Twitch Dubs Over Metallica’s BlizzCon Performance to Avoid Paying Royalties

Metallica BlizzCon
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Metallica BlizzCon
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Photo Credit: Raph_PH / CC by 2.0

Metallica performed at the closing of a huge gaming convention called BlizzCon. Fans listening on Twitch heard a different experience.

Metallica has performed at BlizzCon once before, in 2014. During the keynote, Metallica performed “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” much to the delight of fans. But those listening to the virtual stream on Twitch didn’t get the same experience. Some Twitch streamers who were live-streaming the event muted Metallica’s appearance entirely to avoid DMCA trouble.

But the official Twitch Gaming feed also carried the Metallica stream, and it did not mute it.

Within seconds of the song beginning, the music was replaced with what can best be described as Zelda music. It’s not even on the spectrum of heavy metal, much less Metallica’s speed metal style. I lack the words to describe it, so it’s best if you listen to it for yourself – because it’s absurd.

Apparently, Blizzard’s music performance rights for its channels did not extend to the Twitch in-house gaming channel. That means the Metallica BlizzCon stream appeared fine on official Blizzard-affiliated channels. But anyone watching the general Twitch stream was treated to this candy-coated nonsense. Cutting the audio and just watching the performance in silence would have been a better solution than mangling the audio.

It’s worth noting that the Streisand effect is in full force for this Metallica BlizzCon video, too.

It has quickly garnered over 2 million views in the time since the BlizzCon opening keynote went live. Twitch obviously wanted to keep itself safe from Metallica, who are notoriously litigious regarding copyright violations and royalties. The platform has notoriously avoided striking licensing deals with major music labels.

Instead, it has launched its own library of royalty-free music that Twitch streamers can use in their streams. You’d probably never expect to watch Lars Ulrich and the rest of Metallica jam out to what sounds like Nintendo music, but here we are. Thanks, Twitch.

Only Twitch viewers were treated to this decidedly Fisher-Price performance from Metallica. But now, it’s become one of the most sought-after performances to view on social media. People want to see the heavy-metal performance juxtaposed against such a terrible choice in replacement music – on purpose.

So what does Metallica think of the altered performance? No one from the band has addressed the controversy publicly since it aired. Digital Music News will keep you updated if Metallica decides to drop a heavy-metal riff of the music Twitch viewers heard.