Music makes Twitch live streams much more enjoyable, but after the DMCA takedowns, which marked the second half of 2020, things are not the same anymore on the world’s most popular video game streaming platform.
If you are a Twitch broadcaster willing to add music to the stream, there are some things you need to be aware of.
In the guide below, we cover everything you should know about the current rules regarding playing music on stream and avoiding copyright strikes on Twitch.
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What Is DMCA?
If you’ve been away for a while, taking a pause from streaming on Twitch, chances are you are not familiar with all the DMCA drama. Worry not, though, as many viewers and streamers seem to be in the same shoes.
To get a better understanding of what DMCA is, please read the following paragraphs.
DMCA stands short for The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and it’s a set of US laws that allows creators to share their content, in this case, music, with digital service providers such as Twitch.
Complying with DMCA, which is what Twitch does, means allow the creator a right to file a complaint against a broadcaster who may be using the artist’s content without permission, in this case, a license. Then, the streamer’s content gets taken down and the channel gets a copyright strike.
So, the short answer for the “can you play copyrighted music on Twitch” question is no, not unless you have a license for the music.
Now that you know what DMCA is, let’s take a look at how it can affect your channel.
How Can DMCA Affect My Twitch Channel?
On Twitch, channels are issued a strike, which is similar to a warning, whenever the owner breaks the rules and does something that’s against the policy.
Channels can take two strikes before the final third one, permanently bans it from the platform.
The first strike issues a twenty-four-hour ban, while the second one results in a penalty that may vary between one or two days and a whole week.
Twitch allows users to check the current status of copyright strikes on your account. Follow the steps below if you wish to check whether your account has been flagged one or multiple times.
- Open Twitch in your browser of choice and sign in to your account.
- Click on the avatar icon in the top-right corner and select Video Producer from the menu.
In the top-right corner, you can see the copyright strike count, which should be zero if your account was never flagged.
With that said, channel owners should give their best to avoid receiving a strike, which is why the following section will help you find the best music to play on your streams without putting yourself at risk.
Finding Copyright-Free Music To Play On Twitch
Even if you paid for a song on platforms such as iTunes or Google Music, you still don’t have the right to re-distribute that music on Twitch to others. Take a look at the image below which is a screenshot of a paragraph taken from the official Twitch guidelines article.
This often confuses broadcasters and happens to be one of the main reasons channels are issued a strike.
Luckily, there are quite a few online libraries where you can find copyright-free music to play during your Twitch streams.
The best place to start is this Twitch Music Reddit Megathread, which, unfortunately, not many people know about. It’s a place where members of the Twitch community share the copyright-free music they created, as well as other useful sources and libraries you can benefit from.
Other great sources include pretzel.rocks, which is designed specifically for streamers, and this often-updated royalty-free playlist on YouTube of amazing rock music.
You can use songs from these two sources in any project without worrying about being “DMCA’d”, as the Twitch community likes to call it.
Last but not least, Soundtrack by Twitch is a tool that allows streamers to choose a song to play during their broadcast from a broad collection, with all the music in this library being rights-free.
How To Play Music On Twitch?
If you are new to streaming and not sure how to play music on Twitch, this section will cover the basics in a simplified manner which is easy to understand.
There are two ways to play music during a Twitch stream, one being more convenient and flexible, while the other is less resource-heavy.
As for the technical point of view, you don’t have to do anything more than playing the music as you normally would when you were to listen all by yourself. The streaming software will pick it up and viewers will be able to hear it.
As for the two methods mentioned above, here’s what you need to know:
Playing music through Spotify or any other online platform will consume more resources, and streaming is already resource-heavy, especially when your bandwidth is taken into consideration. But, this method is a lot more flexible as you can easily swap to a different song or a playlist, and keep the stream “fresh” at all times.
The other method is downloading music locally on your PC, then creating a playlist and using a program like VLC player, for example, to play it. This way your bandwidth is not impacted by you playing the music for the viewers, but if you don’t modify your playlist often, the stream can become boring over time.
Playing music on your Twitch stream makes the viewer’s watching experience so much better, but with the latest DMCA strikes, it’s not as easy to do so as before.
Luckily, many artists don’t copyright their work and allow you to use their music during broadcasts without putting your channel at risk.
Ultimately, if you do want to play certain copyrighted songs, purchasing a distribution license is always an option, though one that costs quite a lot.