Whether you are a gaming YouTuber or want to start your own talk show on music, the appeal of streaming music live on YouTube is clear. But with automated third-party content seekers eliminating channels left and right, it’s hard to tell what you can and cannot do anymore. You don’t want to lose your channel, so it’s better to be careful, right?
So can you play music while streaming on YouTube? Yes, but you need to reach out to the original creator of the song. Also, they will need to whitelist your channel for playing the music. If you do not get permission beforehand, you risk your channel receiving a copyright strike.
In the rest of the article, we will be exploring some easy channels to get you to play music on your YouTube channels. We will also be going through some general information on copyright law and the public domain.
The Rules For Playing Music While Streaming On YouTube
Below is Google’s official statement on copyright issues with live streams:
“All live streams are scanned for matches to third-party content, including copyrighted content in the form of another live broadcast.
When third-party content is identified, a placeholder image may replace your live stream. You’ll be warned to stop streaming the third-party content. If you comply with this warning and address the issues, your stream can continue.” – YouTube Help Page.
When reading the statement above, you will notice that it gives you a clear warning. Google’s AI scans on all videos (live stream or otherwise) to find content that has been identified by their system as copyright sound.
Sometimes, this can get pretty nasty as third-party companies make unfounded copyright claims. One of my favorite YouTubers, VineSauce, had a claim on his video due to cricket noises.
Given the vast amount of creators they have on their platform, Google’s emphasis on having an AI-driven audio finder has its issues. Many mid- to small-sized content creators have complaints about the lack of support.
Because Google’s AI sometimes fails to differentiate, your transformative effort to cover a song can also be claimed. That being said, you do need to receive a mechanical license to make a cover.
YouTube offers music in its creative studio with copyright-free audio. So if you edit your video inside of their creator’s studio, you can find a series of songs that you can confirm avoids copyright issues.
What If I Stream Music On Twitch?
Twitch is YouTube’s competitor, so this is your next best bet for creating live content. However, many people have expressed their concerns about Twitch’s recent push to remove copyright content from the website. Below is a statement from their site:
“We ask that creators only share content for which they have the necessary rights. It is a violation of our policies to stream or upload content containing copyrighted music unless you have the appropriate rights or authority to share such music on Twitch.” – Twitch Community Guidelines.
YouTube and Twitch have become virtually identical. However, Twitch offers a solution by offering Soundtrack, which is their way of acting as a replacement for audio in saved clips.
How Do I Make My Video Exempt From Content ID Claims?
Simply put, you cannot do this yourself. Instead, it would be best if you reached out to the copyright holder so that they can do it. They will need to have “Content ID” enabled on their profile.
Once they log into their YouTube account, they will need to follow the following instructions:
- On the left side, find “Allowlist” on the menu
- In the top-right corner, select “Add Channels”
- Have the copyright holder put your URL there
- Click the “Add” button
If the copyright holders do not have an account, you won’t receive a content ID claim. However, this does not make you immune from receiving a cease and desist letter.
Where Can I Find Copyright-Free Music To Play On YouTube
YouTube Music, Spotify, and Google Play Music are all popular streaming platforms, but none of them are built to hold music specifically for use on YouTube. Playing music from any of these platforms is a quick way to get a channel warning. Below area few platforms you can use to find copyright-free music. You can also check out this video below for more details.
YouTube Audio Library
If you’ve used YouTube Studio before, you know what this is referring to. The left-hand side of the menu contains a variety of tracks that you can use. These tracks are built into YouTube’s editing software and are guaranteed not to come with copyright claims.
However, for detailed editors who use editing software before the upload, you cannot download the audio before using it on YouTube. This makes it less useful for creators who perform pre-upload edits.
Bensound is free with attribution, meaning you will need to give them credit before using. You can do so easily by placing the attribution in your description. If you don’t pay for their music, they will only allow you a small number of downloads, but it is still a pretty good deal.
Soundcloud is a powerful indie platform which is great for people who enjoy listening to EDM. That being said, it isn’t a platform exclusively made for YouTube streaming, so you will need to ask creators before using their music.
Reach out to small-time producers to see if they are willing to share their content. Many producers are pretty good about it, as they enjoy the exposure. Some may require you to pay a fee.
Epidemic Sound allows you to download as many tracks as you like for a small subscription. You can also get a free trial to use as a streamer. They claim that over 100,000 content creators use them to soundtrack their videos. They aren’t specific to any platforms, so you can choose to use it on Twitch, Facebook Gaming, or YouTube.
Next, we are going to get into copyright law and how it has changed since YouTube.
Important Information That You Need To Know On Music Copyright
In 1998, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act was released to prevent music pirates from duplicating digital works. In ’98, this was released to address limits on burning CDs and the early torrenting days. Eventually, it was used to dismantle websites like Pirate Bay.
The DMCA limits your ability to do two primary things:
- Share copyrighted material via web sites (yours or someone else’s)
- Try and get around copy protections
Because of the vagueness of the law, it has been heavily abused by companies. One popular example of this happening is when KTVU, a San Francisco-based news studio, attempted to hide their embarrassing announcement of false names through copyright claims on videos.
While the whole of this situation was a mess, people typically believe the DMCA was about people sharing music with people who would normally go out to buy CDs. In this case, it was used to hide embarrassment, resulting in some significant backlash.
YouTube is no stranger to copyright-related controversies. The popular channel TeamFourStar has been victim to this issue multiple times. In some more popular instances, Funimation was not the group that made the copyright claims. Creators have previously stated that YouTube has a strong preference for the claimant, regardless of their claims’ legitimacy.
To address this, many content creators call upon fair use.
What Is Fair Use On YouTube?
Whether you are a Twitch streamer, Facebook Gaming commentator, or YouTube parody creator, fair use is a powerful tool for transforming copyright material. This is the definition of fair use, according to the Oxford Dictionary:
“(in US copyright law) the doctrine that brief excerpts of copyright material may, under certain circumstances, be quoted verbatim for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research, without the need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder.” – Oxford
That means you cannot use copyrighted music to enhance your stream. You need a license to use it as background music. However, if you are a talk show host on your YouTube channel reviewing metal, that means you could feasibly play a few seconds of the track in your review.
If you are using the audio to teach various music techniques, you can do so in an educational format. However, that does not permit you to include an entire track in your SkillShare classroom.
“Transformative” is a keyword used in fair use. If your content does not add unique value to the original content, you won’t be able to use it. If you have never heard Starbomb, I recommend you listen to track one on their first album that literally dictates why they can use video game references in their music.
You need to be able to argue your point when using fair use flawlessly. If you cannot, you are best suited to avoid using any audio track under fair use guidelines. Check out Google’s official legal statement regarding fair use for more details.
Playing music as a YouTube talk show host, Twitch streamer, of Facebook gamer can be complicated. Nine times out of ten, many people do not know they are violating copyright. The result is a situation like Twitch, where lack of this knowledge resulted in thousands of videos being taken down.
All major streaming platforms have some Content ID trackers. The only clear way you can play some of these songs is through permission from the original creator that they will need to address on their Google profile.
As always, arming yourself with knowledge on the DMCA and Fair Use will be important. With this knowledge in your back pocket, you will be able to share music on your content channels confidently.