If you are an active streamer I can only assume how many times you have used some music in your streams. Choosing to add music to your streams can be a fun thing to do, whether you play some background music or even if you are a DJ and have your own mixers and DJ sets.
- You can use your own music (the music you made) freely and unafraid
- You can use music that was copyrighted to you by the owner or license holder
Be very, very careful about the copyright rules, you can lose your channel if you break them.
And frankly, you could do all this without any problems until a short while ago. Now things are no so transparent. Now more than ever we have all these “new Twitch music rules” that we have to follow.
Here I’m going to try and clarify things to the best of my ability, and try to help you grasp all this so you can have a fun Twitch experience.
Table of Contents
Important Things to know About DMCA Takedowns
Let’s first start by explaining what DMCA actually is. The DMCA or the digital millennium copyright act was put together in 1998 to protect creators, to make sure people weren’t taking their music or their videos and using them without their consent.
What DMCA basically does is it lets somebody who wrote a song or made a video identify an unfair use of that content and then ask to be compensated or have it taken down. And that is exactly what is happening here on Twitch.
A lot of creators or the companies that represent their IP rights are simply not allowing you to use their music anymore without paying them.
Why is this happening now?
Your next question must be; Why is this happening now? The answer to that is quite simple. Basically, years ago Twitch just wasn’t a big enough deal, and because of that rights holders just didn’t care that much about it or didn’t even know about it in many cases.
Obviously, that has not been true for a while now, which has been a big deal mainstream-wise for a few years at this point.
And above all, it’s not the case that Twitch has changed over the last few years. Its terms of service with respect to music as far as I know are unchanged. What’s different now is that it seems like rights holders are being more aggressive.
And all that is basically happening now and not seven years ago only because of the much greater popularity of Twitch and better knowledge among people who are in a position to enforce their rights regarding their music.
Things that went wrong when all this happened
When Twitch started to enforce this, all of their content creators freaked out. And you really can’t blame them, as I said above Twitch didn’t really give much attention to Copyright laws in the past.
I presume that was because they were still a smaller company and thought they could get away with it. Therefore, when the company grew so did the borderline on the copyright rules.
And now all the content creators that were playing music on Twitch and didn’t have rights to it are getting all of their content removed. And I must say that this isn’t fair solely because Twitch didn’t give any notice on this subject until it was too late.
And now a bunch of creators are scared that they could get their content removed and their income reduced solely because they played some background music that they shouldn’t have.
And not only that your content can be removed but also you can lose your whole account. How is that you must ask? Well, when you violate the copyright law you can get a copyright strike on your account, and three strikes and you are out of the picture.
That means your Twitch account can be deleted and for some people, notably the biggest names on the platform that can be devastating.
And yes all this is happening even though people play music on their live stream all the time, and thought of as the norm for years. And what’s “funny” about this is that it has always more or less been illegal.
To me, the most staggering thing about this situation is the sheer volume of strikes we saw over some period of time. That led me to a hunch that it’s possible Twitch has started to automate checking for copyright infringement much as YouTube has been doing for years.
Related: Best Copyright Free Music for Twitch
Important Things to Know About Twitch Music Rules
Okay, I know that was a lot of info about copyright law and copyrighted music on Twitch but I felt like I needed to get you up to speed. But what does this actually mean for Twitch and for live streaming and of course for all you streamers out there?
Here I’m going to present to you three big Twitch music rules so that you won’t ever again have to ask can I play music on Twitch and have problems with copyrighted music:
And if your question is; can I play Spotify on Twitch or any other music that you bought (I tunes and so on)? The answer is no, by buying music from platforms you only have the license to listen to that music and not distribute that same music.
Therefore, if you want to play music on Twitch you must do as the 3 steps above suggest, so choose your playlist wisely.
The scary thing about this is that this law that is enforced right now is more than 20 years old, the law just doesn’t move fast enough. Some lawyers that are studying this particular matter are saying that the law is definitely way behind and there is no doubt about it.
In this particular instance, the issue that Twitch could ban people for their infringement of copyright, but there are many ways that you can change copyright laws so that what people are doing while streaming is not an infringement of copyright.
What worries me is that this might not be limited to just vods and clips because companies like Warner have invested in software that is able to detect DMCA violations live.
So, this means some of these takedowns could happen live. So, ask yourself can you play music on Twitch actually?
The real thing about this is that this could easily get worse before it gets better. And honestly, I think it might be time for Twitch to step up to the plate a little here.
As part of the DMCA, Twitch as a streaming platform is required to inform its creators about their responsibilities when it comes to IP stuff. That being said, outside of FAQ-style guidelines they don’t really do much to help you out.
Like if you are a 17-year-old kid starting on Twitch how are you supposed to know any of this stuff. The difficulty with this legal stuff is that this law is 20 years old, they had no idea that in 20 years people would be hopping on Twitch and playing Fortnite with music when they were 15.
A big part of why they don’t do a ton of stuff is that in order to abide by the idea that they are not liable for things, that they are just a passive platform they are afraid of taking too much affirmative control in situations like this.
And for years this has just been happening, thousands of hours of people playing music with very little IP punishment. All that happened was your vods got muted.
So, basically, Twitch has left their content creators in the dark about this music situation for years, and obviously, the streamers themselves are to blame too.
But when you think about this platform, it has been making millions of dollars and the least they could do is tell that 17-year-old kid, that maybe he should be playing Drake’s latest song on his Twitch channel while playing his favorite video game.
How to Avoid Spending Money on Licensed Music
I presume the first thing to pop to your mind is; How can I follow all these guidelines and what music can you play on Twitch without spending a serious amount on licenses that can cost up to several thousands of dollars depending on the artist.
Well, luckily for you there is a company that is basically stepping in like a middle man and doing the job for you. The company is called Royalty free music. Basically what they do is, establish relationships with artists and record labels buying music from them, and then selling it to you at a huge cut price.
So, with them, you can easily follow all Twitch rules on music so that all of your subscribers can have the best possible experience watching you.
Also, all of you Twitch streamers can search YouTube for “copyright-free music” and there you can find a whole channel with free music that you can freely use that Twitch won’t find in violations of their DMCA terms.
I really hope this helped you in any way to better understand how to play music on Twitch, how to play music on Twitch stream, and so on.
I know that Twitch banning music has been hard on all of us, but despite this Twitch music ban we must stay strong and follow the music guidelines that we are given. Best of luck and thank you one more time.