Twitch Licensing Deal Allows DJs To Legally Play Music From Major Labels

Twitch has reached licensing agreements with major record labels like Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music, and “hundreds” more rightsholders, allowing DJs to play copyrighted music in their livestreams without takedowns.

Announcing the watershed deal in a blog post last week, Twitch CEO Dan Clancy wrote that the “first-of-its-kind” partnership will make the Amazon-owned company “the first major service to provide a safe, long-term home for DJs to livestream,” via its new “Twitch DJ Program.”

Previously, DJs who played pre-recorded music from other artists in their livestreamed sets on Twitch were held liable for clearing applicable copyright permissions. Those who failed to do so faced muted audio, takedowns, strikes against their accounts and bans from the platform, as the company enforced DMCA penalties.

Now, DJs who opt-in to the new program launching this summer will have access to a catalog of millions of tracks and new releases, while Twitch handles the copyright and royalty payout processes. 

“To cover the cost” of the music used in DJ livestreams on the platform, Twitch will set aside a portion of revenue generated by its DJ channels to be distributed to music authors as royalty payments. This means streamers who monetize their channels will have to forfeit an unspecified percentage of their channel earnings to music rightsholders and labels.

These licensing costs will vary based on “how a channel monetizes.” However, for most streamers, Clancy wrote, Twitch will split costs 50/50 with the streamer. The company will cover all the licensing costs for non-monetizing streamers, who will not be financially impacted.

Initially, Twitch will absorb a greater percentage of the licensing costs as part of a gradually decreasing one-year subsidy “to help cover the difference in revenue paid out to music companies and their musicians.”

The Twitch DJ Program is only applicable to those who livestream as DJs and does not apply to other uses of music. “DJs will need to opt-in to a new agreement that will apply to all streaming on their channel,” Clancy wrote. “For those who only stream DJ content part-time, we recommend creating a second standalone channel dedicated to DJ live-streaming.”

Since an initial surge during the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, the number of DJs streaming on Twitch has more than quadrupled, according to Clancy, who added that “over 15,000 of them have been able to build and monetize communities of music fans.”

Learn more about the “Twitch DJ Program” here.


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Written by
Peter Volpe

Journalism student at The Ohio State University with a passion for culture and fat basslines.

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