From Hobby to Career: Success Stories of Singaporean Live Streamers


Live streaming Singapore has also connected with the gaming industry, as it’s the easiest platform for gamers to capture gameplay and have live audience interaction. Most of these gamers are actually semi-professional gamers looking to make a small break in the gaming industry to earn some extra income while entertaining an audience.

Singapore has also seen a rising trend of individuals using live streaming Singapore as a platform to express themselves through singing, gaming, comedy, and even ranting on social issues. Since the technology gradually developed and the internet industry in Singapore has seen an increase, more people are willing to absorb new knowledge and venture into something unconventional, like what Daryl Aiden Yow did with his photography. This trend has left a significant change in the daily living of Singaporeans trying to make a decent living.

Live streaming has been the newest trend in the social media and social networking space, where most sites have incorporated live streaming into their platforms. Now, we have celebrities, marketers, entrepreneurs, teachers, students, and literally anybody with access to a laptop and internet trying to leverage this feature to get themselves “groomed” in a way and potentially make themselves known in this noisy and competitive digital space.

Rise of Live Streaming in Singapore

Before analyzing the success stories of local live streamers, it is important to understand how the streaming industry has evolved into the massive entity that it is today. Five years ago, one would have thought that gaming was the only form of entertainment on live streaming platforms. With the introduction of the “IRL” (In Real Life) category on Twitch several years back, it opened up the floodgates to a whole new audience, which at the time, consisted largely of gamers. At first, it was just a select few individuals testing the waters. Fast forward to today, and you have a sea of IRL streamers, both from overseas and within our own community, providing content of all types for their viewers. This transformation has led to some streamers making the switch from gaming to full-time streaming, and others deciding to venture into live streaming as a full-time career.

The Impact of Live Streaming on Careers

Hitherto, the explicit act of playing computer games or interactive videos in front of a live audience was neither a career nor a money-making venture; it was essentially just a hobby. However, due to the sudden prevalence of live streaming as a high viewership and subscriber count platform, individuals are now capable of turning said hobby into a lucrative career. YouTube content creators, Twitch streamers, and even Dailymotion producers are examples of people in the digital era that have revolutionized the entertainment industry by branding themselves and their content to their audiences to build a loyal fan base for financial support. While this might not be an overnight success for some, it is definitely a noteworthy one for all, as even streaming part-time is substantial enough for a decent income based on their viewer count. These incomes are generated via advertising revenue, paid subscriber features, and even donations from very appreciative fans. An evident example can be seen with Twitch, where their partnership program and affiliate program now offer streamers the chance to have additional revenue sources and even their own custom Bit Emoticon for their viewers. These success stories are not only inspiring to others in the community, they are definitive proof that live streaming is indeed an effective and adaptable new age career.

Success Stories

Jean was an actor who suddenly found himself jobless due to Covid-19. Not knowing when his next job would be, he turned to Twitch as a platform to pass his time by playing games. From an average of 15 viewers, it escalated up to 250 viewers within a span of 3 months. This happened when he was given a chance to play in an all-local player tournament and had managed to progress very far in the tournament. This also led him to meeting veteran Street Fighter legend, Ho Kun Xian, and getting whooped in a couple of matches by him. His viewers eventually started to follow Xian’s stream after he directed them there when he was still live. After the tournament had ended, viewers were trying to contact Jean since they wanted to watch him play online ranked matches. It was during this time period that the local fighting game Discord channel had granted him the role of being a contact for them to recruit other local players so that they could hold sparring sessions and also try to tighten the gap between the new and old school players. This was a stepping stone for Jean who wished to aid the local community and spur them to improve their skills. Having to play at home wasn’t quite the same as meeting others in real life to play, and so Jean decided that he wanted to create local offline sessions at his home venue for players to level up. Thinking that Singapore’s FGC (Fighting Game Community) needed some form of online entertainment, Jean had managed to ask Xian for permission to hold a charity event with him. They organized a 3v3 Team Battle Exhibition Stream with players that were handpicked by Xian. The rest of the details can be read from this blog post. This event was indeed a success, as players were quite hyped and looking at our performance in the event, viewers were already expecting more in the future. Nowadays, Jean is at Xian’s streaming house once or twice a week as a coach for his students and also a sparring partner for Xian.

Streamer A: Building a Dedicated Fanbase

To better understand why it was better, first we must understand the concept of reachability in live streaming. Like how SEOs work for a blog article or video recommendations on YouTube, it is about how easy content can be accessed by its targeted audience. And unlike other forms of online content which have various methods of increasing reachability, live streaming relies a lot on the platform it is running on. For example, Streamer A mentioned that Seventh Rebirth was a game that was auto-recommended to viewers who enter the Omlet Arcade mobile game section, and that was how many of his regular viewers discovered his stream.

