Sereda, who performs under her last name, was ready to give up on music. She'd been trying to make it in L.A. for seven years, meeting with label executives time and again in hopes of getting some representation. "I was contemplating whether I was going to quit music, because it's a grinding, grueling thing," she says. "I came to L.A. with a dream, and I basically failed."
In May 2019, a friend introduced her to livestreaming platform Twitch, which at that point was mostly a place for gamers to livestream themselves playing video games. With enough time on the site and enough followers, gamers could ultimately monetize their channels. Sereda's friend suggested she livestream her songwriting process.
"I was always in here in my room, making my music anyway," she says. So she gave it a try. Today her channel boasts more than 200,000 followers and brings in an average of $4,500 per month. "It's drawn an audience of people who love that magical eureka moment when the perfect melody hits the perfect instrumental," she says. "It's like watching an artist paint."
Here's how Sereda was able to build her unconventional but successful music side hustle.
Even as she met with music executives over the years, Sereda built multiple streams of income both in and outside of her industry. She worked at a bar, she worked for Postmates, she acted in films including Netflix's "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile," and she wrote music that she has sold to be used in movies or ads.
"A song I wrote got used for the PlayStation 5 commercial," she says. "I have also sold music to movies like 'Good Kids.'"
Film production companies often opt to work with "smaller, independent artists like myself," Sereda explains, because the costs are much lower: "My biggest check [from selling music to films] was $5,000." By comparison, "if you try to get a big song from a label, you'll pay $100,000 for that licensing fee."
A lot of the money she made from these hustles went not just to living expenses but also for music tech and equipment. Creating a song is about more than just writing it, if you want to get the most professional sound possible. An artist also needs to record it and use software to finesse the final product.
"I had been investing all the money that I made from these little music things into building my studio here in my own home," says Sereda. Because she didn't necessarily have the funds to hire producers to help with recording, "I built the skills to record myself and make my own music."
Being "self-sufficient," as Sereda describes it, was what enabled her to offer people something unique on the platform: a behind-the-scenes look at how music comes to life.
"It's like this aspect of the music industry that is so shrouded in secrecy," she says. "You almost never hear about major artists and what they're doing in the studio. ... I will show people how a song is made from scratch."
These days, Sereda streams her songwriting process 3 to 7 hours per day, with about 500-1,000 people watching at a time.
She has expanded her creative output on the site as well: In the fall, she went on a virtual tour of 28 cities. Each day was dedicated to a city, and she'd spend four hours per night playing for and talking with the 500-420,000 people who'd tune in to her channel. She declined to elaborate on what kind of money she makes doing tours.
"The support that I have received from people who have come to find my channel on Twitch is something I've never experienced," she says. "Here I am, an independent artist with no record label, no publishing deal, no manager, no help from anybody, literally just me and this platform, Twitch."
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