For Twitch music creator Jyoty, building an audience starts with being a fan first

Girl playing electronic dance music

July 8, 2022 | By: Matt Miller, Sr. Copywriter

As a teenager growing up in Amsterdam, Jyoty Singh would take a train then a ferry to London (because she wasn’t old enough to buy a plane ticket), where she would dance to music in the clubs until 6 a.m. and make the trip back home in the morning. Jyoty’s family wanted her to go down a traditional career path. “My Indian parents always wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer,” she remembered. And even though she did well in school, music was everything. “That love for music throughout my teens just kept growing bigger and bigger.”

But even though music was a passion, she never thought it could be her career. Instead, she went to college in London, and worked a number of jobs in marketing and politics throughout her twenties. At night, though, she was working the door at some of London’s hottest clubs, and becoming a staple of the scene. Her connections eventually landed her a slot hosting on the popular London urban radio station Rinse FM, where she became known as a curator and discoverer of new music. Soon, this evolved to her playing music at legendary clubs and festivals in London and around the world. In March of 2020, when the world went on lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, Jyoty found an audience on Twitch where she plays music to her thousands of followers.

At the Cannes Lions festival, we interviewed Jyoty about how she built her community through music and the importance of being authentic in her work.

Ahead of her performance at Amazon Port during Cannes Lions 2022 in June, we caught up with Jyoty to discuss how she built her own community in music and why it’s important to be original and authentic while connecting with audiences.

It seems to me that what helped you become such an influential voice in music was just being an active member of this community and also building the trust that audiences have in your taste.

Yeah, I think that’s true, and that’s also why, for example, Twitch has been so important. Even though I’ve gone back to touring, I’m still really into streaming. That’s because it’s exactly the same as what radio has done for me. People didn’t know me in person in Malaysia or in New York, they knew me because they heard me every week through the airwaves. And that’s where my powerful connections came from—having this online relationship with total strangers who really felt like they knew me and I felt like I knew them. That’s what really catapulted my career outside of the UK.

How did you develop your taste? How do you know what you like and how do you find it?

I always say because I’m a ‘90s baby, we kind of all grew up in this weird mashup era where it was normal to listen to Blink 182, but also to Christina Milian. I come from Amsterdam so when I was growing up, you would go to a hip-hop party but you would hear dancehall, you’d hear some R&B, you’d hear some deep house. I can sing certain Moroccan songs from start to finish, but I definitely don’t speak Moroccan. All these years later, when I [perform], that’s all you’re hearing, it’s everything I’ve heard growing up. And still, all day every day, I’m looking for music. I do Jyoty radio on Twitch where people send me their music, and on a Monday or Tuesday stream, I go through the inbox and the chat decides what’s hot or not, and what’s hot gets played on radio and what’s not gets constructive criticism.

So you’ve really developed this unique taste and style. Tell me why it’s important to have this originality and authenticity when connecting to your audiences?

I started thinking during lockdown a lot about what actually makes a good [performance]. There are the typical things like building on timing and momentum—it’s this primal feeling that can give someone goosebumps. That’s something that’s in between beats. Then I thought about the best sets I’ve ever been to and why were they so big? Then I realized something, very often, I’d want to grab the mic and say something to the crowd. But a really good [performer] can relay that message without talking. So that’s what I’m working on in every gig is getting my message across simply by letting the music do the talking. That’s what works well in the sense of connecting to your audience. I think you really need to dig deeper to figure out what it is that makes you stand out from the rest.

Was it different for you to build an audience on Twitch?

It’s so interesting, all of my Twitch family, they weren’t people I had ever spoken to on Instagram, they weren’t people that knew of my radio show. They were all brand new people. I think they all discovered me through raids. These people that you don’t know but you all know you like the same music, they’ll say this stream is ending so let’s go to that person’s stream. That’s how I built my Twitch audience. They had never seen me in person, they didn’t know about my radio show. I popped up on their streams one day and they just stuck around. Obviously, once I became more fluid with streaming I would start posting about it on social media, but the core audience came from within Twitch.

What would be your advice to other artists who are looking to build an audience on Twitch?

I would say slow and steady wins the race. For artists who want to grow their audience on Twitch, the loyalty is way more important than the number. The best way to grow your audience on Twitch—other than by you being interesting yourself—is by participating. Watch other people’s streams, be active. How can you ever really understand fans if you’ve never been a fan yourself? I live by that way of thinking with everything I do.

Since you have this background working with brands and working in marketing, but you’ve also built your own brand in music, what would be your advice to these people at Cannes who want to better connect with audiences or to be more authentic?

After all these years of working with brands and the world’s biggest clients is that if the client doesn’t get it, it will never translate. You could have all the money in the world, but if the person at the top doesn’t really care, it’ll get lost. We live in an age of democracy online. Someone who could never make it big through the traditional infrastructure are now going about it their own way. I think brands need to really catch on that they are no longer in control. You need to please the consumers. We as consumers are going to buy your shoes or watch your movie. But be honest with us and show us that you care. That’s the key to success, whether it’s a personal brand or a massive consumer brand, is transparency where people can feel like they can relate to you.

I know you’ve also taught workshops in India and elsewhere. Can you tell me about how you’ve used your success to create opportunities for South Asian women?

I just genuinely get so much energy and hunger by being around people who are eager to learn. What’s really rewarding is seeing someone else pick it up. I remember when I did a six-week course for South Asian girls here, there was one girl in my course, Priya, who is huge now. She has been teaching now and she’s on every festival lineup. She always stood out and every week she would come in and ask so many questions and by week three I thought, “She’s the one.” And now she is. You see how happy it makes someone, and it creates this beautiful little ecosystem of people passing it on.

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