Twitch Background Music

With Twitch streamers making megabucks by playing video games, it’s no surprise the competition has heated up. 

Rising to the top isn’t easy, so gamers are doing everything they can to stand out from the crowd and attract and retain an audience.

Let’s say you’ve got your game selection right, you know how to engage with your audience, and you’re able to put in enough streaming hours to draw a regular following.

Once you’ve got those critical things down, you’ve probably found a suitable overlay, maybe some custom graphics and unique alert soundswhat’s next? 

If you haven’t already guessed from the title of this article, we’re talking about music.  It’s no secret that music plays an integral part of the gaming experience, but finding the right background music for your stream might be harder than you think. 

What Does Your Audience Want?

Before considering what kind of music is right for your stream, you need to decide whether utilizing it is a good idea in the first place.

First, you need to think about whether it will suit the game you’re broadcasting.  Most single-player and campaign-based games feature meticulously crafted, integral soundtracks that amplify the gaming experience.

Think about it – would you play Skyrim while blasting heavy metal? I mean, we won’t judge you if that’s your thing, but for a lot of people, it takes away from the ambiance. 

While it’s completely up to you, our advice is that if you’re broadcasting a story-driven game, take advantage of the music you’ve been given.

On the other hand, the soundtracks of multiplayer games are rarely as dynamic. If you’re streaming something like Fortnite, Z1 Battle Royale, Minecraft or FIFA, your own background music can feel a lot more complementary.

What Type of Music?

So, you’re streaming a game that lends itself to hand-picked music, but what should you go for?

Well, it’s hard to keep your audience happy unless you know exactly what they like.  People have hugely diverse musical tastes, so it will always be a challenge pleasing everyone.

What’s more, some viewers prefer to focus on the game itself or watch channels based on what the streamer has to say, meaning they’d rather there was no backing track at all.

If you can, ask your viewers what they’d like to hear.  You could even give them the opportunity to vote for the music you’ll play next.

Sure, it might detract from your own gaming experience, but you’re playing for them, not for yourself. Your other option is to choose ambient backing tracks that fit the mood, whether that’s a chilled-out score or something more fast-paced, depending on the game. 

By choosing music in-line with the game’s original soundtrack, you can offer something different without worrying about whether it’s a good match.

Ok, let’s say you now know precisely what your audience wants to hear – now it’s just a case of finding those tracks and broadcasting, right? Unfortunately, things aren’t quite that simple these days…

Navigating Copyright Issues

Twitch takes copyright infringement seriously, and streamers that get caught using music they don’t hold a license for can face an array of consequences. You can find the full breakdown of Twitch’s music rules here, but we’ll give you the basics.

Under Twitch’s guidelines, you can’t play:

  • Copyrighted music for which you don’t hold a license
  • Music from radio stations
  • Cover versions of copyrighted music
  • DJ sets that include songs you don’t hold the correct license for
  • Karaoke that uses copyrighted music

What happens if you flout these rules? Well, to start with, you’ll face the wrath of Twitch’s automated muting system.

If it picks up on copyrighted music, when your viewers try to rewatch your broadcast through Video On-Demand (VOD) they’ll find the sound is missing, and you’ll likely receive a warning. 

This won’t look good to your viewers, and will negatively impact the momentum of your publicity.

If your stream does manage to slip under Twitch’s radar, you might find yourself on the receiving end of a DMCA takedown notice from the copyright holder.

Remember, just because you’ve purchased a track, that isn’t the same as having a license to use it on your stream. The same goes for music streaming services. 

Twitch won’t hesitate to temporarily or permanently ban repeat offenders.

Finding Licensed or Royalty-free Music

The truth is that it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to obtain a license for popular music.

Sure, you can try, but the right license will cost far more than most people can afford – a license for a well-known song can easily run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you have the cash to pay for that sort of thing, well, good for you, but the rest of this article is going to work on the assumption that you’re not a multi-millionaire. 

Twitch are well aware that many streamers want to be able to play music to accompany their broadcasts, which is why they launched their own music library consisting of royalty-free tracks and music they’ve acquired specific licenses for. 

You will find a handful of songs that you’ve heard of, but for the most part it consists of lesser-known artists. Ultimately, it gives you more incentive to pick music based on your stream and audience as opposed to big names you like personally. 

The good news is that the Twitch library isn’t your only option for royalty-free music.

While Twitch have always had stringent copyright guidelines, it’s only been in recent years that more artists have been made aware of the potential for misuse of their music on the platform. 

This means that more services have been created to remedy the situation, giving streamers plenty of choice when it comes to royalty-free music.

There are a range of options available from free to paid subscriptions, but some come with caveats.  Sites such as BenSound and the NoCopyrightSounds Youtube channel are packed with great music that you can use at no cost, but you will need to include a link attribute to the artist.

Ninety9Lives is another fantastic service that offers dozens of up-and-coming artists across a range of genres in exchange for a music credit, and you’ll keep all of the ad revenue from your streams.  

For the biggest selections of music, it’s worth investing in a premium subscription service.

Pretzel is an extremely popular choice with streamers as it offers a lot of control over how you play your music, and their premium option at $4.99 per month means you don’t have to link to the music you’re playing.

You can also be safe in the knowledge that 70% of all profits go directly to the artist.

Epidemic Sound is another fantastic option – you’ll have access to over 30,000 tracks in an ever-expanding list of music that can be used on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitch, and you can even take advantage of a free 30-day trial.

In Summary

The key advice to take away from this article is:

  • Take the time to think about whether background music is appropriate for your broadcast, and if it is, which approach will work best.
  • Read Twitch’s Music Guidelines and make sure you know exactly what you can and can’t use.
  • Be receptive to audience feedback – ask your viewers what they think about your use of music and listen to them.

As long as you stick within the law and are prepared to adapt to what your audience wants, there’s no reason you can’t find the perfect background music for your stream that will enhance the entire experience for you and your viewers.

Who knows, one day you may even make enough money through Twitch to license something from the Billboard 100.

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