonomy and independence of being a Twitch streamer is a quality that arthars appreciates as well. “We can produce any content we want that suits us and our style to succeed”.
Furthermore, as a Twitch streamer, you are offered the freedom and expression of creativity, unlike most jobs.
“Streaming and content creation is something that’s unique to each individual, but also has an audience no matter what you produce. There’s always a market, and every one of us is unique, and there isn’t a fixed path to success,” he added.
For Denise of supercatkei, streaming can also touch people’s lives. “The best part about being a streamer is the impact we are able to create in other people’s lives, no matter where they are around the world,” said Denise.
“I’ve never had a platform to be a light and good energy to others in the same way I do now on Twitch, and we’ve been able to come together to do some amazing things to help each other and others around the world.”
She is a strong advocate with mental health streams where she invited a professional therapist onto her stream several times to speak about mental health and raise awareness.
Her Charity Stream has raised S$5,600 in four hours, in which she donated the proceeds to two Singapore charity organisations.
Her success as a streamer has also led her to form the CATDOJO Mentorship program, where she helps streamers grow and reach their streaming potential. She ran her first program in April 2020 and currently has seven mentees based in Singapore and USA.
“The Singapore Twitch scene is still relatively small, but growing, and I want to be able to offer my experiences and knowledge to aspiring streamers [and] help them in community building and content creation.”
Streaming into 2022
At the rate Twitch is growing in Singapore, it’s clear that the platform is here to stay. For Vtuber Stal, this means venturing into streaming variety content, playing different games, and engaging with her followers.
“If possible, I would like to use my platform to bring more attention to the local VTuber scene. So that I can improve the perception of VTubers and people will be more familiar with the concept of it.”
For Final Fantasy streamer, Arthars, he prefers to take things one step at a time given the capricious nature of the platform.
“Things might change monthly, and we wouldn’t know what to expect”, he said. Still, arthars welcomes these unknowns as gaming has always been his first love and greatest joy.
“It’s super refreshing and fun as it is something I have been loving to do since I was seven years old! Gaming all day, every day!”
Denise of supercatkei is charging forward towards 2022 with big aspirations. “I would love to grow my reach globally and to build more of a name for supercatkei.”.
Furthermore, she is looking to do more hosting opportunities beyond gaming and, most importantly, “to have more opportunities to do good and spread good energy to people through the platform”.
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Featured Image Credit: arthars, Stal, and supercatkei