On Becoming a Twitch Singer: Mike Tedesco

Mike Tedesco singing on Twitch
This singer songwriter says he’s addicted to Twitch. Mike shares insights on tech, performing and income relevant to all singers.

Mike Tedesco is a singer-songwriter-pianist in New York City making a living as a full-time, independent musician. He’s performed in bars, restaurants, music-venues, vineyards, and private house parties, but with the onset of the pandemic decided to explore Twitch.

Now Mike’s channel is growing rapidly, and his fans love his performances – including several of us on the Singdaptive team!  We’ve asked Mike to explain how he learned his way around Twitch and to share his top tips for all singers. 

So a few years ago did you even know what Twitch was?

I had heard about it in passing, but only ever as a platform for gamers, not for musicians. When I heard about its potential for streaming music, I assumed it was going to be very much like Instagram live or Facebook live. But then when I went to check it out for myself, I found it to be completely unique and unlike any platform I had experienced before. 

What stood out for you on Twitch?

I found the streamers I would watch interacting with me in real time, taking song-requests. Not only was this just so unbelievably cool, but I also immediately felt it was something that I could do because of my experience performing cover-songs and originals at bars. Also, I found the music community to be so full of positivity, from both the streamers and those watching the streams, which made it even more enticing to join.

You’ve been gigging for a while – did you ever think you’d be doing live streaming gigs?

Even before COVID, I had done live-streams here and there, but I never thought I’d be this deep into it. Before my experience on Twitch, live streaming would terrify me. Something about playing in a room alone with a webcam and knowing that there are people watching and listening on the other side that you can’t see…it just freaked me out. To the point where I’d often freeze up in the middle of a performance.

In what ways has Twitch stretched you as a singer – musician?

It’s helped build my stamina performing as I’m currently streaming 4 days a week, at least 3 hours per day. And as strange as this is to say – since I really am playing in a room with no one but myself – I feel it’s helped me get more comfortable with audience interaction. Even though I can’t physically see those watching, over time I definitely feel I’ve become more comfortable interacting with everyone. In the few in-real-life gigs I’ve played recently, that comfortability and confidence has shifted over to how I perform for the people I can actually see too.

What did you have to learn about tech to become a Twitch singer?

In the past, I had done a few live-stream performances from my phone, and that always ended up being a mess both visually and audibly. Twitch made me hone-in on improving my audio, learning how to work a camera, and how important good lighting is. Being a musician on Twitch, I always felt the audio was the most important aspect of the stream. So, I made sure to focus on getting good-quality sound before anything else (and I already had experience with home-recording so was well prepared for this). A good friend of mine is a videographer and helped me get my camera and lighting situation together since I had no idea what I was doing on that end.

Top tech tip for folks new to singing on Twitch?

Audio is priority! Focus on getting solid audio first and the visual aspect will come later. You don’t need to break the bank to have solid audio either.

Let’s go deeper here – what specific advice do you have about getting good audio?

Well, I think for anyone beginning it’d be wise to invest in an audio interface (like any bit of gear, there is a ton out there that fall under a variety of budgets). I just recently started using the Audient iD14 and have been loving it. Before Twitch, I would stream from my phone, capturing the live sound of the entire room using my phone-mic as opposed to having the sound go directly into the computer via an interface. Naturally, the quality of sound that I’ve now been able to get has drastically improved. Plus, the interface allows you to have more control over the mix of what both the audience is hearing and what you’re hearing through headphones. Cleaner sound and more control. But you’ve gotta do what’s best for your current situation. If it’s not a good time to be spending, then just use whatever you currently have and find a way to make it work while you save up! In the end, what matters most is diving in and making the music. 

Is there any tech you’ve found makes things easier for performing?

A wireless page-turner foot-pedal that connects to my iPad via bluetooth (the one I use is by Donner). I am often reading sheet-music or chord-charts when performing both for live-stream shows and for my work gigs. It’s always such a nuisance to have to physically swipe the page in the middle of the song while trying to play, and especially using an iPad, it’s so easy to accidentally swipe too hard and 5 pages of music fly by. The foot-pedal has made page-turning so much more fluid. I highly-recommend. 

OK what about video – what are you using?

I don’t necessarily think I’m the streamer to offer video advice. I love the camera I have (a Panasonic Lumix GH4). My visuals on screen are very clean, as in I don’t have a lot going on on-screen aside from my song-queue and occasionally some “goal bars”. All I know is, I think for musicians the audio has got to be top priority, and then once you’re happy with the audio, you can look into improving your visuals if that’s something you want to do/can do.

