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Background Music for Livestreaming: How-to Guide

In the life of each streamer there are times when the viewers don’t show enough activity and he/she has nothing to say. At such moments an awkward silence appears and something should be done immediately or otherwise bored audience will simply scatter. One of the best ways to remove the oppressive silence is background music. A well-chosen playlist will definitely cheer up the audience. In addition, it can make your gaming look more comic or epic and show the streamer’s music taste.

Twitch Music

Can I include any song during my Twitch stream?

Not really. Almost all popular songs are protected by copyright and are only available for personal listening. Playing such music during stream is considered as its commercial use and is strictly suppressed by the administration of Twitch. The system recognizes this music automatically and turns off the sound of stream, even if the copyrighted track was on only for 10 seconds. Numerous copyright infringements can lead to strikes or even banning the channels. In order for this not to happen you should only use the music that is released under the Creative Commons license.

What is Creative Commons?

It’s a kind of license that allows you to freely copy, distribute and reproduce songs protected by copyright provided that the author of the work is mentioned. Part of the music with such licenses can even be modified to your liking, for example, to increase the bass in it, speed it up, make a loop and so on. In order to understand that you have the right to do with the track with the Creative Commons license, you need to read its description by clicking on the license icon.

How can I find music with Creative Commons license?

Free Music

You can look for tracks released under Creative Commons license manually on different websites and services like Soundcloud, Jamendo, Bandcamp, Free Music Archive, ccMixter, Magnatune, Simuze. There is also a special resource: music.twitch.tv which lists the music that will not lead to muting your stream.

If you decide to search for cool royalty free music yourself, you should be ready to wasting quite a lot of time. Most of the free music, unfortunately, is of pretty low quality.

For what kind of games is it better to use background music?

You can use background music in any game but not in all the games it will be appropriate. If you play RPG, visual novels or other games where everything revolves around the storyline and dialogues, you better not use background music. It will distract viewers from the game itself and may even break its atmosphere.

Do not use background music in games where there already is a great soundtrack that does not fall under copyright. Replacing it with something else, you run the risk of losing most of the game’s atmosphere.

Background music is ideal for various shooters, arcades and simulators where there is no good soundtrack, little dialogues and communication with other players. It is good for MOBA if you play alone and do not communicate with the team through TeamSpeak or Discord. But if you play with your friends and talk a lot with them during the matches, we recommend not using the music or putting in on a very low volume.

When should I use background music?

It also depends on what you are playing. For example, in shooters, you can play the music throughout the whole stream. In MOBA games it’s best to turn it on between matches if the chat is not active enough. We still advise not to abuse background music and pay attention to communication with the audience. Music should become a great addition to your streams but not the only entertainment for your viewers.

Can the background music scare off my audience?

It all depends on how you do it. Of course, if the music plays too loudly, not letting the audience hear what you say, it’s very unlikely that your viewers will enjoy it. It’s important to select the correct background music. It must match the atmosphere of the game. For example, quiet relaxing music is hardly suitable for playing shooters. Also, do not abuse background music too much. It shouldn’t distract viewers from the gameplay.

If you follow these simple tips, background music will definitely not scare anyone off and more than that, will help you reveal your taste to the audience and find more common topics for communication with subscribers. Discussing the music can be quite fun.

Can background music help me in interacting with my audience?

Yes. Many applications for background music offer interactive function letting the audience choose which song will play next. It may work in a variety of ways. In some applications viewers must give enough votes for the song they like. In others each viewer can order a favorite track himself buying it for a special token. In any case don’t be afraid to give control over music lisy to your viewers. This interaction helps with establishing a warmer relationship with your subscribers. If you want to try giving your viewers the ability to manage background music for live streaming, we recommend you to pay attention to such apps as StreamElements and Pretzel Rocks.

How do I add music to a stream?

The best way to add Twitch friendly music is using special bots. Try Nightbot or Moobot. In our articles it is described in detail how to install and set up required functions.

I really like the song but it’s not available under the Creative Commons license. What can I do?

If you want to use a song not available for free use in your Twitch stream, you can contact its copyright holders at Soundcloud and buy the rights for its commercial use. After that, you need to confirm these rights with Twitch administration giving them evidence you’ve paid for the track. Remember, you will have to pay for each song separately and correspondence with rights holders can take a long time.

My streams are not monetized. Can I use music for free with any license?

No. You are still violating copyright law by using the music you haven’t paid for.

I want to use music in my streams but I don’t have time to search for royalty free tracks. Is there any other solution?

Yes, of course. There are many services with music subscriptions. Their creators have already collected in one place a lot of non-copyrighted music for Twitch. Such services can be both free or require payment. When using a paid music subscription, you pay for using all the music available on the service at once. It’s pretty obvious that you will spend much less money this way compared to paying for each track separately. Free music subscriptions provide their entire music library for free. Below we will talk about pros and cons of some music subscription services.

