Ludwig’s Offbrand Agency Will Create Content For xQc, Other Streamers
Now Ahgren, 27, is starting a creative agency called Offbrand to share that secret sauce with other creatives. It might sound like a plan to cut off the leg he currently has on everyone else, but that’s kind of the idea: Ahgren knows his career as a content creator isn’t meant to last. Instead of fearing this inevitability, he embraces it.
“I’ve always accepted the fact that there will be a time when my career will end,” Ahgren told The Washington Post. “When I’m 45, I’ll definitely be [too] out of touch to get this on Twitch or YouTube. …Rather than fearing that and trying to maintain success as long as possible, I like the idea of helping other creators create things that I think are cool.
Offbrand, co-founded by Ahgren alongside longtime collaborator and manager Nick Allen, content creator Nathan Stanz and former Twitch marketer Brandon Ewing, is an agency and studio that will help creators with their own events and series from all angles: ideas, production and financing. The latter is essential because events – even more than a live stream of video games with a high-end PC and high-end broadcast equipment – are expensive. In July, Ahgren said his popular YouTube game show Mogul Money Live lost him and his team $149,500. With that in mind, Allen explained that Offbrand does the work of finding partnerships and sponsorships that make sense for every event or series it helps create.
“We don’t seek any upfront investment from the creators we work with,” Allen said. “We want to take that on board and help them benefit not only from creating great content, but also from not being heavyweight, whether through actual work or monetary means.”
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Already, Offbrand has developed a series for fellow creator, North American Twitch King Felix “xQc” Lengyel. On September 30, Lengyel will premiere the fruits of that labor: a six-part live game show titled “Juiced” that sees teams of two go head-to-head in real-life physical and trivial competitions. It’s inspired by Nickelodeon game shows from the 90s, right down to the part where the losers are doused in green slime – only in this case it’s called getting ‘juiced’, and the goo in question emerges from a huge recreation of Lengyel’s nose.
Lengyel is not a streamer you typically associate with planned and rehearsed production like this. He’s the kind of creator who prefers to stream from his own bedroom for more than 10 hours a day, playing video games, reacting to YouTube videos and, until a recent Twitch crackdown, gaming. But Twitch is a platform where top creators regularly interact, and even though Ahgren moved to YouTube late last year, he’s still very much a part of the Twitch community. He knows everyone and he is part of it. This gives Offbrand traction that other agencies and studios cannot match.
“I think it would be extremely difficult for another group of people to go to xQc even with the best show in the world and say, ‘You should do this,'” Stanz said.
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But Lengyel, in particular, is a great representative of the downside of trying to turn streamers into polished, brand-friendly performers: some are messy. Lengyel has spent the past few weeks embroiled in numerous personal disputes turned into public controversies stemming from his relationship, a gathering of popular streamers he was supposed to attend earlier this month and streamers spreading other people’s dirty laundry in response to calls for the game to be banned on the platform.
Still, Stanz pointed out that while Hollywood stars are keeping the closet a little tighter on their skeletons, it’s not like their personal lives don’t regularly bleed into their jobs, too.
“It’s something that happens in the media a ton, but because [xQc] is a Twitch streamer, it’s something that’s a bit more public,” Stanz said. “I think we’re not the first to have to work with talent who is going through something, and we’re not the first to help them, whether through the show or other means.”
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For Ahgren, turning to events makes sense in a time when more heavy streamers are starting to realize that streaming more than 200 hours a month leads to burnout.
“If you’re live ten hours a day, you’re a zombie after that because you’re putting everything you have into that time to try and entertain viewers who are watching,” Ahgren said. “It’s better to think about what you’re going to broadcast for 80 hours and then broadcast for 80 hours a month – after a certain rating point – than to just broadcast 160 hours without a plan.”
Even before his greatest successes, Ahgren’s approach was based on planning. Soon after he started streaming, he realized that just going live on Twitch and waiting for viewers to show up was no longer enough. Instead, he pondered how concepts — like the aforementioned month-long subscription marathon or a recurring segment where he let his Twitch chat spend his real money on Amazon — would play out in low-key videos and well packaged on YouTube. Now, with even top Twitch creators like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Imane “Pokimane” Anys becoming more platform independent, Ahgren thinks this approach makes more sense than ever.
“There are creators out there who all they do is stream, and if they just put in a few hours a week, I think they could be doing the biggest thing they’re doing this year- there or maybe in their streaming careers,” Ahgren said. “Part of the idea is to not just create an event that gets good views on the live stream. Let’s do an event that will be watched on YouTube. Let’s do an event where clips will explode on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter. more of a piece of culture than good live stream numbers.
“It may not be less stressful,” he added, noting that there is still anxiety and pressure in planning, scheduling and hosting, “but it will definitely ensure that your career will last longer.I think it’s a more sustainable way to stream.
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That’s not to say, however, that this option is available to all creators – or even most of them. Offbrand doesn’t rule out the idea of working with smaller creators, but they bring with them their own host of challenges.
“I’ve been working with a creator for about six months now,” Ahgren said. “It started with an average of about ten viewers, and the goal was to see if I could coach this creator to become as big as possible. What I noticed in the process was that ‘there’s a lot about finding your own voice as a creator, in the early stages, which would make it difficult to create a show or an event [around].”
After “Juiced”, Offbrand plans to produce and co-produce a few more events for Ahgren, including a “Chessboxing” championship in December which will iterate and parody the influencer boxing trend that has been ignited in recent years thanks to YouTubers like Jake Paul. After that, the company will base the frequency of events on demand from creators.
As for Ahgren, he doesn’t plan to end his streaming career just yet, but he knows the time is right.
“When I started streaming, I said I would do it for five years and then I would quit,” Ahgren said. “I’m at the four-year-old helm right now. I don’t think I’m going to finish after five years, but I definitely think there’s a point where I’m going to stop being a top designer, and Offbrand is my way of continuing to create and make things that I find cool… to always have the same joy of doing something that I’m proud of.