Royalty Free Music and Other Tips to Protect Your Twitch Channel
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This will help prevent your content from being deleted when Twitch cracks down on streamers with copyrighted music.

After the Twitch streamers' videos were deleted without prior notice due to copyright infringement in October, many wondered what to do. The bulk deletion of Video on Demand (VoDs) – past streams archived for later viewing – and clips came after Twitch received an unprecedented number of DMCA deactivation notifications from record labels causing the streaming platform to do so without prior warning take their users first.

TV logo twitching. Image via Postmodern Studio.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, signed in 1998, is a combination of several copyright laws that protect copyright owners on the Internet. Platforms protect themselves from liability for copyright infringement by enforcing DMCA deactivation notices issued by copyright holders on their users. At Twitch, this means removing content with copyrighted elements (e.g. music) and banning users with repeated violations.

Twitch used to notify streamers before taking action, but by the summer of 2020 record labels were sending tons of notifications to Twitch of the shutdown. Instead of sending out streamer notifications to remove streamers and giving streamers the opportunity to contest the claim, Twitch deleted any content that had received a DMCA deactivation notification from record labels.

Although Twitch has not banned users who have committed a violation, it has given users a one-time warning. The way Twitch handled the situation left a sour taste in the mouth of the streamers, which sparked backlash and heavy media coverage. Although Twitch apologized and promised to make better tools for streamers, fears remain that the work of the streamers will be deleted or banned for good.

For streamers who rely on Twitch as their primary source of income, this can be hard to miss. The whole thing is a mess, but there is a simple and relatively inexpensive solution – using royalty-free music from Premium Beat.

Why use royalty-free music from PremiumBeat?

According to Twitch, 99% of DMCA deactivation notifications received from record labels related to music playing in the background of the stream. Using royalty-free music is the solution that allows streamers to access affordable tracks to play while-streaming and for any other project. PremiumBeat offers high-quality, royalty-free music that is non-infringing on copyright.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept of royalties, it's pretty easy. Once you've purchased a license, which is a one-time fee, you can use the track as many times as you want on as many projects as you want (although there are a few exceptions based on the type of license). The standard license is the go-to place for developers on the internet as it covers projects hosted on streaming platforms, social media, websites and podcasts. If a project falls within the scope of the standard license, it's fair to use it as often as possible at no extra charge.

Standard licenseThe standard license applies to videos and other online content.

PremiumBeat lets you search for songs based on genre or mood. Alternatively, you can browse the collections curated for specific projects and situations. While browsing, you can listen to the entire track to see if it suits your needs. After purchasing a license, you can download the full title, short versions of the title, or a looped version that you can stitch together to create the illusion of a title running. You also have the option to download the title in WAV or MP3 format.

In addition to being practical, PremiumBeat offers security to streamers and online developers. If you are into licensing royalty-free music from PremiumBeat, the next section can help.

Try the PremiumBeat library for free

PremiumBeat offers a small selection of curated tracks that are free to download and use. You can view the selection of free, curated, and royalty-free music here, or you can select Free Songs from the Advanced Filter menu on the PremiumBeat website.

Once you get the license, which does not cost anything, you can run the track however you want, provided it is within the scope of the standard license. If you're looking for a few tracks to spice up your stream or create videos on YouTube, these are the ones you should check out. If you like what you see, PremiumBeat's monthly subscription is the best deal for royalty-free music.

With the monthly subscription you will always receive stream-ready songs

Typically, a standard license for a PremiumBeat song costs $ 49. However, the new monthly subscription offers five titles for a monthly fee of $ 64.95. Every month you can download five new songs and add royalty-free music to your library to use as often as you want. Once you have obtained the license for a track, you can keep it even if you no longer pay for the service.

While $ 64.95 is roughly the price of a new game, the subscription is many times cheaper than buying individual licenses. A subscription gives you five titles each month at $ 12.99 each instead of $ 49 for one title, a savings of 70%.

It's worth noting that there is a three month commitment when you first sign up and you will be billed for the full three months, even if you cancel before the commitment is met. Unused credits will not be carried over to the next month. So use them up!

Here's how to protect your account and streams

For those who rely on Twitch as a stable source of income, a ban could have adverse financial implications. While the latest DMCA deactivation actions targeted and deleted archived videos and clips that were in violation of copyright law, it is still detrimental to streamers who spent hours creating this unique content. While this isn't ideal, there are a few steps that streamers can take to keep them from being banned or their content deleted.

Step 1: Don't use copyrighted music

Avoid copyrighted musicAvoid copyrighted music. Image via Naulicrea.

It really is, and it's a big one. Unless you own the rights to the copyrighted music in question or you do not license the music, you should not play it. Unless you have the express permission of the artist or the copyright owner, you should also not use the music. It doesn't matter if the music is from an unknown artist. It's still copyrighted unless it's in the public domain or under a Creative Commons license.

