How did they get there, anyway? Is constantly creating and building an audience really as easy as it seems, or is it all just smoke and mirrors? Because sometimes, the future looks…bleak. In a sea of influencers, how do you stand out?
From music to streaming
According to Mike, it all started in 2018. He and his DJ, Owen Bones, had finished up a tour with The Cool Kids, their group, and they decided to link up and make more music in the meantime.
“So we began making music and came up with Mystery School as the musical group. Then we made an EP with about eight, nine songs on there.”
Soon, they were ready for a release, which meant they had to grow their audience. Even though the duo already had a music project going, they knew they had to start over when it came to growing a fanbase. Well, how do you do that? The guys asked themselves that same question. And you know, Twitter or IG is fine for getting eyes on you, but expecting actual interaction from a community on the apps isn’t as promising. It’s just “likes” and vibes.
“And I’m like, I don’t want, like, a fan base that I can talk to that I know.” he recalls. “Instagram and Twitter just weren’t really the spaces for that it seemed like so we thought about Twitch.”
Why use Twitch to build an audience?
If you’ve never been, your first time on Twitch will be a trip. But it’s the platform to catch gaming, lifestyle, and other random content from streamers. No account required.
“You can see and be in the community, engage the community, talk, build rapport, build friendships, build that relationship with your fan base, or you can just like, you know, hope to go viral on Instagram, or hit a like, or, you know, hit 1000-2000 likes or whatever you deem as viral and leave it at that.”
As he puts it, Twitch just has that vibe for real audience growth. Not only that, but you can customize your Twitch channel any way you want. To them, it was a no-brainer. So, the Mystery School, the platform’s first late-night show, officially premiered on Twitch, and officially became the way for the duo to get their name out.
How to dress the part
Sir Mike is known for his fashion game as much as he’s known for his other creative ventures. A designer himself (keep your eyes open for a line coming soon), he takes great pride in making sure his style represents him—especially on stage. One thing about Mike is that you’ll never see what he’s wearing on anyone else. How does he go about perfecting his wardrobe?
“I go pretty much everywhere for clothes,” he says. “But first and foremost, you can never go wrong with a thrift store.” He expresses that in a thrift store, you can let your individuality speak for you. You can find things from years past that fit perfectly. Maybe the perfect shirt or jacket.
Another secret weapon of his? The suburbs. If you live in a suburban area, he notes that you have to check out their outlet malls. “My buddy came to visit me in the ‘burbs once, and he was shocked that he could find the Jordans that were sold out everywhere. He went to a store called Lids in a mall and bought all the snapbacks he couldn’t cop in NYC. I laughed and told him it’s the place to be!”
So when you see Mike step out on stage, whether it be in limited edition Levi’s, his signature Timbs, or a navy army jacket he copped from a Village Discount Outlet in the Chi, know that it was meticulously picked with a purpose—and by using the resources around him.
The road to success is defined by you
With a mix of timely content, interactive games, offering inputs on merch and future shows, and exclusive music drops, Mike and Owen were able to slowly amass an audience. Sometimes, they were featured on the front page of Twitch, where people can drop into streams. Mike explains that his audience grew exponentially that way, because fans saw something to relate to. Eventually, people started to take notice.
“And slowly but surely, like, people started to really recognize what the show was, and think that it was funny because it was cool. And you know, people just started to pick up from there.”
That happened to start more often as they kept doing the show. With a consistent schedule and fresh content 3 times a week, Mystery School began to soar with popularity. They were even able to take clips of their shows and share them on Twitter, migrating some of their internet presence between platforms.
“And about two years later, we’re contracted partners with Twitch, we’ve been flown out to perform at their big convention TwitchCon. We are probably in the top 1% of like, music, and late night show streamers on the platform when it comes to engagement.”
Eventually, the Mystery School hosts are looking to become more than online late night stars and music acts. It’s all about building the brand, you know? And with consistency and planning, anything is possible.
Photos via Mystery School, Michael Salisbury