Twitch.tv, the streaming service for gamers, adds music to its repertoire

Twitch.tv, the Amazon-owned gameplay streaming service that is all the rage among gamers these days, had a few music-related announcements to make yesterday.

First up, they have licensed over 500 tracks that streamers can use without worrying about running afoul of copyright issues. You can find a list of the tracks at music.twitch.tv. Oddly enough, unless I'm overlooking something you can't actually get the music there. You'll have to track it down yourself. They do offer some playlists that link to Spotify and Soundcloud with some of the songs to get you started but I expected the list of tracks to be links to some kind of source for the song referenced.

Twitch says it intends to continue to add to the list of tracks. It also warns users that these tracks are licensed for use on Twitch only. If you export your content and post it on YouTube or somewhere similar, you might get flagged for copyright violation.

For those of you who make, or want to listen to, music, Twitch has also added a Music category. This is a place for musicians to perform original music in a live stream. Considering that Twitch originally sprang from Justin.tv, a general purpose streaming site that is no longer in operation, this might at first seem like something of a step backwards for Twitch.

But in a FAQ about the new music offerings Twitch says:

Our commitment to gaming remains unchanged. Music on Twitch does not come at the expense of all the awesome gaming channels and events we support. We are pursuing this expansion because we think bringing artists, producers, and labels together with gamers will make both even better. Demonstrating that gamers are valuable to music artists and labels is important for the future growth of Twitch and the larger gaming industry.

In a press release Twitch Chief Strategy Officer Colin Carrier, elaborated:

“With our new Music category, artists are able to create and perform music on Twitch, bridging these closely linked entertainment mediums. Because the response to our previous music experiments resonated with our community, it’s clear that artists and labels now have a new outlet to successfully reach their fans."

Twitch references a live stream by LA-based DJ Steve Aoki that had 400,000 total views as one piece of evidence that music is going to resonate with Twitch's user base.

If you want to stream music it's important to keep in mind that this is limited to your original music only. You can't cover other artists' songs (unless you have permission from the artist). You can't stream your karaoke party or show off your awesome DJ skills on Twitch.

Of course you read about the limitations and then hit http://www.twitch.tv/directory/game/Music and what do you find? Someone is streaming Anime OSTs and another stream is someone DJing (at least that's what I found when I hit that link). So what gives?

Back to the FAQ where we learn:

The broadcasting of radio-style music-listening shows is an experimental program and is currently reserved on a very limited basis for approved music labels. If you have the necessary rights and meet the same criteria listed at music.twitch.tv for contributing music to the Twitch Music Library, you can apply for special authorization from Twitch.

So maybe that's how these people are getting away with streams that are apparently in direct violation of the terms that Twitch has laid out. My advice is to stick to the rules and if in doubt, contact Twitch to see if it's OK to stream whatever content you have in mind.

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