Twitch CEO Says Licensing Deals With the Majors Are ‘Pretty Close’ to Finalized: ‘In the End, We Are Going to Have to Share Money With the Labels’

twitch licensing deals
  • Save

twitch licensing deals
  • Save
Twitch is ‘pretty close’ to finalizing licensing deals with the majors, per CEO Dan Clancy. Photo Credit: Caspar Camille Rubin

Following more than a few takedown-related headaches – complete with many muted videos and justifiably irked streamers – Twitch is poised to ink licensing deals with the major labels, according to the Amazon subsidiary’s CEO.

Twitch head Dan Clancy shed light on the possible agreements during a recent sit down with streamer TweakMusicTips. In keeping with that name, TweakMusicTips features interviews with “top level music professionals,” per the channel’s description. And given this industry focus, the discussion with Clancy eventually covered the state of protected music’s use on the platform.

For a bit of quick background, amid the overall absence of licensing pacts, 2020 brought a “no recorded music” policy at Twitch, and that year as well as 2021 delivered a DMCA-notice-fueled crackdown on music appearing in videos.

While the platform has wrapped some industry pacts – a 2021 NMPA deal of sorts, an early 2022 agreement with Merlin on the indie side, select artist-channel tie-ups with the majors, and a Songtradr union that kicked off last year – its music-use terms underscore that streamers still cannot play tracks freely.

“Put simply, you should only include music in your Twitch channel if you’re sure you have the necessary rights or authority to do so,” the relevant text reads in part.

Running with these points and the growing prevalence of music content on Twitch, which is set to stream Stagecoach 2024, TweakMusicTips in the initially noted interview asked Clancy about DJs’ use of protected music in streams as well as the music-use “issues with the VODs [videos on demand].”

“The record labels have kind of been quiet about what’s happening in DJs on Twitch,” responded Clancy. “And the reason they’ve been quiet is because we’ve been talking to them about finding a stable solution for DJs on Twitch.

“We’ve been negotiating, we can kind of work something out, so that it could be blessed, what is happening on Twitch. … While I love what’s happening, the legal structure is if the label said, ‘No, you can’t do that,’ then they absolutely have the right to do that. And they can issue the DMCA takedown request, and if you get three of them, then now you’re not streaming on Twitch.

“We have a pretty good thing going right now, but it’s not a long-term sustainable thing unless the labels are okay with it. And the reason the labels have kind of been okay with it, is because we’ve been trying to work out a deal to allow it to maintain, where then they get some money from it.

“I’m not gonna share any of the details, but we’re pretty close to finalizing that with the labels,” continued Clancy, proceeding to suggest that the deal could usher in an official DJ category on Twitch.

“In the end, we are going to have to share money with the labels; it doesn’t come for free. I’ve already told a number of DJs this, and they realize, of course, they would rather not have to share some money. But we’re gonna kind of split whatever the cost is; we’re going to pay a portion of it, and the streamer will need to contribute a portion in terms of the revenue,” proceeded Clancy, who didn’t mention licensing or music generally in a lengthy “plans for 2024” open letter last month.

After that, the conversation shifted from DJs to different streamers, including those who focus mainly on gaming. Though certain titles’ soundtracks cannot be played on Twitch due to licensing restrictions, Clancy indicated that Twitch is “paying money” to labels for the current takedown system.

“Gamers playing music…it’s not allowed. Luckily, the labels have – because we in general have a deal, they’re not going after people for this,” explained the Twitch CEO of a little over one year. “But we do pay money so that the labels are not going after [streamers]. And we have an agreement where as opposed to going through a DMCA, if they feel someone is abusing things, they come and tell us and then we tell the streamer to stop playing the music.”

Moving forward, it’ll be worth keeping an eye out for this possible deal and its scope, referring particularly to whether it covers only livestreams themselves or on-demand recordings thereof. Moreover, the potential resolution is also interesting given the ongoing copyright showdown between Twitter/X and the NMPA.