Ever since the DMCA takedowns in the second half of 2020, there's been serious confusion regarding music you can play on Twitch. Let’s dive into what the live streaming platform says about the topic, and answer the question: what music can you play on Twitch?
Cgeck out How To Tech’s video on avoiding copyright claims for Twitch and YouTube, then keep reading for a full rundown!
Following a wave of DMCA takedown requests in October 2020, Twitch deleted tons of content violating music copyright laws. Twitch uses a three-strike policy for its users – if you get three strikes, you’re banned – and streamers were not happy, to put it politely.
So, how do you steer clear from having your potential bread and butter deleted? We'll tell you all about it in this blog post.
- Can you play music on Twitch?
- Can you play music on Twitch when you stream?
- Do you have to follow the Twitch Terms of Service, and can you play copyrighted music on Twitch?
- What can happen to my channel if I play copyrighted music?
- Can you play music on Twitch if the content is music-based?
- Is Spotify music allowed on Twitch?
- Better safe than sorry
Can you play music on Twitch?
Twitch and music. You can summarize it in one word: confusing. The majority of streamers that play music in their streams do so with little regard for copyright law. However, when Twitch issues DMCA takedowns, it effectively prevents streamers from using the platform if they continue to play music they don’t have the rights for.
'What songs can I play on Twitch?' isn't as cut and dry as you might think. It’s not uncommon to find streamers playing today’s hits or yesterday’s classics, despite this being against the rules. Your favorite content creators sometimes might take song requests, giving their audience control of the tunes. The music industry hadn’t taken action in the past, but that started to change in 2018, when several popular streamers were hit with 24-hour bans for playing copyrighted music on Twitch. So, what are the Twitch music rules? The punishments? And what can you do to protect yourself?
What we’re seeing not only on Twitch, but across most streaming platforms, is an increased eagerness to respect copyright laws. People realize that creators’ intellectual property needs to be prioritized, for obvious reasons. However, listening to your moral compass doesn't mean you can’t or shouldn’t play music in your streams.
Can you play music on Twitch, then? Yes. You are allowed, as long as you follow the Twitch music rules. Let’s get into it.
Can you play music on Twitch when you stream?
Three different categories of music can be used in Twitch streams:
- Music owned by you. This is music that you create or produce yourself, or music that you've played live and recorded. Before streaming, you should also check that you have all the rights to reproduce this music, in case you have record label deals.
- Music licensed to you. This is by far the most common solution to avoid takedowns. Epidemic Sound gives you access to a catalog of tracks and sound effects that you can use freely on Twitch, and YouTube if you want to upload your recorded streams afterward. Once you're subscribed to an Epidemic Sound plan, you can safely play music without worrying about DMCA takedowns.
- Music provided through ‘Soundtrack by Twitch.’ With ‘Soundtrack by Twitch,’ you don’t have to worry about takedowns, but you’ll probably notice the smaller choice of tracks. This can be quite limiting, and is only available on Twitch. That's why streamers use Epidemic Sound – we clear music for Twitch, YouTube, Instagram, and more.
If you’re already using one of these three solutions, you’re perfectly safe to continue streaming without worrying about copyright strikes. If not, you’re probably best off subscribing to Epidemic Sound and adding your Twitch channel, and your YouTube channel if you want to upload your recorded streams. You can also use a streaming tool like OWN3D Pro, which is not only integrated with Epidemic Sound, but also has one of the largest design libraries with hundreds of overlays, alerts and handy tools for your stream.
Since Epidemic Sound owns all the financial rights to our music catalog, we can provide a direct license, and you’ll never have to worry about copyright claims again. What music can you play on Twitch? Our music.
Do you have to follow the Twitch Terms of Service, and can you play copyrighted music on Twitch?
As we mentioned above, you're not allowed to play music that you don't have the rights for. Play music without a license and you’re violating copyright law. It's that simple! Twitch’s Terms of Service and Community Guidelines explicitly say: “You may not include music you don’t own in your Twitch streams or VODs.” The Twitch TOS are there to protect users more broadly – with rules preventing in-game cheating, hacking and botting – alongside rights holders, such as music creators, producers and record labels.
Currently, many Twitch streamers unintentionally violate the law because they want to give their audiences the best experience possible. Unfortunately, including copyrighted music without proper licensing can result in takedowns, and it denies musicians the payment they deserve. With an Epidemic Sound plan, both problems are solved.
What can happen to my channel if I play copyrighted music?
There are currently two things that can happen if you play copyrighted music on Twitch. The first is the most common. If you upload your recorded Twitch streams on YouTube featuring music you don’t have a license for, you risk having your content claimed or even taken down. This often leaves massive gaps in videos where there is no audio. It’s generally considered an acceptable loss by streamers.
The second is less likely, but may become more common in the future. The punishment is a 24-hour ban on your channel. It happens when the person who owns the rights to the music you played files a DMCA takedown request against you. Famously, Maroon 5 and Juice WRLD issued mass DMCA takedowns in 2018, which saw major streamers banned for 24 hours.
The long-term effects of playing copyrighted music in your streams could be channel termination. As mentioned earlier, Twitch has a three-strike policy for DMCA takedowns. Your first offense results in a 24-hour ban, your second strike causes a 24-hour to seven-day ban, and your third means an indefinite or permanent ban on Twitch. It's worth noting that DMCA bans are never truly removed from your record. When you get banned for something else, you generally have a 90-day probation period, but DMCA bans remain part of your profile forever.
Learn more about Twitch's music guidelines here.
Can you play music on Twitch if the content is music-based?
Most people would assume 'Yes,' but... no, you can't stream music-based content! Playing games with a music focus like Just Dance, Rock Band, or osu! violates the Twitch music rules. Twitch’s Community Guidelines explicitly state that the following types of content are forbidden on the platform:
- Radio-Style Music Listening Shows
- DJ Sets
- Karaoke Performances
- Lip Sync Performances
- Visual Music Depictions
- Cover Song Performances
Is Spotify music allowed on Twitch?
Many Twitch streamers use popular music streaming services, like Spotify and Apple Music, to soundtrack their content.
The most common misconception is this: Whenever people think 'What music can you play on Twitch?', they guess that since you’re paying for a subscription, you should be allowed to use the music in your videos.
However, this isn't the case. Despite allowing you to stream their songs, Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, and more don't permit you to use this music in your content. Why? Because the royalties are still owned by the record labels or artists themselves, and not by the music streaming services.
Using music from YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify, and more for your Twitch streams is not allowed.
Better safe than sorry
For Twitch streamers to safely use songs in their videos, they can directly license royalty-free music. Royalty-free music is music that you can use in content without having to pay royalties to artists or rights holders every time it’s played. Royalty-free music doesn’t automatically include public performance rights, meaning you still might have to pay royalties when you publish it on digital platforms.
Our music is more than just royalty-free. What sets us apart is that we own all rights to our music and offer users a direct license. In fact, our model is unique in ensuring that artists are paid fairly and that storytellers are fully covered.
Synchronization rights, mechanical rights and public performance rights? All included. Additional fees or royalties? Forget about it.
More than royalty-free. More like worry-free. Check out our plans here, sign up below, and if you want a sneak peek at the 40,000 tracks you can use with Epidemic Sound, head to our Twitch music page.
Are you a Twitch streamer? Whether you’re a livestream master or just a beginner, discover what Epidemic Sound has to offer on our Epidemic Sound for Twitch page. Oh, and if you’re looking for some music for Twitch, we got your back!