Musicians have been quickly turning to Twitch to support themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they’re no longer able to make money from live gigs and touring. Now Twitch is staffing up to turn this ad hoc use of Twitch into more of a formal product. The company today announced it hired Spotify’s Tracy Chan as its new head of Product and Engineering for Music.
Chan worked at Spotify for four years as director of Product Management. In this role, he was primarily focused on leading product strategy and development for Creator platforms and developing analytics tools for artists and labels, including Spotify for Artists and Spotify Analytics.
He joined Spotify in April 2016 after the streaming music company bought his photo aggregation startup, CrowdAlbum, in order to add to its growing set of marketing tools aimed at artists. Before CrowdAlbum, Chan worked at YouTube as a product manager, where he launched YouTubes’s Creator Platform and what’s now called YouTube Creator Studio.
Now at Twitch, Chan joins a growing music team headed by Twitch’s head of music, Mike Olson. Going forward, Chan will focus on evolving the Twitch experience specifically for live music and helping artists and fans better connect in real time, Twitch said in an announcement.
This is not Twitch’s first ex-Spotify’s to join Twitch with a focus on music. Earlier this year, Athena Koumis, formerly of XITE and Spotify, joined as the Music Partnerships Manager, the company notes.
Though many artists now performing on Twitch may already have followings on mainstream social platforms — like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube — some have found it’s easier to make money on Twitch, reports have said. In addition, Twitch has made several efforts amid the pandemic to help onboard more musicians to its platform. For example, Twitch and SoundCloud recently announced a partnership that allows SoundCloud creators to start earning money from Twitch streams by fast-tracking their Affiliate status.
Twitch also partnered with Bandsintown on a similar effort focused on quickly giving artists access to the Twitch Affiliate program.
Once live on Twitch, the artists can generate revenue through subscriptions, direct donations, by cheering with Bits (an online tipping feature), by running ads on their channel and by linking to music and merchandise stores. They also can directly connect with fans via Twitch chat. Some have even taken advantage of Twitch features like raids, which redirect viewers to another live channel, and another that lets a channel broadcast another’s stream when they’re not live. Though designed with the gamer audience in mind, these have also proved useful for musicians looking to collaborate with others in order to grow their Twitch followings.
Though Twitch today is still best known for game streaming, it has been steadily expanding its live music footprint. Since the coronavirus breakout, Twitch has featured live musical performances from artists including John Legend, Diplo, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Lady Antebellum and dozens of others. Some of these were a part of Twitch’s 12-hour charity stream, Twitch Stream Aid, which benefited the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO powered by the United Nations Foundation.
In a statement, Chan spoke of the opportunity ahead at Twitch.
“I have spent my career building Creator tools and I believe there is a massive opportunity to help artists connect with their fans through virtual performances and live streaming, which is what led me to Twitch,” said Chan. “Across the board, and especially at this moment in time, we are seeing disruption in the music industry as artists are having to find new ways to both make money and interact with fans. As Twitch looks to expand its offerings for music creators and within the music industry as a whole, I am confident that together with the team, we will be able to build the necessary tools to support artists now and as they continue to explore their new virtual stage,” he said.
Olson, meanwhile, added that Chan’s hire comes at time when Twitch is heavily investing in building more product and monetization tools for music creators.
“Tracy is joining our team at a critical moment as we continue to see growing interest from both new and established musical talent joining Twitch,” said Olson. “His experience in developing video and music Creator tools will be invaluable to our team as we pursue new ways to support artists and connect them to their fans around the world.”