If you have been streaming on Twitch, chances are you received a very lengthy email explaining the “latest” to their policies regarding the DMCA. I’m going to do my best to provide a clear and concise unpacking of this lengthy email and explain what that could mean for DJs streaming pre-recorded music. At the end of this article you will find information on two viable alternative streaming platforms that I have been testing over the last several months.

So it is important to know that The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) is a set of US laws that allows you to create and share content on digital service providers like Twitch. Facebook, Twitch, Youtube and nearly every major social platform abides by these rules and that is why they have strict copyright take down policies in place. If you don’t comply as a company then the record labels that own the music can take way more than their share of royalties from a company such as Twitch.

Now Twitch does have deals in place with many smaller record labels via Soundtrack but not the big three, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music. Chances are the majority of the music you play as a DJ is from one of the big three and that is where the problem lies. Long story short, Twitch explicitly tells streamers to not us pre-recorded music in their streams that they don’t have permission to use.

This means Twitch will hand out warnings and eventually ban streamers that continue to break the law of the virtual land. In the memo from Twitch, they preach repeatedly to remove any saved videos that have may have pre-recorded music. They apologize for not having a more efficient way to handle video playback, however they don’t present a new solution. They also don’t present any sort of middle ground for DJs, only claiming the conversations with the major record labels have been in the works.

What does this mean?! The record labels want their fair share of the profits and Twitch has not found a middle ground that makes everyone happy so for now, they are stalling. We know that Twitch will remove saved videos with music from the big three record labels. We also know Twitch has not said they will take down live streams that are using pre-recorded music as Facebook does, however they have explicitly said avoid using pre-recorded music. This is still a bit of a grey area when it comes to whether DJs can continue to call Twitch a safe haven.

There are some upcoming events that may give us more insight into what is going to be the experience for streamers moving forward. Starting November 18, the Twitch Creator Cramp will host the first of four additional live sessions. “Topics will include a DMCA Overview, Musicians on Twitch and DMCA, and Copyright & Managing Your Twitch Content”

What should DJs do now?! There is still a bit of uncertainty when it comes to whether or not Twitch will take down your streams mid set. Until we get reports of that happening, you should continue to build your online following. It might take a bit of teeth pulling, but if you provide a quality experience for your viewers, they will follow you to the end of earth and back.

If uncertainty is not your thing, you can move your viewers over to Mixcloud or PlayDJ.TV; the only two live streaming services that allow you to legally stream pre-recorded music. The aforementioned platforms have made deals with the appropriate record labels that ensure all DJ streams are safe from any DMCA violation. Keep in mind that Twitch is a unique platform that was designed from gamers. If you only wanted to know about the Twitch DMCA announcement, you can stop reading. If you would like to learn more about alternative platforms to stream, please carry on.

Photo credit: Virtual DJ

PlayDJ.TV is a new platform that was built from the ground up by DJs for DJs and packed with features and functionality DJs are looking. PlayDJ.TV is a streaming platform that allows you to save and record your sets for playback without any muting. It also give you the option to multi-cast directly from PlayDJ.TV to 4+ different streaming platforms. Their multi-cast system allows you to mute the audio of an outgoing stream. For example, we all know Facebook will take down your streams when playing pre-recorded music; PlayDJ.TV gives you the option to push your stream visuals to Facebook. This is a great tool to get the attention of your followers on other social media platforms and gives you a chance to direct them to PlayDJ.TV or wherever your uninterrupted stream may be.

100% of the tips go directly to the DJ which makes paying for your monthly subscription a breeze once you have your following going. I have been streaming with PlayDJ.TV for the last 3 months and have had near flawless performance. For $19.99 you get a lot of bang for your buck. Look out for a separate article going into more detail about PlayDJ.TV as there are still several features not mentioned here. In the meantime, I recommend snagging the special $1 membership trial. Simply enter the promo code “TRIAL1”

Photo Credit: Mixcloud Live

Mixcloud (Live Beta) is the only other fully licensed live streaming alternative for DJs. Mixcloud struck deals with the major record labels many moons ago which allowed them to be the only place you could safely upload DJ mixes. They have to play by the rules of the record labels which means users can’t rewind, scroll through, or download mixes as you would on Soundcloud. When the pandemic hit, Mixcloud added “Live” to give DJs an opportunity to perform a live mixshow for their followers. This is still currently in Beta mode which means users should expect to experience some technical difficulties.

The ability to save live sets in the cloud is my favorite feature because it saves a step when it comes to having to record and upload your mixes. Mixcloud also provides useful analytical data that gives you insight on your audience. If you are planning a large event and want to make it “pay-per-view”, Mixcloud has integrated a virtual ticket that users can purchase to give them access to your stream; you set the price. Mixcloud is offering a 30-day free trail of the Live Beta experience and after that it’s $15/month to stream from their platform.

In a nutshell the notice from Twitch currently does not favor DJs streaming, but that doesn’t mean you should stop streaming on Twitch. What makes Twitch great is the social interaction that is integrated within the platform; however, keep in mind that Twitch is taking their fair share of revenue from all subscriptions and they take money off the top from bits when users purchase them. Both Mixcloud and PlayDJ.TV give the streamer 100% of the tips/subscriptions because the streamer pays the upfront cost. Proper preparation will always set you up for success. Do not abandon your Twitch audience, instead be transparent with them and let them know that there are alternative options if Twitch is no longer a viable streaming platform for DJs. Nether is perfect and each platform will have a different feel so try out PlayDJ.TV and Mixcloud for yourself, it will literally cost you a $1 to make sure you are in the loop with the licensed streaming platforms.

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