Live & Touring

Twitch nears deal with US publishers, but that won’t solve all its music problems

Twitch is near to signing a music licensing deal with the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) according to reports.

The Amazon-owned platform is already licensed with BMI, ASCAP and SESAC for “live live” music performances. But playing recorded music on Twitch – as many gamers, live DJ’s and other Twitch creators do – was not, according to Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and most other music publishers and record l.

That led to a standoff with Twitch contending that it is covered under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and its “safe harbor” provisions for platforms hosting user-uploaded content. Confusing and also often changing Twitch takedown rules have also led to conflicts with its own creators.

In an effort to satisfy creators, Twitch launched Soundtrack offering free access to more than 1 million licensed recordings from labels like Monstercat and Anjunabeats.

Just the beginning…

How far the deal, first reported by Billboard, goes will determine if Twitch is able to satisfy the needs of its varied creator community.

Most importantly, have record labels – both major and indie – signed on to also license their master recordings along with the songs? And will live DJs be allowed to spin? Are radio station-like broadcasts permitted?

Still looming will also be the need for music licensing deals in the dozens of other markets that Twitch reaches. Many foreign PROs and licensing groups including in the UK and France have taken a harsh view of music on Twitch and live streams in general and seem unlikely to automatically fall into line.

Bruce Houghton is Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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