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Music on Stream: Why we recommend against using it.

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Music is something we humans just love. It resonates with our emotions, and we hold it very dear. So what is the harm in using music on stream?

Well, Nothing. You are right that we enjoy listening to our music, and the idea of including it on stream isn’t a new idea. However, using music on stream isn’t really good for your channel.

Wait, what? I need reasons…Why shouldn’t I use music on stream?

Well, If your audience present and active in discussion asks for it, you should ignore everything past this point. It is what they want, give it to em. You’ll want to keep it to copyright-free to avoid Vod muting & potential DMCA notices. But don’t offer it. Only start it up if they ask for it. You would be surprised how many people don’t ask for music. That is one of only two exceptions to this rule.

The other exception is if the stream is a music stream. For example, Twitch Sings, or you playing your own music.

As for the reasons why you shouldn’t…well, where do we begin…

Your audience…might want to listen to their own music while they watch your stream

Picture of a man walking outside holding a smartphone in a green case.

Out of the smartphone are earbuds which are presumably on his ears. His head is cut off, and the background is out of focus.

He could want to listen to his own music on stream.

People have different tastes in music. Some like Rap. Some like Rock. And then some even like country… *shudders* Why force them to listen to music on stream if it is a genre or artist they loathe? Nothing against you country lovers, of course, we aren’t judging you. We just want to understand how you can like that. 😉

At any rate, In 100% of the cases that we have asked streamers & viewers on our partnered communities, everybody has said that they switched off any streamer that had music going that they did not like. This isn’t something to be ignored.

DMCA Risk: Twitch is cracking down on people in violation of the rules

Using music on stream can mean DMCA notices, or even lawsuits.

Picture of a Judge's Gavel.

Twitch hasn’t been known to have been very good with their enforcement of people streaming outside the rules. However, due to a certain incident, they have begun to take their enforcement a bit more seriously. This has led to several streamers getting banned for things that they have been doing the whole time they have been streaming, sometimes for as long as 2 years.

The rules have always been in place, violators get punished, but there are a lot of streamers out there. It is impossible to catch every single violator. It is the fact that they are now making a public effort.

We recommend not streaming any music you like using Spotify or some other media source to music you don’t own broadcasting rights to or public domain music.

Say I do, How will I combat “dead air” then?

Dead air is something that happens when there is nothing going on, or an otherwise, boring moment. The thing is; you don’t need to hide them. In fact, from our observations over 2 years, people we’ve watched who had music, talked less than those who did not have music.

In fact, on r/Twitch, every so often we see a post from a viewer’s perspective asking streamers not to stream music. Those threads tend to get a lot of upvotes support and buzz within the post.

We subconsciously combat dead air every day, because it is boring to us. And if your audience is listening to their own music, and you are talking more, your viewers are getting the best of both worlds. You don’t need the music as your weapon against dead air.

Also, if you have a webcam, use body language. Convey your emotions on your sleeve. It all adds entertainment value, and body language is especially important to viewers. (Unless you are whining. Don’t Whine. That just annoys most people.)

What about Alerts? Is music allowed there?

Having some music tied to an alert is totally okay! In fact, we encourage it.

The reasons for this are varied: When the music alert goes off, it is in focus, with complete clarity from any other sound. This brings a strong focus onto the alert. Music is a powerful attention grabber as an alert; Except those who are jamming to their favorite tunes, of course.

And Sound Effects? I like to use a soundboard on stream.

SFX is good too! If you have a soundboard, Use it! Don’t have a soundboard? Use your phone! If you plug a 3.5mm cable into the blue line-in port on your pc, you can pass sounds from the phone to the pc.

There is also the GoXLR, which also functions as a Mixer with motorized faders & effect processes to change the sound or do sound effects.

I’m not convinced. I will continue to use music on stream.

At the end of the day, it is your stream. And since it is your stream, it runs by your rules. For those insistent on using music on stream, at least use pretzel rocks. It is the best way to avoid a mute to your VOD clip, which can ruin amazing plays for potential future highlight reels.

However, we do recommend at least trying to stream without music in the background, to see how your audience reacts. At the very least, ASK your audience what they think about streaming without music.

One Final Option: Music that only you hear

If you personally can’t go on without music in the background noise, then there is a way to do this. Utilizing Audio monitoring & Advanced Audio Properties in OBS, you can send your music source (Including Spotify since it is now for personal use only, and not breaking their TOS when used in this way.) to your headphones.

If set up properly, the music can be heard by you. The stream cannot hear this source, because your headphones are not in OBS as an output source. Instead, it is as the monitoring device in the audio settings under advanced.

Music on stream. Advanced Audio options in OBS.
Our interface is selected because our headphones are plugged into the monitoring jack of that, not the pc.

The delay added by the monitoring method doesn’t matter for music that isn’t tied to game elements, so there are no drawbacks to doing it this way.

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