Streamer A began his live streaming career in the mobile gaming platform Cube TV at the end of 2018. Due to the nature of live streaming in Singapore, which is still in its growing phase, there are bound to be people who are unfamiliar with live streaming or the various platforms available. As such, there are more people who are familiar with other forms of online content such as YouTube videos or blog articles. As live streaming was more of a hobby for Streamer A back then, he did not put in much effort to promote himself or customize his content for easy access. This resulted in poor reachability to potential viewers. This was further worsened when he switched to another mobile gaming platform, Omlet Arcade, in search of better opportunities. In the end, he used about a year to build an amassed viewer base of about 100 viewers, and it was at this point when the mobile game Seventh Rebirth became the turning point of his live streaming career.

Streamer B: Monetizing Live Streams through Sponsorships

Streamer B, like Streamer A, is a full-time undergraduate and part-time tuition teacher. She used to give tuition three times a week, for 1.5 hours each session. Hoping to have more free time for herself, she quit her teaching job for a part-time retail job. Contrary to her expectations, the open shifts system at her retail job caused her to have even less free time than before. She had to constantly be on her toes checking for next week’s schedule and ended up working almost every day just to fill up the vacated slots. Burnt out from working almost seven days a week and getting paid a paltry sum, she decided to quit and go back to teaching tuition. At the same time, she was also introduced to live streaming by Streamer A. Seeing that it is a flexible part-time job that offers potential decent pay, she started learning about live streaming and set a target for herself. She wanted to achieve a source of income that was comparable to a part-time teaching job, for fewer working hours.

Streamer C: Leveraging Social Media for Growth

Streamer C is a 23-year-old undergraduate who started streaming mobile games in English and Mandarin languages in June 2017. He started off with no viewers and grew primarily on Facebook Gaming, allowing him to get noticed in the SEA mobile gaming community and reputable enough to the extent of being sponsored by major mobile game developers in tournaments. This allowed him to engage his community in viewers in competitive aspects of mobile gaming, which were pretty exclusive and brought a breath of fresh air with a different taste to it. His viewers choose to support him all the way, allowing him to participate in mobile gaming tournaments with the budget provided mainly from the donations and subscriptions from his viewers. The exposure in competitive mobile gaming has also gotten him invites from event organizers to cast games and network with various members of the gaming community. He started getting noticed by major mobile gaming guilds with his recent reputation from the tournament sponsorship and organizer invites. This has gradually evolved his content gameplays back to recording guild content and guild wars on a more strategic level mobile gaming. Due to an overwhelming amount of invites to join various guilds throughout the mobile gaming community, he had a creative idea to make a new show named “Recruiting with ___”, a 30-60 live stream where he will visit various guilds and interact with the guild leaders and members to see if the guild is a good fit for him. This reality TV-styled show is something totally different from the entire SEA mobile gaming community and will provide entertainment and insight towards the various guilds and their activities, which will be proven beneficial to the guilds in the long run.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

Ella “Kageh” faced a similar inner conflict during her hiatus. “That sense of them waiting for me never really left until now, but I’ve come to understand that my true friends and viewers would rather me take care of myself first.” This is certainly stressful for someone with a strong sense of responsibility and reinforces the feeling of leadership within their community. An expectation has been set to the point that quite a lot of personal events are shared with viewers. Some live streamers blog about their contention with this, but ultimately it’s the sacrifice of privacy for another method of content.

Viewers expect engaging content, and it can feel like being underemployed when a day is taken off, which can be very mentally draining when days off are spent recovering and not on leisure. Streaming tends to weigh heavily on the mind of the streamer in their personal life. One will often feel guilt or remorse while doing activities that do not benefit their stream. An example would be going to watch a movie and being behind a few hours of the usual streaming schedule. There will be a constant reminder that it’s delaying something that real people are looking forward to, and the efficiency of free time to engaging content can sometimes become a chore in itself.

Lesson learned from creating such tightly-knit communities: balancing content and lifestyle is certainly one of the most prominent challenges faced by streamers. Jennet “Potato,” one of the most prolific streamers from Singapore, mentions the struggle of regularly streaming under tight schedules while sacrificing social or personal time with friends and family. “My lifestyle has certainly changed when I turned it into a career. In the past, I used to work night shifts at NUS, and I could meet up with my friends during the day, but now I sleep during the day and play games at night.”

