The Rise of DIY Culture: Crafting and Cooking Live Streams in Singapore

They then compare the mediums of crafting and cooking in live streams, arguing that cooking has a much larger audience due to food being a staple of life in Singapore, while crafting takes a bit of a backseat due to the perception of crafting as a hobby catered towards women. The authors give solid background information on how the two activities are normally conducted in Singapore as well as during live streams. This will allow the reader to have a solid idea of what crafting and cooking are like in Singapore, as it is crucial to understand the cultural context of how people are accustomed to performing these activities.

Here, the authors talk about the broader context of crafting and recipe streaming in Singapore. They focus on the medium of live video streaming through websites such as Twitch.tv. They discuss the history and significance of live streaming¬†Singapore, starting with the popularity of Garena, an instant messaging platform that has grown into an online gaming server for gamers to congregate. This led to the opening up of YouTube Live and Twitch.tv, which are more directed towards an international audience. They cite an article by Leslie Fong where he says that Twitch.tv’s popularity in Singapore coincided with the release of its mobile app, which allowed for streaming and viewing of streams to take place at any time of the day.

Background of live streaming in Singapore

Today, live streaming Singapore has evolved to cover an array of content beyond gaming, ranging from podcasts and talk shows to live musical performances.

It was only around 2013-2014 that live streaming really started to gain attention from the general public. This was spurred by the successful and rapid growth of Twitch, which resulted in an increasing number of streamers and viewers worldwide. Twitch is a live streaming video platform owned by Amazon, and its global success meant that Singaporeans were also exposed to more diverse content in terms of the games that were being streamed and the streamers themselves. With a mixture of entertainment value and interactivity, live streaming quickly established itself as a source of quality homegrown entertainment. An influential group of streamers formed the Twitch Singapore Community, and their efforts to organize meet-ups and stream content between one another helped to further grow the live streaming community in Singapore.

Live streaming began to gain significant traction in Singapore in 2012, with the launch of events and tournament organization by the Singapore Cybersports and Online Gaming Association (SCOGA). These events were covered by platforms such as Twitch and can be considered the initial push for the rise of live streaming in Singapore. Live streams of such events were rather niche and targeted at gamers.

The popularity of live streaming in Singapore has grown exponentially over the last decade, moving from static cam shots in cyber cafes to professional studio set-ups in the homes of various influencers. Live streaming is the broadcasting of real-time, live video to an audience over the internet. This can be done via platforms such as Twitch, YouTube Live, and even Facebook Live. Live streamers are able to interact with their viewers through a chat, in which they are able to receive comments or questions related to the content that is being broadcasted. This sense of real-time communication and feedback provided by live streaming is a large part of its appeal as compared to videos or content that is pre-recorded.

Growth of DIY culture in Singapore

Viewers have the means to interact with the streamer gaining valuable insight and feedback of the craft, or be inspired to take it up themselves. The objective of the stream is still to have a finished product, but the process is equally or more important than the end quality while being an engaging form of content available to the public.

Live streaming has been identified as an emerging platform for crafting and promoting DIY content, linking into existing culture and context. Live streaming provides a platform for artisans to interact and engage with their audience, and puts on display the inherent process of crafting and the live “tutorial” of doing something on the fly such as cooking at an expense as entertainment. This can be seen with artistic streamers drawing and painting art, as well as cooking streamers doing live commentary off the cuff while demonstrating their preparation and cooking of a dish.

Platforms like Twitch and Youtube are more geared towards gaming and video content, but creatives have taken to those platforms doing various things live or as produced content because it is more readily available and publicisable free of charge to a wide audience. This type of mentality ties in with the crafting aspect of DIY culture, where people are doing what they want at their own expense to carve out something that is unique to them.

Creative content has been expanding in Singapore, thanks to the variety of internet platforms where creators can produce and release their content. DIY (do-it-yourself) culture has been on the rise on these platforms, with creators building their own content from scratch and following through with it to produce a finished product. This can range from content such as drawing and video editing, to crafting around the house. Platforms enable creators to create content catered to what they want to do, and something they think should be available to the public to facet out the existing content available.

Cooking Live Streams

There is a growing community of Singaporean live streamers and viewers who have taken to platforms such as Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and Twitch to eat up the content. Cherylshuen, a 23-year-old full-time live streamer on Twitch and former educator for special needs children, has been experimenting with a new carrot cake recipe for the past few months on her streams. “Both viewers and streamers of such content are leaning towards healthier food choices and experimenting with fusion recipes and trying to improvise traditional ones,” she explains. Personality, interaction, wholesome content, and trying to get her viewing audience to embrace a healthier lifestyle are what she identifies as the main difference between live streamers and conventional TV cooking shows.

