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  • Troy

How Four Color Zack fully utilizes Twitch to innovate the streaming genre.

Every Thursday night on Twitch, Four Color Zack puts on one of the most entertaining streams with a production value that rivals and/or surpasses most media companies on the platform.

Four Color Zack is a world renowned DJ from Seattle, WA. He's been traveling across the world, performing to all different kinds of crowds while showcasing his creative style of mixing. Ever since COVID-19 hit most of his gigs, like all other performers, have been cut off. Since then, he and many other DJs have moved to live streaming as a means for income and to maintain their presence within the music space.

At 8PM PST, every Thursday, FCZ puts on a variety music stream that most of the time will run until around 2AM PST. He also streams at 10PM PST on Saturdays, but for this piece we will focus on his Thursday broadcast. During his Thursday stream many things are certain that will happen. Beans will overflow the chat. Toad will perform a soulful rendition of Chandelier by Sia. Bird Peterson will destroy an audience challenged mashup in an hour (that you can listen to after the fact here). And most importantly, you will be able to get to enjoy a free live performance from one of the most creative DJs in the world.

What we can learn from FCZ's approach to streaming:

There are many things that FCZ does well with his Thursday stream. We will be focusing on his ability to create a highly interactive audience with his creative use of segments, his purposeful choices in subscriber emotes, and overall broadcast flow.

FCZ, like many of other DJs, performs live music mixes on his twitch channel. He shows off his musical creativity like so many others but, unlike others, breaks the monotony of the stream with many different personally produced segments.

His segments include:

  • Mash Mountain

  • How 2 Life Good

  • Skynet Jr.

  • Bird Peterson's 1 Hour Remix

  • Wrastlin'

  • and so many more.

Each segment's run time can be as little as 5 minutes to as much as a couple hours. The benefit Zack has from doing this on his personal stream is that he is able to run whatever segment that feels right at the time. There is no time crunch. There is not a specific order he needs to go in. He can just jump from segment to segment depending on how the chat is feeling for the night.

"Have I missed anything?"

With Zack's use of segments, if you tune in late and can miss so much. You can tune out for an hour and miss a trip to Mash Mountain, a land of meme musical mash ups that maybe shouldn't have been made. You can sign in late and miss Bird Peterson's Remix that he made in an hour combining two different musical genres that definitely shouldn't work, but because it's Bird it does. You can go to sleep early and miss the innovative humor of kindergarteners in Skynet Jr.

By using segments as an essential part of his broadcast, he is better able to retain viewers and keep the stream fresh at the same time. There is always something new happening during his stream and you never know what you will miss.

Now, let's move on to his subscriber emote choices.

Twitch gives every partnered or affiliated creator on its platform an ability to create custom emotes for their chat on their stream. These emotes are only accessible for the creator's paid subscribers. Basically, in exchange for the viewer's monetary support, the streamer gives the subscriber personally customized emotes to use on the platform.

Here are FCZ's current emotes at the time publishing:

We can categorize his emotes as the following:

- Reaction emotes (green)

- Segment emotes (pink)

- Inside Joke emotes (light blue)

- Self emotes (orange)

(Most of his emotes can really be multi-categorized).

Zack does an amazing job with implementation and usage of his subscriber emotes. Every one of his emotes serves a purpose and is useful for interacting with his broadcast.

The reaction emotes allows chat to show Zack how they are feeling at they are feeling at the moment. He allows a wide range of different kinds of emotes that can be used in different situations. Each one adding to overall personality of his stream.

The segment emotes can show chat's eagerness, anticipation, and then celebration. Eagerness when used by users who want to go to that specific segment. Anticipation when it starts to be spammed right before the segment starts. Celebration when the chat is flooded with emotes when the segment begins.

The inside joke emotes help perpetuate a sense of community for those that do show up week after week. When a new emote is dropped that relates from a joke from the previous stream, it brings another sense of excitement for the regular viewers.

The self emotes gives the viewers a fun way to connect with Zack as a person and can allow the audience to feel like a friend to him. His self emotes are pretty silly so it can help promote the sense of a jokingly roast among friends.

Whether it's getting the chat to spam the Mash Mountain (segment) emote to hype a trip to the meme music mash up depths of the internet or allowing chat to collectively spam Klompula the vampire to "dance" along to his live performance (a reaction). Every emote he has purposefully adds to the community's unique experience and to the overall personality of his stream.

By putting purpose and thought into each emote, he creates another level of interaction and person-ability between him and his community. This in turn makes subscribing to his channel more enticing for viewers than many other streams on the platform. There's subjectively more value for a viewer to subscribe to his stream than other streams because you will use Zack's emotes more frequently than most others on the platform.

We've highlighted his use of segments to keep his broadcast fresh and his purposeful use of emotes to create a unique, interactive viewing experience. Now we'll jump back into the flow of his broadcast.

Zack's broadcast is a very fluid, organic stream. He is able to do this by keeping up with, interacting, and understanding his chat consistently. He will get into a zone while he is Dj'ing, but will never forget about chat.

Zack, has every portion of his stream planned out, but he doesn't plan out the order of which each segment will happen unless it involves a 2nd party (ie. How 2 Life Good and Bird Peterson's 1 hour remix). Because of his choices of emotes and ability to "hang out" with chat, he is able to understand the vibe of the stream and is able to choose which segment or clip to play next depending on how the chat is responding. Besides the couple of segments stated earlier, he doesn't have a specific timeline he needs to reach and can do any segment whenever it feels right.

With the emotes, he will know when the chat is itching for a specific segment. He then can put specific requirements he wants chat to fulfill before going to that segment. (ie. subscription goals, hype train completions, etc.). These requests would normally be seen as excessive on most other streams, but viewers will gladly and proudly fulfill these requests. The main reason this works is because his community appreciates the work he puts into the stream and Zack over delivers on production value and entertainment for what in reality is a free stream.

We've gone into his use of segments and his emotes, but we didn't even get into the amount of time, effort, and work he has to put in for each segment for his stream. From curating content to organizing it into a consumable format to developing it into an actual segment to completing each segment to what we see on screen, much of the work he actually does is never fully seen by the viewer.

Zack puts in countless amount of hours into planning out his Thursday streams to give the viewers the most entertaining stream he can. He only streams twice a week, but puts a week's worth of work into those streams.

FCZ is innovating and many creators should take notes on how he is able to do what he is doing. He creates an environment where people want to stay tuned in and stay active in his chat and at the end of the day that is the recipe for success on such a platform.

Four Color Zack is making the complex look simple. He is doing the job of an entire broadcast crew while also performing live to an audience seamlessly. He stays in tune with the needs of the audience, while truly not missing a beat (pun intended). He understands his audience and curates the best show he can for them.

This Thursday, tune into his stream: Look at the unique and interactive community he has created. Appreciate the work he has put in behind the scenes. Understand the specific choices he has made.

Even though COVID-19 has made life difficult, we would not have the Four Color Zack streams we have today without it. With hardship brings innovation and Four Color Zack is definitely innovating.

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