Best services

NoCopyrightSounds

NoCopyrightSounds is a British electronic music label. It has its own website and channel on YouTube where all tracks are structured into playlists by genre. Most of the label’s music is trap, dubstep, indie, drum & bass.

You don’t need to pay for NoCopyrightSounds music. All you need to do in order to use their tracks is mentioning the author and the title of the song that is currently playing.

You can add NoCopyrightSounds already existing playlists to Spotify and Soundcloud or create your own playlist of your favorite tracks.

Twitch Music Library

Twitch Library songsTwitch royalty free music can be found not only on third-party websites. Twitch itself offers a fairly wide music library which is available on platforms such as Spotify and Soundcloud. It includes music from various indie labels, such as American Fool’s Gold and Dutch Spinnin Records.

It may seem that nothing can be more reliable than playing only the music that is provided by Twitch itself. We have to warn you that music from Twitch Music Library often changes its status. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly get a strike for playing the songs that were recently labeled as allowed for use. Carefully follow every update of the library!

Also, using Twitch Music Library, you must remember that music owners do not approve modifying their songs. You can get a strike for increasing the bass or the speed of the track.

Monstercat

Among paid musical subscriptions we should highlight Monstercat label. It specializes in electronic music genres like trap, dubstep, electrohouse, synthwave, futurebass. All the music of the label is divided into two categories – Monstercat: Uncaged with energetic dance tracks and Monstercat: Instinct with calm relaxing music. Music in Monstercat is constantly updated: a bunch of new tracks are released several times a week. The label actively interacts with fans, conducts fan-meetings and even releases its own merch.

When buying a subscription to Monstercat you should definitely learn all the rules of using their tracks and bear in mind that any modification of music from Monstercat is strictly prohibited.

If you are willing to pay for good music, Monstercat is your best option. For just $100 a year you will be able to use all the tracks of this label as background music for your streams. It is much more profitable than paying for each track separately. In addition, you can listen and appreciate the music of Monstercat on their YouTube channel absolutely for free before paying for it.

Pretzel Rocks

Pretzel Rocks is an excellent option of music subscription. It is easy to use, controlled by customizable hotkeys and has a fairly wide music library in various genres from EDM to rock music. All music in the app is divided into playlists by genre. Also there is an opportunity to create your own playlists. They are constantly adding new songs to library so you definitely won’t have to listen to the same thing over and over.

Pretzel Rocks actively interacts with its users: fixes bugs, explains new features and helps in removing strikes if you got them for using music from the app’s library by mistake.

The application also has a convenient chat bot which can be controlled both by you and your audience.

Pretzel Rocks is available in free and paid version. To use the free version you just need to specify in your Twitch stream which song from Pretzel Rocks is currently playing on your channel. A paid subscription to Pretzel Rocks exists rather to support songwriters. It does not offer any special advantages except for the higher quality of music and the opportunity to participate in the advertising campaigns of the application. But such an app is worth of your support.

Spottybot

Not all music applications are worth trying. Spottybot belongs to the ones you better not waste your time on. This is a long-not-updated chat bot that broadcasts copyright free music from Spotify and is able to switch songs according to your audience’s requests. Spottybot has a very small music library (about 500 songs), has not been updated for a long time and doesn’t have an active support service.

Check out our article on Spottybot if you want to find out about the plenty disadvantages of this program.

Pros and cons of using background music

PROS:
  • Fills the moments when you are silent
  • Makes the gameplay more dynamic
  • Creates plenty of ways to interact with audience

CONS:
  • Not suitable for all games
  • You can only listen to Creative Commons music
  • Basically only electronic music is available for free

Conclusion

Using background music for live streaming is a great idea. A well-composed playlist can make the walkthrough more athmospheric, provide a good interaction and bring you closer to the audience.

But remember to use background music wisely. It should not distract the viewer from the plot of the game where it is really important. In RPG and visual novels it’s better to play without music on the background. The same applies to matches in MOBA in case you’re playing with your friends and talk all the time. Also, don’t turn on the music too loudly. You must admit it is unlikely that the audience will be interested in stream where they can’t hear what the streamer himself says.

It’s also important to remember about copyright law. Including the first song you’ve found on the Internet in your stream is not the best idea because it can (and in most cases will) lead to muting the stream and getting strikes. The best way to avoid such trouble is using music subscriptions with lots of Creative Commons tracks collected in one place. Read our reviews and choose the service you like best or even combine them.


We hope these tips will help you on the way to success!

This post is part of the How To Guide:  it will help you to setup the stream and get you closer to live-streaming insights and tools.

You can find more of what we do here:

Twitch Overlays Guide

Twitch Giveaways: How-To Guide

Background Music for Livestreaming: How-to Guide

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