Twitch Launches Rights-Cleared Music, Without Major Labels On Board
Remember when Jeff Bezos was asked if Amazon-owned livestreaming platform Twitch was licensed for recorded music — and he didn’t know?
Well, it’s licensed now… but not by the major record companies. Instead, Twitch has struck licensing deals with a clutch of global distributors that work with indie artists, in addition to a handful of indie labels from around the world. The repertoire of these distributors — including more than a million tracks by those independent acts — will now be available, fully rights-cleared to be used by Twitch streamers.
Twitch announced today (September 30th) that it’s been developing a new creator tool for the past year called Soundtrack by Twitch, offering rights-cleared music for livestreams via partnerships with a number of labels and distributors.
At launch, Soundtrack will have more than a million tracks available from over 30 music companies, including the likes of UnitedMasters, DistroKid, CDBaby, Anjunabeats, SoundCloud, EMPIRE, Future Classic and Nuclear Blast. All independent businesses — which obviously means no deals with Sony, Universal or Warner.
It also appears not to be licensed by independent label agency Merlin, whose members include indie label giants likes Beggars Group, Kobalt’s AWAL and Secretly Group.
The Soundtrack beta, which launches today and rolls out to all Twitch streamers over the next few weeks, features genre-focused Stations and Playlists of regularly updated curated tracks. The Playlists and Stations are curated by Twitch music curation staff, as well as “select streamers and industry partners” and Twitch states that its in-house curation team will be adding new Playlists and Stations regularly.
Artists include Above & Beyond, mxmtoon, Porter Robinson, RAC, SwuM, and many others. Other musicians, labels and publishers can visit this help page to learn how to get their music in Soundtrack.
According to Twitch, music from Soundtrack will be separated into its own audio channel so that music can be played during livestreams “without worrying about your archives being muted or receiving strikes against your Twitch channel.”
The “strikes” Twitch is referring to are copyright infringement notices, which multiple prominent Twitch users reported to have received from Twitch earlier this year for unlicensed music used in clips posted on their channels.
The company then threatened to terminate the accounts of “repeat infringers” and claimed that it was taking this action against its users because it had received “a sudden influx of DMCA takedown requests for clips with background music from 2017-19.”
This happened because of Twitch being legally required to comply with Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown requests served by rights-holders (like record labels) or an entity representing rightsholders like the RIAA, in order to be protected under US safe harbor laws — and thus, like YouTube, not be liable for infringing user generated content. It will obviously need to continue complying with takedown requests for music it hasn’t licensed.
The launch of Soundtrack by Twitch highlights the platform’s growing prominence in the music industry. In April, Twitch announced the hire of Tracy Chan as Head of Product and Engineering for Music, who the company poached from Spotify, where he was the Director of Product Management.
The following month, SoundCloud (one of the launch partners for Soundtrack by Twitch) launched a slate of originally produced live programming on Twitch, featuring artists, producers, and industry experts.
At the start of September, Amazon Music partnered with Twitch to incorporate its live streaming functionality into the Amazon Music app on IOS and Android.
“We know how important music is to your creative process, and have heard how frustrating it is to understand and navigate the complex and evolving music ecosystem,” said Twitch on its blog post announcing Soundtrack today. “Soundtrack gives you access to a curated collection of rights-cleared music and integrates with your streaming software to separate your audio sources, allowing you to keep your channel safe while you create compelling content and grow as a creator. Soundtrack’s vast library of songs from fresh, independent artists are all cleared for worldwide listening during your live streams.”
Steve Stoute, Founder & CEO of UnitedMasters, said: “This launch from Twitch is a gamechanger for independent artists everywhere.”
Ghazi Shami, CEO and Founder of EMPIRE, added: “Gaming and music drive today’s culture and Soundtrack is the next essential step to support this thriving community.”
Philip Kaplan, Founder/CEO of DistroKid, added: “Twitch is quickly becoming a dominant force in the music industry, and DistroKid’s million+ artists can all benefit from Soundtrack.”
Anjunabeats said: “We’re thrilled to bring a selection of our catalogue to Soundtrack. The crossover between gaming and dance music runs deep, and it’s a thrill for us when fans discover our catalogue through a Twitch creator.”
Jeff Ponchick VP, Head of Repost at SoundCloud, added: “We Believe that Twitch is a companion platform to SoundCloud in that we are both passionate about helping creators make a living through their audiences online, on their own terms.
“We are excited to partner with such a like minded platform In an effort to build towards a uniform goal of creator empowerment.”
Don Diablo added: “I believe that the best moments in life bring us together. Great moments deserve great music. I am grateful and excited to contribute to the Twitch community by making my music available on Soundtrack to fuel new memories.”
Dig Dis! said: “We think that Soundtrack offers a great chance not only for streamers to be able to find some great music for their streams but also for artists and their music to be discovered and recognized.”
mxmtoon said: “I was excited to participate in Soundtrack because I know how much my own audience loves to listen to music alongside me, and the thought of allowing other creators the opportunity to have access to my music was extremely exciting.”
This article originally appeared on Music Business Worldwide.