Words written by and photos courtesy of the artist
My name is Sofia Lizano, better known as Sunfyre on the internet. I was born in Costa Rica but I was raised in Brazil and Dominican Republic therefore I know how to speak Portuguese, Spanish and English. All of this early exposure to different cultures created a big passion for music in my life. My dad gave me a drum kit when I was 10 years old in 2002 and that’s when I decided to give this instrument my full attention. Since I started listening to Linkin Park and Blink 182 in 4th grade, I knew I wanted to be able to drum like those guys. Travis Barker caught my eye as a kid, and later in middle school I discovered Avenged Sevenfold. My entire dedication to drumming changed when I knew I wanted to be like “The Rev”, the former drummer of Avenged Sevenfold.
I had an acoustic Yamaha drum kit for many years that I used for my temporary rock bands but my dad unfortunately sold it when I left Costa Rica to come study in the US. I had not picked up the drums for many years until 2016 when I joined a metalcore band for 2 years. We played in venues often and it was a great experience as a musician.
That band eventually trended downward and members weren’t around as much for live shows and band practice. That’s when I decided to give Twitch a try during my free time. Most people know Twitch for it’s famous gaming streamers making bank on games like Fortnite or PUBG but I only played and streamed those games for fun. Eventually, I realized my viewership was increasing. Everyday the same usernames popped in my channel chat to hang out while I played my favorite games. It felt like a community was beginning to form and I really enjoyed that. I dedicated a whole year to building my loving community on Twitch. Having a schedule helped them know when to catch my stream too.
Now, this is where drumming on Twitch starts. I was browsing the site one night and found a category named “Music” back then, now it’s called “Music and Performing Arts”. I saw singers, pianists, guitarists, and drummers on there! I was blown away by the usage of the platform for musicians to play covers and originals live to their viewers. Early 2018, a friend I met on Twitch offered to lend me his Roland TD11k since he wasn’t using it. I said yes thinking I could use it to drum on Twitch. I hooked everything up and hit the “Go Live” button. I still remember my first ever drum stream in March 2018. Man, my audio was terrible back then and my microphone quality was very poor. But hey, that’s how it all starts. I remember having a lot of fun playing drums to my favorite songs and my chat was able to request songs for me to play over. I really loved this side of performing online.
With time I realized I needed to upgrade my production quality and that came with my community’s support through PayPal donations and Twitch subscriptions. I would have never imagined that I would make more tips on Twitch than at an actual venue. All of this was so comfortable to me, performing from the comfort of my home and deciding my own hours. I dedicated more time to my drumming streams than I did to my gaming so my channel became a music channel more than anything. I think that was the start of my success on Twitch. Don’t get me wrong, so many gamers on Twitch have a great following and are able to live off this hobby, or as some call it, a career. However, as a musician on Twitch it is very possible to make this into a decent secondary income. Hell, I know a few successful musicians on Twitch now that live off their stream donations and subscriptions. But success comes with hard work.
Just to put it this way, my growth as a Twitch streamer increased exponentially as a drummer. My drumming skills increased exponentially by performing on Twitch, playing most days of the week for a few hours every stream. I have so much fun building an awesome community that enjoys listening to me play. Bigger musicians on Twitch find your channel and are very supportive of one another. The music community is very tight knit. Everyone’s communities mostly know each other and help you succeed with them. For example when you have let’s say, 30 viewers watching you and you decide to end your stream, you can send those viewers on a “raid” to another streamer’s channel. This helps musicians grow a lot and their viewership increases which then makes them more popular. I was discovered by Matthew K Heafy, the singer of Trivium who is very successful on Twitch. He raids my channel with hundreds of viewers often and more people discover my content. This is one of the few great discoverability tools about this platform. I was able to reach Twitch partnership in 2019 which opened up many more opportunities like sponsorships with GFUEL and RODE microphones.
Twitch has been an incredible journey as a content creator, drummer and performer. I have met so many amazing people by attending TwitchCon twice already. I have been discovered by celebrities that I would have never imagined talking to if it wasn’t for my hard work as a drummer and streamer. I always push myself to improve my drumming and content in general. I hope that with my story, I can inspire other musicians to work towards their passion, and definitely give Twitch a try if you’re a musician. I’m always available to help people set up their first stream. Above all, do what you enjoy, and put in the work, and the success will come.