If you have any doubts about whether the music is copyrighted or not, stay away from it. In some cases, something as trivial as the chimes of a grandfather clock – via polygon – triggered a DMCA breakdown on Twitch.

To recap, don't play copyrighted music unless you meet the following criteria:

  • You own the rights to the music.
  • You have permission from the artist or the copyright holder to use the music.
  • You have a license for the music that covers your intended use.
  • The music is licensed under a Creative Commons license, which may have some restrictions and require you to honor the artist.
  • The music is old enough to be in the public domain. In this case, the copyright has expired and is no longer protected.

Step 2: use royalty-free music

Use royalty-free musicUsing royalty-free music is the safe way to go when curating music for your project. Image via ss_comm.

Using music in the background of a stream makes sense. It enlivens the electricity, sets the mood and fills the silence with something. However, you cannot use copyrighted music unless you meet the criteria listed above. With Twitch now using copyrighted music more strictly than ever, it's best to stay away and find an alternative.

As mentioned above, royalty free music is the most convenient way to use music in your streams. While it's not free to use, you can use as much royalty-free music as you want after purchasing a license. Of course, if you're musically interested, create music for your streams. For everyone else, buying royalty-free music licenses is the best way to go.

Step 3: delete previous streams of copyrighted music

As much as it sucks, Twitch recommends going through each VoD individually if you think you've used copyrighted music in the past. Offensive clips and VoDs should be removed from the platform to prevent Twitch from taking action in the future. If you don't, you may be temporarily banned.

Deleting all of this work is a bummer, and Twitch doesn't have great tools to help you out. A tool that can delete all of the clips at once is handy, but it sticks, especially for developers with a large backlog.

Twitch promises better tools for streamers in the future, as well as ways for streamers to challenge DMCA notifications. Right now, deleting old videos with copyrighted music is the best option to keep yourself safe.

Step 4: Muting Games Containing Copyrighted Music

When playing games in the stream, there may be cases where copyrighted music is playing in the game. This is one of the most difficult areas to navigate. Twitch recommends muting the stream as a panacea, but muting the game isn't that easy if you're playing rhythm games or other games that depend heavily on music. Muting the stream sounds like a simple solution, but it isn't. The bad advice has resulted in funny footage from various streamers, as reported by PCMag.

The best course of action seems to be to mute the stream that I know is awful, but the alternatives – bans and content deletions – are worse. In a Twitch post on music-related copyright claims, Twitch recommended reading the EULA (End User License Agreement) for a particular game. The EULA may include text about music and streaming that clarifies whether it is possible to stream the music in-game.

In response to Twitch's DMCA shutdowns, games like Cyberpunk 2077 have built-in options that will turn off copyrighted music in the game. If it's not possible to turn off copyrighted music in a game, it's probably best to mute it to be sure. However, you can choose not to do so at your own risk as Twitch claims they don't get many in-game music removal notifications.

Step 5: Twitch Soundtrack is good and (mostly) bad

Soundtrack from TwitchTwitch's soundtrack, available only on PC, is compatible with OBS. The software has several playlists to choose from. Image via Twitch.

Twitch's Soundtrack is a tool / service that allows streamers to access licensed music that can be used in the stream. Soundtrack features music from a variety of genres and is much better than empty silence, but there is one major caveat.

Using Sountrack's music in a Twitch stream is fine, but you can't use the same music in archived streams. Soundtrack music plays on a separate track that is not recorded when the tool is used properly. This means that when a stream is archived, there will be no soundtrack music, which is a completely different experience for users watching VoDs or clips. If the tool is set up incorrectly – if the audio from the game and microphone is in the same track as the soundtrack – entire sections of VoDs with soundtrack music can be muted. Read the FAQ to correctly set up Soundtrack with OBS.

The whole situation is difficult, and even if the soundtrack is set up properly, the content changes. Sure, Soundtrack is a nice patch for streamers looking for a way to play background music, but like all patches, it just offers a break from a bigger problem.

Royalty-free = worry-free

Protect yourselfThe most effective way to be sure is to avoid using any copyrighted music at all! Image via Iconic Bestiary.

Worrying about what music to use is not what streaming is about. Copyright protection laws are good for all creative people – you don't want others to use your work for free – but they do affect how content creators do their jobs on the internet. The best way to get around the punishment for using copyrighted music on the stream is to not use it at all.

PremiumBeat's license-free music library supports streamers and other creatives in their work without having to worry about copyright. Whether you want some songs to play the background of a stream, or you're looking for a title for a YouTube or podcast intro, PremiumBeat probably has what you're looking for. First, check out this music collection curated for Twitch or sign up for the monthly subscription today.

For more tips and tricks about music, check out the following articles:

Cover picture about Gorodenkoff.

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