Live Music During Coronavirus

DJ Habibeats during a recent live stream on Twitch.

I miss packed concert halls and loud, live music. Especially living in a city known for its music scene. By this time last year, I had already seen Robyn at the Paramount Theater, Bad Bunny at the Tacoma Dome, Smokey Brights at the Tractor Tavern, The 1975 and Anderson .Paak at WaMu Theater, and Mac DeMarco at ShowBox SoDo… just to name a few.

As someone who lives for live music, it has been tough to wrap my mind around the fact that it might be a very long time before I’m able to see artists perform live again. But that doesn’t mean that it’s all gloom and doom (and silence) in the meantime. Many artists have been taking to Instagram and YouTube to share live at-home concerts, and I’ve enjoyed tuning in for a few of the all-day benefits that feature well-known artists such as One World: Together at Home and All In WA: A Concert for COVID Relief.

However, something I wasn’t expecting—and where I have gotten the majority of my live-music fix—is from DJs on Twitch. If you’ve never been on Twitch (I hadn’t explored the site before Covid times), it is the leading live stream platform for gamers. I don’t think Twitch has officially owned this, but I would say it also seems to be the leading live stream platform for DJs.

The first livestream DJ set on Twitch I heard about was hosted by Cuffin’. Cuffin’ is an “All Thangs R&B Party” that takes place in different cities, one of them being Cuffin’ Seattle, hosted every first Friday at Still Liquor. Tuning into Cuffin’ on Twitch introduced me to Jayem Kayem, a DJ from Toronto, Ontario.

Jayem Kayem during a recent live stream set.

One of the best things about tuning into live sets on Twitch is that the DJ community is super supportive of one another, making it easy to get connected to other DJs. I now have a list of DJs whose shows I regularly tune into each week. I found all these DJs through other DJs shouting them out during their streams, as well as through DJs raiding one another (raiding on Twitch entails sending your audience to a new live stream when your live stream is done).

DJ Habibeats created a virtual set that looks like a cafe. He is “open” (aka live on Twitch) weekdays from 4:00 to 6:00 pm PT.

I now spend my workdays with Twitch running in the background, giving me free access to DJs with different styles and focuses from all over the world. Many of the DJs have been teaming up to host all-day streaming parties to raise money for the Know Your Rights Camp.

Additionally, through discovering one of my new favorite artists on Twitch, SOSUPERSAM, I also discovered the R&B party she co-founded in Los Angeles called “143.” 143 began in April 2013 by three local L.A. DJs (Partytime, siik, and SOSUPERSAM), who wanted “to create an environment where Los Angelenos could hang out and pay homage to the almighty love song.” Once a month 143 hosts a live stream on Twitch, including a Zoom dance floor that anyone can join!

A screenshot of the dance floor during 143’s last live stream.

143’s most recent live stream also included a Community Public Forum. “Founded by Carlos Avalos and Brice Waller, Community Public Forum was created with the primary goal of fostering meaningful conversations…” Community Public Forum is hosted live on Zoom every Thursday, and anyone can join to converse or just listen. It has been a powerful space that I am thankful for Twitch introducing me too. I never expected to find community and entertainment on a website “for gamers” – but hey, it’s 2020! Anything can happen!

If you are missing live music like me, I encourage you to dive into the wide world of DJs live streaming everyday on Twitch. Here is a list of some of my favorite DJs who regularly do live shows on Twitch to get you started: