Losing Sleep Over Money? TikTokers and Twitchers are Pros at It

TikTok

TikTokHundreds of TikTokers have begun live-streaming themselves overnight, while they sleep!

Many creators dream of waking up to viral fame and riches these days. Now that dream is beginning to look a lot like reality. Hundreds of TikTokers have begun live-streaming themselves overnight, while they sleep. Brian Hector, 18, did it just last week. Thousands of people tuned in. Some even donated to him. “I woke up the next morning and ended the live and went over to my mom and was like, ‘Mom, I literally just made money falling asleep,’” said Mr. Hector, who has more than 347,000 followers on the app.

Through TikTok’s live feature, viewers can donate digital “coins” that can be cashed out for money. On Mr. Hector’s first sleep stream, he said, he received about US$10 worth of coins – not riches, exactly, but more than he’d usually be paid to go to sleep (US$0).

What most users hope to gain from these sleep streams are followers. “Overnight my video blew up, and I got over 6,000 new followers,” said Oscar Reyes, 18. “After I stopped the stream I lost followers, so I don’t know if people were just following for the stream, but I grew substantially. I went from 12,000 to 18,600 followers.”

Every second Saturday between the hours of midnight and 4:20 am, 26-year-old Mikkel Nielsen is tortured with loud noises, flashing lights, and electric shocks. With a camera pointed at his cartoon bedding, the Dane tries to sleep while around 1,000 people watch live on Twitch. Typically, around a hundred of these viewers donate money during the stream—the amount donated affects Nielson’s environment. For $1, viewers can type a message that a bot will read aloud to Nielson, waking him up. For $95, they can zap him via a shock bracelet wrapped around his wrist.

Nielsen is an “interactive sleep streamer,” a type of content creator burgeoning on Twitch and TikTok. In 2020, WIRED covered the rise of sleep streamers- but these early adopters simply filmed themselves slumbering peacefully, a phenomenon that seems quaintly antiquated once you’ve watched a man scream and punch his mattress while a high-pitched whine rings through his speakers. This new cadre of sleep streamers doesn’t really sleep. They rig their rooms so that every online donation corresponds to action- more often than not, one that is loud and annoying.

Nielsen uses the program Lumia Stream to connect his smart lights to his social media, and viewers regularly wake him up with a bright burst. The program If This Then That also enables him to connect different devices so that, for example, a donation on Twitch can zap his electric shock bracelet or blast out a YouTube video. Once, a neighbor’s boyfriend knocked on Nielsen’s door at 3 am to make a noise complaint, but after that, he bought $200 of booze for each of his neighbors to apologize- he hasn’t received a complaint since.

Reendex

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