Cooking live streams have become the single largest DIY food trend worldwide, and Singapore is no exception. While conventional cooking shows on terrestrial TV are usually very controlled and polished, amateur cooks in Singapore are taking to live stream their culinary exploits. They typically interact with their viewers in real time, and 55% of the time it tends to be a one-on-one exchange. Tellingly, 65% of Twitch’s food and drink content is now non-gaming. Live streaming is fundamentally of the moment – the audience sees the successes and failures of a recipe in real time, and this unscripted, unfiltered aspect to it can be very engaging. That is something that 35-year-old Lance Lian, a civil servant and dedicated foodie, can attest to. “I started watching cooking live streams on Twitch to learn new recipes and techniques. Live streams feel more interactive and personal as compared to pre-recorded shows, and I can ask the streamer for advice or clarify any doubts that I have on the spot. This is something that I cannot do with traditional TV shows, but can be very constructive and helpful when trying out a new recipe.” 27-year-old Chanel Lam also shares the same sentiment. “It’s quite endearing to watch someone who is not a professional chef cook. Live streams are legit, and there is a certain charm in watching someone try their best to put a decent meal together in real time.”

Rise of cooking live streams in Singapore

Live videos also tend to be more casual and unscripted compared to a pre-recorded one. This again allows for a more natural two-way communication between the streamer and the viewers.

An example being a Nuffnang survey which showed that over 50 percent of Singaporeans aged 18-45 eat out at hawker centres, coffee shops, fast food outlets, and food courts at least four times a week. Imagine that you are a stallholder at a hawker centre that sells a particular dish and you have a regular customer who usually buys that dish once a week. One day you are not present and your customer finds that you are not at work that day. He would likely feel disappointed and have his craving for that dish go unsatisfied. Now translate that into a scenario where a live streamer has a regular viewer who enjoys his content. If the streamer fails to do a scheduled video, his viewer would likewise feel disappointed. A recording simply cannot replace something that is done in real time.

With the boom in social media in recent years with platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the internet has become a major marketplace for anything and everything. One of the reasons is that such live videos are a way of engaging an audience, which is something that cannot be done with a pre-recorded video. A live stream effectively provides a two-way communication between the streamer and the viewers where viewers can ask questions, request to see specific things being done, and have them answered/completed in real time. Compared to an uploaded video where viewers can only leave comments and hope for a reply, live videos are, in a way, providing a service to their viewers.

The current phenomenon of live videos that seemed to have swept the world in recent years is an interesting one. This time, we zoom in specifically on cooking live videos in Singapore. One might wonder how cooking shows have evolved into something that is live and online. Couldn’t one just use a recording? Well, surprisingly there are several reasons as to why this has become a trend in recent years.

Famous cooking live streamers in Singapore

Maureen Ow and Nat Ho had kept in contact since last year when Maureen interviewed Nat Ho in English and asked how his journey with cooking began, until she found out he spoke Mandarin and conducted a second impromptu interview in Mandarin. Since then, Maureen has constantly teased him about how to whip up a few easy-to-cook hawker dishes for her column projects and stated that he would fit well into the Makansutra family. This collaboration between the actor and the food experts will not only allow Nat Ho to improve his cooking skills but also provide some entertainment for the viewers. Nat Ho plans to invite guests over in the future because he thinks it would be interesting to see how a non-cook would take on the cooking challenge. He is also considering doing some street interviews relevant to hawker dishes, and his guests would whip up these dishes live.

Nat Ho is a local actor attempting to step out of his comfort zone as he cooks on his live stream “Wok it with Mr. Ho.” He shifted his viewers from laughing along with his jokes to drooling over his dishes. This switch from entertainment to food has not only caught the eyes of the viewers but also other food bloggers such as Dr. Leslie Tay and Maureen Ow. Both of them had interviewed Nat Ho separately and approached him to collaborate on video projects. Dr. Leslie Tay was the first to initiate a collaboration, and together they did a live cook-off between CKT and Hokkien Mee, chatted about his acting career, and even made a music video.

Recipes and techniques shared on cooking live streams

What differentiates a cooking live stream from a cooking programme is the ability for live streaming to create interactivity between the streamer and their audience that allows for a two-way communication. As seen from the case of Delishar, the questions asked over live chat allow for the clarification of doubts in viewers who are trying out her recipes. The interaction also allows the streamer to gather feedback to improve on their content for future shows. Cooking techniques can be difficult to express in words, and demonstrating it firsthand may be the best way to convey the technique. An example would be the showing of various techniques to wrap zongzi. Live streaming also allows viewers to watch the entire process of cooking or baking a dish from the preparation to the cooking and finally the plating. Cooking programmes on local TV most of the time only do a 10-minute cooking demonstration of a dish due to time constraints. Live streaming does not have such limitations, and thus live streamers are able to give a more detailed explanation and demonstration of the cooking process. This would appeal to viewers who are beginners in cooking as it would provide them with a deeper understanding of the dish they are trying to cook.

Impact of DIY Culture and Live Streaming in Singapore

Due to the usefulness of live streaming, there is a possibility that it can be used as a tool for community-based crafting workshops to reach out to public audiences or even as an alternative educational tool for kids on school holiday periods.

