There are many rules you must follow if you’re going to start streaming on Twitch. It’s an unfortunate fact for those that don’t like to be restricted, but for the most part, these rules help to safeguard the Twitch community. However, one rule that can confuse new streamers is the rule that states that you cannot play copyrighted audio on your stream. So, can you play music on Twitch at all? It’s an interesting question – and we’re about to answer it.
For brand-new streamers, the Twitch music license rules are complex. If you break these rules, it can lead to you receiving strikes against your account, and if you get enough, you’ll be banned from Twitch. There are other implications, such as the fact that if you regularly play copyrighted audio on stream, your ability to save VODs will be temporarily halted, and portions of your recordings will be muted.
But how do streamers play music without copyright on their streams?
How to Play Music on Twitch Streams
Well, the base concept is simple enough – anything that you play through your desktop or device will likely be picked up by your live-streaming software. If you’re using OBS Studio and you’re playing a Spotify track, for example, then that sound will be sent out far and wide on your stream. If it’s copyrighted audio, then your VOD will be muted – or you could pick up a strike if it’s a repeat occurrence.
If you’ve been in some streams on Twitch, you may have heard other creators playing music. In some cases, they’re playing music that you might believe must be copyrighted, but that’s not always the case. So, can you play music on Twitch just like them? For the most part, yes – but you just need to be careful about what you’re playing. If you’re wondering how other streamers play music without getting in trouble, there are a number of things that could be happening:
- They’re using a plug-in to stop the audio from being recorded on their VOD.
- They’re dismissive of the strikes and simply stream with the copyrighted audio right to the final warning, then stop.
- They’re playing music that is exempt from the Twitch music license rules.
- They’re playing music that they’ve arranged with Twitch (somehow) to have the right to stream it.
Can You Play Music On Twitch? Let’s Consult The Rules
According to Twitch’s ruleset:
‘You should only include music in your Twitch channel if you’re sure you have the necessary rights or authority to do so.’
They further advise that simply buying music or playing it through a subscription-based platform like Spotify or Apple Music isn’t enough. That doesn’t qualify you as a rights holder, and it can still result in a DMCA strike against your account. However, to service those looking to become a Twitch streamer, the platform does advise what can be played on the site without any repercussions.
- Original music that you own, that was created by you or is licensed by you.
- Any music streamed using ‘Soundtrack by Twitch’.
- Any music that is exempt from copyright laws, is unlicensed or has been made royalty-free.
That last note is important but tricky to get around, as you can’t really know if a particular song is truly royalty-free. There are playlists on Spotify and YouTube dedicated to hosting music that is allegedly copyright-free, but sometimes a few copyrighted, licensed tracks can be slipped in without prior warning, leaving you with a strike on your account.
It’s almost instant, too – within a few minutes of your VOD being created and checked, Twitch will know if you’ve played copyrighted audio. It’s a process driven by artificial intelligence and automated monitoring, and like videos uploaded to YouTube, every VOD is scanned for malicious or rule-breaking content.
So, if you’re trying to learn how to play music on Twitch streams, this is the kind of content you need to be watching out for.
How To Find Royalty-Free Music For Twitch?
As we’ve mentioned, there are YouTube playlists and Spotify playlists compiled specifically to give streamers a royalty-free audio stream for their broadcast. These are mostly safe, but it’s important to do your research first. It could be as simple as running a Google search on the track, playlist, or artist to determine what the status is of the licensing on that music. Otherwise, you can lean on other streamers – those that have become the most-subbed Twitch streamers with ease – to determine what’s safe to play on a Twitch stream.
There’s an application operated by Twitch called Soundtrack by Twitch, and it’s a tool that gives streamers the ability to play only safe music on their stream. It’s a library that has been curated by Twitch staff, but it has been built specifically for live streaming, and not for VODs or any other recorded content. It’s a tool that utilises multi-track audio rendering to ensure that the music can go out on the Twitch stream but it won’t be captured for the VOD.
On the surface, Soundtrack by Twitch looks quite like Spotify, offering up pre-determined playlists to suit your style of play. From EDM to hip-hop and from rock to LoFi tracks, there’s something for every streamer – and the service is totally free-to-use. Most of the tracks will be by smaller, lesser-known bands, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
What Happens If You Want to be a Music Streamer?
There are plenty of musical streamers on Twitch, and sometimes, they can walk a fine line between what’s allowed and what isn’t. For instance, if a singer was to perform a cover of a copyrighted song on Twitch, it would be permitted under the rules, but if they played that exact song in the background of the stream, they could receive a strike. It’s a confusing concept to some, but there are plenty of musical-based streamers on Twitch that can attest to the balance actually working quite well.
Some of the best music streamers on Twitch go live every day, and they’re often found to be singing, playing instruments, or at the highest level, performing with an entire band on-screen. They may be recording new songs, debuting an album, or just having fun and jamming with friends, but typically, their content won’t see them being handed a copyright strike.
So, hopefully, this guide has answered the all-important question, ‘can you play music on Twitch?’.
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