Copyrighted music – one of the biggest headaches for us streamers.
Songs help with the quiet moments, but you should not be relying on it for your content.
Music can add flavor between games, and some streamers even choose to play it throughout, to complement content. It can work great and help hype viewers, but there is an important catch:
Mainstream music or not, those songs belong to someone. And someone else’s work is not free to use however you like. Radio stations pay to play music on their channel and have a license for everything they use. You as a streamer will need to do the same.
Platforms handle copyright infringement differently, according to their own site policies. Twitch policy, for example, mutes the VoD for the sections of your stream session that violate copyright, preventing VoD viewers from enjoying your stream and preventing you from repurposing that session’s content on other platforms. YouTube will claim and remove your content, taking your ad revenue. Further, if the music publisher puts a strike on you by filing a claim, then you could be banned from streaming on that platform for 3 months. This ban can potentially end your streaming career.
Even videos that are relatively old – going back years – can receive claims and lead to strikes being placed against streamers, arguing that the streamer used the copyrighted content to grow their audience. You never know when down the road someone may try to come after you, so pay attention and follow the law and your platforms’ policies from the beginning, before and during your stream or other content creation.
To be clear, it is not the platforms’ job to give you permission to use other people’s content – it is up to you to find music that works and is legal. Never assume legality, as even in-game music – whether originals published by a game’s developers or mainstream tunes featured in games like GTA – can be risky to use on stream. Curate a safe-for-use playlist in advance, or use music from the services we’ve listed below.
Royalty-Free Music Services:
- Free to use
- Pretzel Rocks: a Pipeline partner with hours of music safe for streaming on Twitch, Mixer, YouTube, and Facebook
- Royalty Free Music on Soundcloud: Soundcloud station featuring royalty-free music from a wide variety of genres
- NoCopyrightSounds: YouTube channel featuring no-copyright songs and playlists
- Facebook Sound Collection: part of Facebook’s Creator Studio, these songs can be streamed directly through Facebook or Instagram
- Audio Library on YouTube: part of the YouTube Creator studio, featuring free, no-copyright songs for download
- Paid subscription
- Pretzel Premium: for $4.99 per month, an extension of Pretzel that gives direct support to musicians, removes the free version’s requirement for mandatory chat attribution, and provides access to a Discord support channel
- Epidemic Sounds: offers unlimited access to 30,000+ songs and 60,000+ sound effects, catering to “individual creators on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitch.” Costs $15 per month, or 13 euros, after a free trial.
- Bensound: downloadable, royalty-free songs for about $160, or 139 euros, for the first year