These sessions have managed to attract a global audience of live viewers, and the Craft Geeks community has gained visibility and attention from internet users seeking crafting ideas and solutions. Through live streaming, audience interaction becomes possible via comments, and it can further strengthen the connections between the community and their viewers. With the ability to convey the mood and context of crafted items in a video broadcast, it is a more engaging and enriching way to showcase the passion for crafting.

The ease and speed of access to knowledge or skills from live streaming can be an attractive learning experience for many. A good example would be recipe sharing and learning in cooking shows, where viewers can get step-by-step instructions on cooking a dish. An established crafting community known as the Singapore Craft Geeks, consisting of various age groups, discovered the potential of live streaming through platforms like Google+ and Hangouts on Air to be an invaluable tool for learning and sharing skills. Within a short time with minimal promotion, an informal group of crafting sessions evolved into live broadcast crafting sessions, without the group actively recruiting members since anyone who had interest could find live shows published on YouTube events.

This trend has managed to bring together and integrate local communities of like-minded people who have similar interests in crafting and cooking. Live streaming serves as a global platform for individuals to interact and learn from others. It is an experiential learning process where viewers can log on, and the hosts can engage them in many ways, like through tutorial sessions, sharing of ideas, and also troubleshooting with the viewers.

It is without question that the rise of DIY culture and the increasing popularity of crafting and cooking live streaming have made a significant impact on local communities, individuals, and even the economy. There are both positive and negative implications, as well as opportunities and challenges, that may affect this culture in many ways.

Influence on local communities and individuals

The live streaming medium empowers individuals and communities to make or do things, and to connect with others who are like-minded. According to Rheingold (2002), he stated that “The community that forms around some exemplary weblogs, the blogs of some high-profile blogger or the organized discussion of political activity in a country that has no free press, could turn out to accelerate something that might be important.” In this case, there is a tight-knit community that forms around crafting and cooking live streams, such as the community on Twitch that centers around “The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.” Viewers have formed a community focused on their love of painting and learning from the live art demonstrations done on stream. Such communities are often inclusive and encouraging, allowing anyone to have a go to improve their skills and to receive feedback from others within the community. This inclusive nature opens doors for individuals to experience improvement in skills or learning something new. Those that feel successful in making progress in their endeavors would feel a sense of achievement and higher self-esteem. Failure to progress would often result in an encouragement to try again and to not give up. An exemplary case at hand would be a crafting streamer where her failure at the first attempt of making an amigurumi toy led her to try again and eventually improve from the guide given to her by viewers of her stream.

Economic implications and opportunities

Streaming platform Twitch.tv has been particularly influential in helping to expand the DIY culture as a whole, allowing anyone to live stream creative content and build an audience. Christopher Edginton, a lecturer in communication and New Media at the National University of Singapore, estimates that there are more than 10,000 Singaporeans live streaming content on Twitch. The flexibility and low barriers to entry of live streaming compared to television or even YouTube, where any individual with a laptop and an internet connection can start their own channel, makes it a particularly attractive medium. Being an international platform with a predominantly Western audience, streaming on Twitch also encourages Singaporeans to use English and communicate with people from other countries, inadvertently helping to improve our standard of English and globalize our culture.

With Singaporeans consistently spending less on dining out and more on dining in amidst the rise of live streaming cooking shows and ease of access to gourmet recipes, there is an apparent reduction in consumption of commercial food services. This is proven by a 66% preference for home-cooked food among Singaporeans as of 2015, up from 51% in 2011. Although some of this money is redirected and spent on better cooking equipment and ingredients, as mentioned above, the reduction in reliance on commercial food services will lead to a long-term reduction of expenditure in this area.

Challenges and future prospects

Lastly, one of the biggest challenges will be to actually prove the worth of taking up streaming as a profession. Till now, the industry is at a nascent stage and many parents and traditional thinkers may not find this as a good profession. People do not understand the value of the content and how it can reach and affect the global audience. The content creators need to actually showcase the change in their lifestyles and their content and the possibility to reach a global audience in a cost-effective manner.

Technical issues and platform issues are the most common things related to live streaming. Though these are trivial, there will be times when these can be frustrating. Some connectivity issues will miss the audience and it can be frustrating to the streamer too. The biggest challenge is to adapt to the dynamic technical changes that happen to the platforms and preventive maintenance of issues with lesser downtime.

The next important task is to get the right audience. This is said because a large number of audience and getting the right kind of audience are two different things. Getting the right audience is essential to sustain in the game of live streaming and DIY culture. A niche audience can understand and appreciate your content better than the larger audience of different mindsets. For influencers and content creators, getting the right audience also helps to sustain and earn income from the content to support and improve it.

The foremost task is to actually build a community using live streaming. Building an audience might look easy and the same as other social media platforms, but it demands quite an effort to create a live streaming community. Joining communities on platforms like Twitch and being active on social media during live streams to know the audience feedback and appreciation of your content and acting upon the feedback to improve can actually help to build a community.

Messaging should contain helps to communicate you and your brand message. Your offering and the unique value proposition that you are putting across to your audience.

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