As live events start coming back after a pandemic-induced hiatus, one of the major organizations in Seattle’s local livestreaming scene has taken the opportunity to reorganize its events and community.
The Seattle Online Broadcasters’ Association (SOBA) is a group that’s dedicated to providing local livestreamers and content creators with “a resource for collaboration, education, and mutual support,” according to its website. As of May, it’s officially established as a non-profit.
Since 2015, SOBA has provided Seattle’s broadcasters with opportunities to network, pool information, and learn from one another. Twitch’s growth has brought it along with its network of broadcasters unexpected challenges, including ongoing issues at the Recording Industry Association of America. SOBA was there to assist its members in this environment.
SOBA had organized an informal get-together in Seattle for members before the 2020 quarantine lockdown. It was held at GameWorks arcade bar. SOBA has recently relaunched this monthly meeting, having held its first in August shortly after GameWorks Seattle opened.
Attendees quickly realized that the organization was taking time to reconsider its business practices. They had corporate sponsorships and were more proactive.
“The break from monthly meetups allowed the team to sit down and think about what SOBA could look like in several years,” Kenley Cheung, SOBA’s director of production & education, told GeekWire.
“We had a lot of time to gather feedback and input from broadcasters both inside and outside the community,” Cheung continued. “This shaped our belief that we need continuous and effective feedback mechanisms to ensure that our activities, programming, and events are delivering value to broadcasters.”
Officially establishing SOBA, a non-profit 501(c),6 with a membership programme; appointing an advisory board; and seeking additional investments in professional and learning development programs such as panel discussions and workshops.
“The community has told us that our professional development workshops on topics like Interviewing and Hosting Improv for Content Creators have helped them become better content creators,” Cheung said, “and set them up for professional opportunities in the space.”
SOBA’s events for October are primarily focused on this weekend’s TwitchCon in San Diego. Panels organized by SOBA include “How to Become a Virtual Content Creator,” hosted by Portland, Ore.-based variety streamer Kisaka Toriama; “So You Want to Stream Art?” by live artist PokuriMio; and “Getting Started,” about the challenges of community organization on Twitch, hosted by Cheung.
SOBA’s various teams are presently run by volunteers, with events organized via its official Discord server. Its monthly session is typically scheduled via Twitch’s Community Meetup feature.
“Going forward,” Cheung said, “we plan on continuing our mission to support and elevate content creators by investing in the growth of our events and programming. We build supportive spaces for creators.”