Editorial: They’re Not Yours

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They’re not your viewers.

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you that. Yes, I know. You’ve been grinding away on your Twitch channel for 7 years, even though Twitch is 6 years old. You stream 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, uphill both ways…

Every day, you sign in, power up the ol’ OBS, and greet the regulars. You’re not sure if some of them even left overnight. Hey, there’s the guy you comforted when his cat died. What do you mean they’re not my viewers? How dare you…

Some broadcasters have forgotten how this works.

See, the best analogy for Twitch is that it’s a collection of street corners, a town in the middle of the internet. And each day, performers try their luck on the street corner. Playing their horns, painting their Kappas, and dazzling with their video game prowess. And people will stop, cheer, and maybe even toss a couple pence into the hat before moving to the next street corner or continuing on to their jobs.

And maybe you’ve gotten REALLY good at performing on that street corner. Maybe you bought a storefront, decorated it with an overlay of lights, put up some fancy signs in the windows, and paid some people to stand in front of your shop, hoping to attract the others in like duck decoys.

Maybe you researched the best street corner at the best times to attract a crowd. Maybe you’ve even collected some regulars. You know their backstory. You know their mama’s name. They’ve been coming by here on their way to their job for years now. They’re not yours either.

None of them belong to you. You can not force them to stay. You can not pay them to stay… Well, you can try, but if you’re not backing it up with some entertainment, that’ll only last so long.

This also means they can not be stolen, if they were never yours to begin with. Another performer may swoop in, playing a louder tune, and distract a few regulars. But if they really liked you, they’ll be back once the magic wears off.

Or maybe they won’t be. Maybe you’ve gotten complacent. You thought your street corner was safe. This tune has always brought in the passerbys. Why won’t that always work?

The truth is that this town is changing all the time. What started as a town is now a bustling city. They tore down some buildings the other day to make room for a new highway overpass. No one can hear your beautiful tune down there anymore. The regulars thinned out, even though there are more people here than ever. Why? What changed?

There are more street corners and more performers every day. The good news is, anyone can still rise to the top. I see it all the time. Change will either grow you or squash you.

The fight that thousands of performers have had over street corner signs will seem pretty silly when the first performer figures out how billboards work. Don’t get mad at the guy who figures out they can take their street corner performance to the park where the people are. Maybe you’re thinking too small.

You can’t steal them.
Can’t deserve, claim, own, collect, or bank them.
You can only attract, thank, love, entertain, comfort, and distract them.
Never take them for granted.
They have a mind of their own. A free will. With subjective and changing tastes.
But they’re NOT yours.

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