When Twitch users want music for their stream, they will want to avoid popular music at all costs (pun intended). No one wants to get into a losing battle over playing music on Twitch and get a takedown notice, or, worse, find out their account has been terminated.
Some people might think that understanding Twitch music rules might be difficult. However, Twitch music guidelines are relatively easy to grasp, and finding Twitch-approved music for streams shouldn’t be too hard at all.
Below is a breakdown of the most relevant information about music for Twitch streamers. It will not only help you understand Twitch music rules but help any creator who aspires to become a Twitch streamer.
What are Twitch music rules?
The easiest way to break down Twitch music guidelines is into 2 categories: the music you can use and the music you cannot use.
Here are the songs that fall under the category of Twitch-approved music:
- Music made by Twitch users – In other words, original music written and/or recorded by the user. If your music is on a label, be sure to first clear song usage with your label.
- Music licensed by Twitch users - Music that the Twitch user has licensed from its copyright holders.
- 'Soundtrack by Twitch' - This is music streamed using the company’s Soundtrack by Twitch feature.
- 'Twitch Sings' Performance - A vocal performance of a song captured during Twitch Sings gameplay. It must observe Twitch’s Terms of Service. However, this service was shut down on January 1st, 2021.
To recap, if you’re making your own songs, it's considered Twitch-safe music—unless you’re on a label and they don’t want you to. If you happen to license a song, you could use that too, unless the license prohibits it from being used on streaming services.
If you haven’t already, check out the rules for 'Soundtrack by Twitch' and 'Twitch Sings'. These are 2 good options for music that you can use in Twitch streams.
Another option, which Twitch's music rules don’t mention, is that users can hire a composer to write and/or record music for their channel. While this can be cool, it can also get expensive, so be sure that you really want a composer to make your Twitch channels music before hiring them.
Here are the songs that cannot be used for Twitch music:
- Any music with copyright that the user hasn’t licensed
- DJ sets or live performances by musical artists
- Song cover, karaoke, and lip-sync performances
- Music from radio broadcasts
- Any type of visual representation of copyrighted music (lyrics, notation, tablature, etc.)
There are several ways how to check if a song is copyrighted, but a hard and fast rule is that if another artist wrote, recorded or performed the song in any other medium, you better avoid using it as your Twitch background music. Now let's answer some questions streamers might have regarding music use in streams.
Where can I find music for Twitch?
Once you have a good understanding of Twitch's rules for music usage, you will likely be wondering where to find Twitch-approved music.
The good news is that you have several options, and they are divided into free music and music you need to pay in order to use.
The free music options include public domain, Creative Commons and music made free by the songwriter and/or recording artist. Paid music can mean either licensed popular music (which is highly expensive), hiring a composer (also highly expensive) and royalty-free music (more affordable). When it comes to platforms that provide royalty-free music \you can use on Twitch streams, there are those that require you to pay per song (the more expensive option) and those that offer a subscription-based license (the more affordable option). As it happens, Artlist falls under the category of subscription-based royalty-free music platforms. We will get into all the options shortly, and you will make up your mind as to what music best suits your needs.
Where can I find free music for Twitch?
When we talk about free music, we usually mean non-copyrighted music, which is music that either belongs in the public domain, under one of the Creative Commons licenses or just music made available by its recording artist.
Public domain music is any song or recording whose rights are now open for use by the public.
The databases that feature this type of music, like Musopen, Open Music Archive, Freesound, the YouTube Music Library and others but don’t always offer great music. Although occasionally you can find some real gems. Also, old public domain songs might not be a great fit when it comes to playing music on Twitch.
Music protected by free licenses, like Creative Commons, means songs or recordings that songwriters or recording artists have made free, sometimes with conditions (can’t be used in television commercials, for instance). There are several types of Creatove Commons licenses, and you can check them out on their website.
Where can I find royalty-free music for Twitch?
Some royalty-free music licensing platforms are great for content creators like Twitch users. These platforms were created to simplify music licensing and make it accessible to all content creators.
Artlist, for instance, helps Twitch users avoid copyright infringement and DMCA Twitch music strikes and simplifies other legal details for users. In short, Artlist subscriptions allow users to license a song for any type of use, whenever they like.
How to search for the best royalty-free music for your Twitch stream on a licensing platform
Most platforms have several ways of searching for high-quality royalty-free music for Twitch. If you’re a Twitch user, you might be looking for specific sounds.
On Artlist, for instance, you can search the music library by Mood. This includes moods like Uplifting, Playful, Tense and others. Another option is filtering by Genre. In this way, you can look for Ambient, Hip Hop, indie rock and so on. Another great feature on Artlist is the new 'Exclude' filter, with which you can narrow your search by excluding results from any genre, instrument, mood or video theme. For example, you can look for Rock songs that don't feature a Piano or are not Sad or neither.
You can also search for royalty-free music by Tempo and Duration or sort the songs by Popularity or Date Added to the catalog.
Other things to think about
Remember, if you want to use music by one of your favorite artists, don’t. There is no sense in getting a takedown notice—it’s a headache you don’t need. If you’re unsure if a song or recording is usable, it’s probably best not to use it, just to be on the safe side.
When looking at royalty-free music subscription platforms, pay attention to licensing details. Artlist doesn’t put any conditions on how the license is used. So, be sure to look for the following specific restrictions when looking for royalty-free music:
- Number of songs users can download
- Any limits on where songs can be used
- Limits on the number of times a song can be used
For your Twitch music library, make sure the royalty-free license includes:
- Unlimited song downloads
- No restrictions as to which type of video the song can be used in, or any restrictions on the number of videos it can be used in
- Any song is yours to be used, even if the user license expires.
Hope you found this guide for Twitch-approved music useful and that you understand that if you play music that violates the DMCA, Twitch will take it down. And it could take down your whole stream.
DJ Pangburn is a New York-based journalist, videographer, and fiction writer, with bylines at Vice, Fast Company, Dazed and Confused, and other publications. DJ records ambient techno and IDM under the name Holoscene.