Unlicensed Music for Twitch, Amazon Slammed RIAA, NMPA

UPDATED: Twitch, a fast-growing livestreaming platform, and its owner Amazon received a large letter Thursday, signed by several major music organizations in the US, including the RIAA, Recording Academy, National Music Publishers Association, Music Managers Forum, The American Association of Independent. Music, SAG-AFTRA and more than a dozen others over the lack of licensing deals with several major music rights holders. The letter is addressed to Amazon founder / CEO Jeff Bezos, on copy to Twitch CEO Emmett Shearer (a complete list of signatories appears).

Letter received by VarietyAccused of failing to secure proper sync and mechanical licenses for their recently launched soundtrack tool, as well as “allowing and enabling their streamers to use our respective members’ music without authorization , In violation of Twitch’s music guidelines, “among other claims. .

“Twitch has done nothing in response to the thousands of notices of music violations it has received nor currently acknowledges that it received them, as it has in the past,” the letter continues .

While Twitch announced a new tool earlier this month called Soundtrack, which provides streamers with the use of licensed music for millions of songs from a few independent labels, all three big companies in the service as well as several publishers And deals with, and lacks deals with other rights holders. Other rights on the song have licensed it.

The COVID-19 crisis has led to streaming on Twitch, which delivered nearly 5 billion hours of livestreamed content in the second quarter of the year in the second quarter of 2020, according to a report by Streamlabs and Stream Hatchet. As the lockdown has paralyzed the concert industry, many artists have turned to Twitch as a platform for twitch concerts, DJ sets, and other broadcasts, including copyrighted music. According to EMarketer’s forecast, the service was acquired by Amazon in 2014 for $ 970 million, expected to top 40 million users in the US by 2021.

“We represent artists, songwriters, musicians, singers, managers, producers, audio engineers, major and independent labels and publishers and many other professionals in all genres of music in the United States,” the letter begins. “We read about our soundtrack tool with Ruchi Twitch’s recent announcement. According to Twitch, the device allows Twitch users a curated library of licensed music in their live streams.[1] We appreciate that Twitch has acknowledged that offering licensed music for use by its streamers is good business, and we welcome that Twitch has provided rights holders to provide licensed music for use by their streamers Have started making some agreements with.

“However,” the letter continues, “we are obsessed with Twitch’s clear stance that neither sync nor mechanical licenses are required for its soundtrack tool. We are also deeply disappointed that Twitch is instructed by its music members. Infringing allows and allows its streamer to use the music of our respective members without authorization.[2] We are further concerned that Twitch continues to provide unlicensed and widely available music on its platform, despite company announcements that, as recently as June 2020, it will remove unlicensed music.[3] Twitch has done nothing in response to thousands of notices of music violations, nor does it currently acknowledge that it received them, as it has in the past. ”

In response, a representative for Twitch states Variety: “We are proud of the essential service that Twitch has become for so many artists and songwriters to connect with their fans, especially when real-world locations are closed and tour around the world. Thousands of music creators rely on Twitch to express themselves creatively, connect with their fans, and generate income during the global epidemic – and the number grows each day. We have partnered with dozens of labels, music distributors and promoters to help artists and songwriters get these opportunities during this challenging time. We continue to support the music economy by paying royalties for licensing fees to rights organizations and labels and publishers such as ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and GMR for the use of music in Twitch’s own productions and projects. We are contributing to the health of the music community, and we are proud of that.

“We are also proud of the work we are doing around the music recorded on Twitch through the soundtrack. Soundtrack is a fully licensed service. Twitch has tied up with rights holders for recordings and compositions included in the service. The soundtrack is not only a fully-licensed way for streamers to play great music in their live streams, but is also an important discovery tool for independent artists and labels.

“Finally,” concludes the statement, “Let’s be absolutely clear, Chicot responds to every valid DMCA notification obtained by removing allegedly infringing material in compliance with DMCA requirements.”

Twitch’s soundtrack partners include SoundCloud, CD Baby, EMPRERE, Create Music Group, Unitedmasters, Destrokid, Westwood Recordings, Dim Mac, Nuclear Blast, Chillhop Music, and Artist MXMoon. This has apparently not been a done deal with the indie label collective Merlin.

“Ahead,” the letter continues, we are concerned with the answers to questions asked about the license during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on July 29, 2020. We note that you failed to confirm whether Twitch acquired any license to make copies of the music. Compositions or digital performances of any sound recording on your stage. You also failed to explain what action Twitch is taking to prevent unauthorized copies and demonstrations.

“Twitch’s neglect of the fundamental rights of musicians, songwriters, sound recording artists, and many others who are exploited on Twitch without compensation, in contrast to Twitch’s rivals and support for such interests extended by Amazon’s own Amazon Music services Is standing in ”

The letter then references another letter sent to Amazon and Twitch by the Artist Rights Alliance in August, citing Bezos’ testimony during a July 29 House Entry Subcommittee hearing. The lead exec, the world’s wealthiest man, was asked by Rep. Kelly Armstrong (RN.D.) whether Twitch allowed users to stream unlicensed music. Bezos claimed that he did not know the answer and would investigate.

“We were surprised by your inability or unwillingness to answer even the most basic question about Twitch’s practices in this regard,” the ARA letter reads.

Thursday’s letter concludes: “As Twitch uses music to develop its audience and shape its brand, the company owes its creators more than the firm blindness and obscure crimes you delivered during your congressional testimony is. For working songwriters and artists, on a growing platform like Twitch, fair royalties can literally be a matter of life and death – the difference between living and being homeless and not having access to health care or being unconfirmed . For others it is the difference between being able to work as an artist or giving up a lifetime of dreams. ”

We hope that you will appreciate the seriousness of the situation and make proactive efforts to ensure that unlicensed music is not available on twitch.

With devotion,

American Association of Independent Music
America Music Association
Artist Rights Alliance
Church Music Publishers Association
Christian Music Trade Association
Global music rights
Gospel Music Association
International Bluegrass Music Association
Living Legends Foundation
Music Managers Forum – U.S.
Nashville Lyricists Association International
National Music Publishers Association
Recording academy
Recording Industry Association of America
Rhythm & Blues Foundation
Songwriter from north america

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