What did you wish someone had told you about tech stuff before you hopped on Twitch?

That it doesn’t need to be perfect before diving in! Actually, someone did tell me that, but I didn’t listen. The advice was something along the lines of “Just dive in. Don’t wait. You’ll build upon your stream as you go. But don’t push it off any longer.” Now I agree with this person. I pushed off my first stream by a few months because I wanted to learn everything I could about streaming and I never felt I had a solid-enough webcam.

If I could go back I would tell myself to just start. Go live and figure out the rest along the way. Also, don’t ever hesitate to ask for help from someone who knows more about something than you do. (The amount of times I’ve bugged my videographer friend with questions regarding lighting/camera, or reached out to streamer-friends about how they managed to make their stream look a certain way…). They’ve all been a great help, but I’m sure they’re all sick of me at this point.

What was your first experience like with Twitch?

I think I had about 1-2 people watch me on my first stream, which was so exciting at the time! This made me nervous, but I pushed through. I had been doing a lot of research on Twitch up to that point, so to finally go live was quite thrilling.

What surprised you about this first Twitch performance?

How much I enjoyed it. I think the fact that I was playing for people who didn’t know me was really exciting, and it actually felt like a lot less pressure than when I’ve performed via live stream for people I do know in my life.

What did you find easy to do on Twitch that you thought would be hard?

I found myself less nervous performing on Twitch than when I had performed live on FB or IG in the past. Streaming on Twitch is unlike any other platform, and maybe it’s because it’s more interactive? (Go watch any music streamer on Twitch and you’ll see what I mean). I think I was less nervous because I didn’t personally know the people watching me on Twitch as opposed to the other social platforms where anyone watching was generally someone I knew in my life.

What did you find difficult to do on Twitch?

I found (and still find) it difficult not to spend all my time on Twitch watching other performers. Seriously, it’s addicting.

You sing covers and originals – what has been your fans’ favorite one of each of these so far?

Hmm, that’s tough to say. They’ve all been so supportive of both my original music and the covers I play, which I’m so thankful for. I’d say at the moment the favorite original is probably my song “Giants.” I’m not sure what their favorite cover would be, maybe “You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton.

Top tip for growing your fan base on Twitch?

This isn’t necessarily a “tip” for growing the fan base, as I really don’t know any secrets to how that works, but rather a few things I believe to be important in general as a performer (and in this case, specifically on Twitch): Make sure to do your best to interact with everyone watching and supporting your stream. These people are giving you time out of their day, their attention, and sometimes even their money – all of which is no small thing – so show them all the love and gratitude you can. Also, be sure to show love and support to the other musicians that you enjoy listening to on Twitch. And finally, just be yourself and make the music you want to make. You can’t please everyone and you’re certainly not going to be everyone’s taste musically, but if you stay honest and real in who you are and what you’re creating, you’ll find a crowd out there that will embrace what you’re doing, and they’ll be there not only because they connect with your music, but because they connect with you as a person on a deeper level too.

How does a musician make money on Twitch?

Through donations made directly from supporters. Also, once a streamer has reached affiliate status (I believe that’s 50 followers, 500 total minutes streaming over 30 days, 7 unique broadcast days, and an average of 3 or more concurrent viewers) they have the opportunity to earn money through subscriptions, ads, and viewers donating bits (Twitch’s form of currency) which gets paid out to you once a month from Twitch.

What did you wish I asked you about singing Twitch? 

Will I continue to stream on Twitch once live-gigs come back? And the answer is 100% yes. Streaming on Twitch has allowed me to connect and share the music with people from around the world that I never would have reached otherwise. My community is unbelievably supportive and kind and they also love to troll me which is always fun…I couldn’t be more thankful for each and every one of them. I hope to have the opportunity to play for them in person one day.

See Mike Tedesco on Twitch

See Mike on Instagram | Website | YouTube

Listen to Mike Tedesco’s OriginalHardly Recognizable

Mike Tedesco is a NYC-based pianist/singer-songwriter bringing high-energy, powerful vocals, and eclectic music to every performance. Tedesco has drawn inspiration from a variety of musicians including Billy Joel, Jeff Buckley, and Freddie Mercury. Tedesco has toured all around the country, plays year-round throughout New York and New England, and has most recently released his 4-song EP, Hardly Recognizable. He is currently working on a new album for 2021.

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