How to find the best background music for your Twitch Streams
Live streaming has grown at an unprecedented rate over the last few years, with Twitch being the undisputed leader in the sector. Twitch streamers enhance their videos with the use of sound effects and music, either to create ambience, entertain, or simply share their favourite tunes with their followers. However, in many cases, they do so without any knowledge of whether or not they have permission to use music in the first place.
More often than not, commercial music is protected by copyright laws. This means that there is a person or organisation who owns the rights of use for the song. They have the power to decide who will be allowed to use their music, the conditions that will apply to anyone who uses the song, and ask for financial compensation in return for a license.
It doesn’t matter whether the song is coming from the radio, a soundtrack to a game or Spotify – if it has a copyright, you need a license! Fortunately, there are options available that will help you to find the right music for your project, like Music Cellar, our library of royalty free music
So, what is the best way to find background music that you can use in Twitch streams? We’ll tell you how, along with some need-to-know information on Twitch music rules.
It is safe to play music on Twitch provided that:
- you own the copyright to the music
- the music is public domain or copyright-cleared
- you have a license or permission to use it.
A common misconception surrounds the “fair use” policy, where people believe it’s safe to play short, maybe seconds long, clips of songs. This is not accurate, and will count as a violation, no matter how short the section is. People believe this because short clips often sneak through the detection algorithms and avoid removal, but if reported, short clips face the same consequences.
Ultimately, if the music is copyrighted, permission is needed for rebroadcast.
Without permission or a license, it is technically illegal to play commercial artists’ music on Twitch, as this counts as a violation of copyright laws. These laws are in place to protect creators, artists, and their works, from exploitation – using someone's work without compensating for time and effort is arguably theft.
Even if the music was bought legally, from iTunes or Google Music for example, the purchase doesn’t contain the rights to broadcast the song, or use it in other works. Buying music in this form only covers personal and private listening.
To avoid violating copyright laws, the owner's permission or a license agreement must be secured for usage.
As for covers and remixes, it depends on how much of the original material is in the song. Again, if the cover song is owned by an artist, a license is required. By playing a cover of a song on a live stream you are combining the intellectual property of the artist with your own video on a public platform, so you may need either a mechanical or a synchronization license, depending on the song.
For full information on Twitch’s music policy, see their Music Guidelines here.
The rules for playing music from Spotify on Twitch streams are the same as any kind of music – the original copyright owner's permission is still required.
Paying for a Spotify subscription doesn’t include any kind of license or permission for broadcast, the subscription only covers private use and listening. This means if a Twitch channel plays any music from Spotify (without the owner's permission), it is at risk of receiving DMCA violation strikes – starting with a temporary ban, finishing with a permanent ban after three strikes.
There are a few different methods to get permission to play songs on a Twitch stream:
- Contact the artist or management directly, and negotiate a synchronisation license to use their music.
More than likely the artist will want money for the use. There isn’t a flat rate for music synchronisation licenses, the artist will charge how much they believe it‘s worth considering their profile.
Small artists may charge anywhere from $50–$300, with the biggest names potentially asking for $10k+ per use. Film houses and advertisers have been known to pay upwards from $50k to use popular hit songs.
- Use a music library.
This is a more affordable solution. There are many online music libraries available which provide customers with licensed and copyright cleared music to use in their own work. These libraries often have many different genres and styles of music to perfectly match the mood, and are a great place to look to find background music for Twitch streams. Pricing models vary from library to library; some offer full access to use any of their content on a subscription, others license tracks one at a time with a fee per song.
At Accusonus we have our own music library – Music Cellar. This is a FREE collection of licensed music to use fearlessly on Twitch and other platforms. Use these premium tracks in any project at no cost. Music Cellar is curated into genres and moods, making it quick and easy to find the perfect vibe.
There are many types of music you can play on Twitch.
Copyright free music is a category of music which, for one reason or another, is not under legal copyright. This means that it can be played in Twitch streams. Public domain and Creative Commons music can also be played, although sometimes it will need to be credited.
Music libraries are another good option for finding stream safe music, and as mentioned before, we have our own free library of copyright-cleared music for easy and safe use in stream and video. Download songs from Music Cellar here, or check out this article for further information on finding good background music for streaming.
Stream-Safe music mode is a handy setting in Twitch that prevents copyrighted music from being streamed. A scenario where this could be used might be when live streaming a video game. Some games contain copyrighted music, so these sections would need to be muted, but for the rest of the stream the audience would want to hear the sound effects and dialogue. This setting protects streamers from accidentally violating copyright and receiving DMCA strikes.
This feature can be turned on in the stream settings, under “only play stream-safe music”.
Twitch Music Library was a collection of music free to use in Twitch videos and streams. This service was sadly discontinued, but has since been replaced by Soundtrack.
Soundtrack by Twitch is a curated library of copyright cleared music. This means all of the music is safe to use in Twitch streams, and won’t be removed for copyright violation or receive DMCA strikes. The Soundtrack library is only licensed to Twitch, and cannot be used on other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.
Soundtrack hosts music from all kinds of artists, in partnership with distributors including Distrokid, CDBaby, Soundcloud and more.
The tracks are organised into themed playlists, making it easy to find the right moods of music, examples include Dance, Lofi beats, Rap, Chilling, Beats to Stream to, and many more.
There are many platforms that provide copyright free music for Twitch. Some are free, whereas others charge either on a subscription or per song basis.
Some good platforms include:
It's also possible to find public domain music, that is, music which is now outside its copyright and now free to use for everyone. Check out our guide explaining this subject in more detail.
A general rule for using music on Twitch is as follows: if you own the music, feel free to use it – if you don’t own it, don’t use it.
Don’t get this confused with ”owning” a download: when you buy a song off iTunes or Amazon Music you don’t own the song, you’re just paying to be able to listen to it. There are websites where you can buy copyright licenses to use other peoples songs.
Any music you make yourself will generally be fine to use, as you are the copyright holder. Be careful if your tracks contain samples from copyrighted songs though.
For full information on Twitch’s music policy, see their Music Guidelines section here.
Twitch uses DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) strikes to handle the process of punishing users for illicitly using copyrighted material. Each time Twitch detects an improper use of music, the specific section will be muted, the video may be suspended, and upon further violations, the account may be permanently banned.
Channels which commit DMCA violations will be notified of their infringement and subsequent punishment via email, or when logging in to the website or software. It's a three strike system:
- the first DMCA strike committed will result in a 24 hour ban to the Twitch channel
- the second strike will leave an account banned from 1–7 days
- the third strike results in the account being banned from Twitch forever.
These strikes stay on the account record permanently, so it’s best to avoid receiving them as much as possible.
Twitch has a system to report copyright infringement if an artist believes their work is being used illegally. These copyright claims will be made by the original owner of the material, which could be the artist, their record label or management, or even a fan.
Twitch also scans videos with an algorithm to automatically detect and remove copyrighted material. Sections of videos containing unauthorised audio will be muted.
Sometimes the algorithm makes mistakes and incorrectly mutes videos. In this situation an appeal can be made to Twitch to reverse the strike. For full details on appealing copyright claims on Twitch, see this page.
Twitch accounts will be suspended for impermissibly playing copyrighted music, for the first two strikes. However, they will take this a step further if there are further infringements in the channel’s content. On the third DMCA violation, the account will be permanently and irretrievably banned.