SINGAPORE — These days, you are more likely to catch the dulcet tones of singer Hafiz John Dzulfikli though a screen rather than at a bar.
Once a regular performer in the nightlife scene, Hafiz has exchanged his gigs for the comfort of his spruced up music studio. In fact, the 34-year-old father of two finds performing online more fulfilling and engaging even as live performances are allowed to resume.
It’s no wonder why. Hafiz has cultivated a following of more than 7,500 followers on his Twitch account, JamBreadMusic.
His followers tune in to his audio sensory rich livestreams thrice a week, when Hafiz performs acoustic original or cover songs and is rewarded by a shower of Bits (virtual cheers) and Emotes (Twitch-specific emoticons) rather than applause.
Speaking to Yahoo Finance Singapore from his music studio "What’s Your Jam" at Kampong Bahru, the soft-spoken musician cum streamer detailed his journey from live performer to livestreamer in the second half of 2020, at a time when the pandemic took away a chunk of his income.
“The monetising part is also part of why I want to start streaming. I am so used to getting secondary income from live performing so I was thinking also this could also be good for me," he said, adding that live performances were uncertain because of the pandemic curbs.
Hafiz started the studio in 2018 providing jamming sessions, lessons and recording services. When COVID-19 rolled around two years later however, Hafiz was forced to let go all five of his music teachers and take half of lessons online. That's where he got his first taste of playing music through video.
Meanwhile, with live performances banned, Hafiz’s secondary source of income, which contributed up to 20 per cent of his take home, had dried up. He also missed performing at his regular gigs at bars and clubs.
Eased boredom by livestreaming
Hafiz began livestreaming his music at home as a way to ease his boredom. His first few livestreams, on social media platforms Instagram and Facebook were watched only by friends. Then he learned about Twitch, but was skeptical about the kind of content that could be streamed on the platform, and the reach.
“That means if I wanted to start streaming on Twitch I’m going to have zero friends so it’s like totally starting from zero, unlike Instagram and Facebook I already had friends on my account right. So I started looking at Twitch and looked at content creators and stuff,” he said.
After checking out other musicians on the platform, Hafiz’s scepticism vanished. He was immediately taken by the sound quality of the music on Twitch, which he likened to live performances.
Hafiz’s priority was to achieve a similar sound quality. Once he has settled the equipment issues, Hafiz did his inaugural Twitch stream in August 2020.
By November that year, Hafiz’s irregular livestreams had gained some traction and he was made Twitch Affiliate. Being a Twitch Affiliate meant that Hafiz could start earning from his channel. The membership is only offered to content creators who have hit certain milestones in their livestreams, including having at least 50 followers.
“How I felt is I get to meet friends and those friends become legit friends. Why I wanted to livestream is to meet them and hang out with them again… it makes me feel motivated along the way that these viewers come back again and again,” he said.
The growth in followers is a key reason why Hafiz now prefers livestreaming to performing live, he said. Another is the interaction between follower and content creator, albeit through the Twitch platform. Performing onstage is more one-way, he said.
While Twitch Affiliates can monetise their content through several avenues, Bits and subscriptions were Hafiz’s main channels. Bits are virtual cheers followers can buy to show their support for their idols. Followers can use Bits in the chats with their idols as a “shoutout” to indicate their presence. Streamers earn S$0.01 from every Bit that is used in the chat.
Followers can also pay a minimum of $4.99 to subscribe to Hafiz’s channel and gain access to a wider range of custom Emotes, designed by his wife. Subscribers are awarded custom sub badges and are given ad-free access to streams. Hafiz also rewards his subscribers with priority song requests.
Hafiz also earns through ad revenue, a product affiliate link on his Twitch bio, and the sale of JamBreadMusic branded merchandise.
By 2022, Hafiz had hit yet another milestone. He was offered the chance to be a Twitch Partner — a tier above Twitch Affiliate. This meant better benefits and more exposure as Twitch promotes his content.
Livestreaming supplements his income
Now with a wider base of followers, Hafiz is fully committed to a fixed livestream schedule: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon for around three to four hours each time. Nights, he said, are reserved for the children, which is also why he cannot commit to live gigs as they usually take place at night.
His part-time live-streaming now makes up 20 to 30 percent of his total income, with monthly earnings from Twitch reaching a mid-four digit sum at times. While he still earns mainly from his music studio, livestreaming provides a welcome "bonus".
Apart from cash, Hafiz’s Twitch community helped to fund a computer which he now uses for livestreaming. The S$1,500 goal was reached within a month, he said.
His advice to potential livestreamers was simply to take it easy. “Make sure you really really really love what you do. Don’t even think about anything else, you must make sure you are so passionate about what you're doing. And then all of these things come naturally."
"Subconsciously you want to make sure you look okay on streaming so obviously you will get a good camera eventually or set your angles nicely. Make your about me page nicely... So all those things should come naturally. You don't have to stress yourself."
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