Nathan Cavaleri knows more than most about the enormous highs and the despairing lows of a life in showbiz.

A cancer survivor, Cavaleri experienced the rollercoaster ride of fame from a young age, a child prodigy with a national — no, international — profile, and the challenges that come with growing up in the public eye.

As a youngster, the guitar hero performed for presidents (Bill Clinton) and movie stars (Tom Cruise), with rock stars (Mark Knopfler, BB King), did the rounds of U.S. talk shows, and appeared on Baywatch, then the most-popular TV show on the planet.

After the highs, the lows.

Cavaleri battled with severe fatigue that spiraled into depression and triggered his return to Australia, where he took time out from music.

Refreshed, and back on form, Cavaleri was the subject of an Australian Story profile, which aired last year on the ABC.

With his comeback in full swing, Cavaleri released a new album, Demons, in 2020, and scored a spot on the Bluesfest bill.

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But due to the pandemic and the lockdowns that come with it, festivals and full-scale touring will have to wait.  

Enter Twitch.

With the “child prodigy” tag thankfully in the rearview mirror, Cavaleri, now aged 39, is tapping into new audiences, thanks to the streaming platform made popular with gamers.

Twitch has captured more than clicks and eyeballs. It’s created a new income revenue for the artist.

Cavaleri’s first experience on Twitch had him play on gamer Paul “Pestily” Licari’s livestream to 125,000 viewers, a fundraiser for Starlight Foundation, an organisation that played such a pivotal role through his childhood.

Pestily was able to raise $1.25 million for the children’s charity via his Twitch platform in the space of 12 months.

As a way of saying thanks, Nathan created a jam live on Twitch which is now his stream theme song. It’s been heard tens of millions of times, exposing his music to a new audience.

The numbers are in.

Through Nathan’s collaboration with Pestily, his first month on Twitch saw him land over 3,000 followers and $950 in income from subscribers.

Ever since, he has devoted 2-3 hours streaming, two days per week, and generated over $20,000 in 12 months.

At 15 months, his channel had over 754 subscribers and 4 million views, averaging 600 unique live viewers per stream.

In August, average monthly revenue was $4,217 net in subscribers alone. 

Those numbers are up. This month, his account is up to 20,500 followers and 950 subscribers which has paid him $6,500 net (after Twitch takes its cut).

Nathan even had a fan spontaneously dump $5,000 onto his channel during a 30-minute stream, according to a spokesperson for Cavaleri.

The platform has also connected Nathan with sponsors, including Journey Makr, with whom he joined forces on the Tasmanian leg of his Demons tour earlier this year.

Taking the Twitch experience further, Cavaleri will create his next album live on Twitch in 2022.

TIO caught up with Cavaleri for a glimpse into his new media world.

Watch Nathan Cavaleri perform ‘Demons’:

How did the Pestily connection come about? Did you have any idea that Twitch could give your career a boost, or was it just for fun?

Synchronicity brought Paul and I together via the Starlight Foundation. I was speaking and performing at their Five Chef Fundraising events and found myself sitting next to him for dinner and drinks.

I not only discovered that he was one of the most famous gaming personalities on Twitch but a huge contributor to the Starlight cause.

We clicked straight away. My passion for finding new ways to connect online lead us into a very inspiring and exciting conversation about Twitch.

I must admit, I trivialised his advice to start on Twitch. I was already feeling quite overextended with existing social media platforms.

I never thought that a platform that was originally for gamers would have such a massive impact on my career and my creativity as a whole.

Starting on Twitch has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.

How did the “Australian Story” feature give your career a lift? Was there a noticeable impact on your socials, ticket sales or streams?

The only way I was going to share the depths of my life story was by partnering up with a team like ABC’s Australian Story who keep it “real”.

The feature aligned with what I’m about both as a person and artist.

It coincided with the release of my album Demons and a national tour. Whilst there are no hard analytics to judge the relationship between ticket sales and the feature, the fact that shows were selling out and music streams were peaking with very little marketing within a week of it’s airing is a pretty strong indicator of it’s positive impact.

I did one tour pre-Australian Story, which was a major contrast.

It’s also a great body of work to have loaded when connecting with new communities.

Nathan Cavaleri

How do you approach Twitch on a day-to-day basis? Is it now part of your job? And are you enjoying it?

Many artists will agree that social media can seductively work it’s way up the priority list compromising the one thing only us artists can do – create music.

I made a pact to myself that if I was going to launch on Twitch, it needed to integrate into my daily life in a way that enhances creativity and inspires energy.

This meant basing my streams around the things I love – performing, socialising, writing, recording, mixing and talking.

Through being “me”, I’d ideally attract a compatible community and I’ve achieved exactly that and more… revenue.

Last month it hit me as I received a pay slip from “Twitch”.

Instead of me having to pay for my own time to create an album by taking time off work, it’s been funded by my amazing community.

The last time I received funding to record an album, it was when I was signed to Michael Jackson’s label and Mushroom but I had to pay it back (laughs).

The money is of course the catalyst that allows me to continue to do what I love whilst growing my community.

There’s no way in the world I’d spend 60 hours per month on a platform if I didn’t love the experience.

Presumably, Twitch has connected you to young people. Folks who don’t remember you as a child prodigy. Has that been encouraging for your career?

Someone called me “young vintage” a couple years ago. It felt like a compliment with a backhander but I suppose it’s true.

Given my history, my bulk demographic was 35-45 and 55-plus. Parents and kids of the mid-’90s.

However since Twitch, as well as the revelation of “Demons” contrasting to the music I’m most known for, analytics reveal the top age group is now 28-34 followed by 23-27 which has balanced out our overall demographic in a way that reflects who I am as an artist.

There’s a side note. Twitch is not just filled with under-30s. They come from all walks of life. That’s what makes it so special.