Balancing Personal Life and Streaming Commitments

Balancing personal life and streaming commitments was one of their early hurdles as they worked on establishing their image online. In their session, Jereld & Daphne, together with their twin toddlers, will share with viewers how they overcame this challenging phase. Many of us are so fired up and passionate about our newfound hobby but are relegated to the very limits of the once hollow term ‘work-life balance’. The term takes on new meaning when you find your downtime leisure activity rapidly becoming more of a commitment than just simply clocking off from the 9 to 5 grind. An activity that once acted as an avenue of escape from the stress of work will in itself become a source of stress if not managed correctly. Whether or not they were already parents, every viewer can relate to this scenario to an extent. The value of this session is being able to witness how the family man/woman can work so hard at something yet at the same time not neglect what is most important to them. Viewers with more heavy commitments will learn that as daunting a task it may seem to juggle streaming with family life, it is very much possible. With careful time management and setting (and sticking by!) realistic boundaries for your streaming hours, you’ll find that you can still have ample time to spend with your loved ones. Being an active gamer, Jereld found an easy way to involve his family in his streaming by simply playing games suitable for toddlers such as Nintendo Switch titles. This, in turn, published a more diverse library of his content.

Dealing with Online Trolls and Negativity

There are different levels of dealing with online trolls and negativity, and this is a problem that Singaporean live streamers still face from time to time. At a basic level, Anfield shares: “I think like everyone, I get the odd troll in chats or on forums or Facebook, but most of it is just funny or it’s easy to deal with and not a big deal.” For many of the streamers, they may not even know what trolling is unless they experience it themselves. This was what Yandao had to say: “Can someone define what is a troll? I still don’t very understand the term omg.” Unfortunately, for many others, the experiences get a lot worse than the occasional troll, ranging from sarcastic comments and back seat gaming tips, all the way to personal attacks and attacks on family members. When casters begin to feel emotional and angry, they react in different ways. One such way that a Starcraft 2 coach and commentator simply known as Artosis shares: “A lot of the problem with me, if there are hate threads on forums and stuff, I’ll actually read it…this obviously does not help!” Although reading and acknowledging the said comments may be an irrational choice, some casters have opted for this while others may choose to block out said negativity by avoiding forums and social media sites altogether. An extreme few have fallen victim to online harassment, and in some rare cases this has resulted in streamers quitting or moving on from a specific game or even ceasing streaming altogether. This is a reflection of trolling which is too much to handle, and some instances are certainly harder to recover from than others. Evidently, Artosis feels that the community can be its own worst enemy.

Adapting to Evolving Live Streaming Platforms

Apart from producing content, there are other aspects of different platforms that streamers must take into consideration. One obvious factor would be the business/high revenue potential of the platform. For Shio, the decision to start on Twitch was driven by the fact that it is an established platform with a high potential for viewer engagement and sponsorships. Conversely, while JianHao did make a short stint on Twitch, he decided the platform was not for him because it was not worthwhile from a business standpoint. Decreasing ad revenue for creators and stricter guidelines in monetization are reasons he cited for switching back to YouTube. He mentioned that despite having a bigger viewer base on Twitch, the revenue did not compare to YouTube.

However, a large hurdle lies in mastering the technical know-how of these platforms. Different platforms require different software to get connected. ImAkshai is a prime example of that. Starting out on Twitch, he had to learn how to use Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) to connect to the platform and add interesting overlays for his viewers. This was unlike YouTube, which enabled him to use the same program and did not require any prior setup. He would then make the eventual switch to Facebook Gaming. Similarly, Charlie and JianHao, who started on YouTube, had to learn to use Twitch and OBS, while the skillset and software Ritz used on YouNow was entirely different.

One of the most obvious success factors from all the stories was attributed to time and effort put into their channels. No one found instant success but had to continuously work on it for a period of time to see growth. Setz had a rough start and took almost a year before he realized his stream had become popular, so it took around 2 years before he found success. He remembers the times when he would be playing to only 5 viewers, but there was enough support for him to grind it out till today, reminiscing that it was always worth it. The same applies to both Cathy and Lauryn. When interviewed, they exchanged a few laughs when they brought up their humble beginnings, laughing at points when there was only a single viewer watching. But through effort and support, they have garnered a large viewer base till this day.

The youths had a different story; it was no doubt that education is a top priority in Singapore. Tensions were high for Julian as he mentioned that he would try streaming for a few years to build it as a side income while coping with his studies before deciding if he should go full time. A surprising point to note is that most, if not all, of the streamers did not intend to build their channels up to become a full-time job. They simply did it out of curiosity or to kill some time, never expecting things would lead to what it is now. This was the exact same for Case and Brendon from the music duo “Same Same But Different”. They started with the simplest of intentions to break away from the only thing they knew in their lives (a band) to try something new in their lives.

From the insightful stories the streamers shared and analysis, we noticed a few interesting patterns. Firstly, the age of the broadcasters played a big role in their broadcasting styles and aims for their channels. For instance, the older generation of broadcasters such as Cathy and Setz saw their channels as a possible revenue stream to semi-retire into, while youths such as Julian saw this as a good platform to entertain and hopefully gather a loyal fan base or “community”. They feel that with the right amount of exposure, there might be a chance for stardom in Singapore. Different ages play different cultural exposures. For the older generation, this was something completely out of their minds, so it was never a career choice in the first place. They simply fell into it and enjoyed doing it as they were already playing games during their free time.