Everyone would love to use licensed music if it weren’t for the whole copyright thing. Over the years, online platforms have gotten increasingly harsh on creators who play licensed music in full, leverage snippets, have it play in the background because a car across the street was blasting it, or even poorly singing a few bars of a licensed song in jest.
Getting caught can subject your videos to getting partially muted, having any ad revenue that it would have made go to the music license holder, getting hit with a permanent copyright strike that will push your channel closer to deletion, or even lose your account outright. YouTube is far stricter than Twitch in this regard, but some of the platform’s largest streamers have been suspended for using licensed music in the past. It’s inevitable that Twitch will increase its efforts to shut down the illegal use of license music in order to protect itself from liability.
If you want maximum control and minimal liability, your best bet is to steer clear of licensed music. But where do you turn to when you need background music for your just chatting sessions or want music to fill the empty soundscapes of the battle royale games you play? Try these options!
(and avoid the last one)
YouTube’s Audio Library
YouTube offers a ton of instrumental music and audio stings. You can sort through its catalogue by genre, instrument, or even mood. New music is being added regularly, so there’s always reason to check back.
Even so, I highly recommend making a beeline for the works of Otis McDonald. He makes BANGERS! Yes, you probably hear his music all the time in the videos you watch, but it works so well and sounds so good that you’ll want to use it too.
Pretzel provides video content creators with a curated catalogue of music from smaller artists across a number of different genres. Most of these songs have lyrics, but there are instrumental tracks as well. You can use it for free, but each time the track changes, Pretzel will send a message to your chat with a link to the song being played. To disable it, you’ll need to pay the monthly subscription fee of $4.99 USD per month.
StreamBeats by Harris Heller
Created by streamer and video content creator Harris Heller, StreamBeats is a collection of lo-fi beats that he’s made free to use anywhere (except Facebook). This is what I’ve been using in my video content of late and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The downside of this collection is that it’s only one genre of music for now. He’s mentioned that dance and rock albums are coming, but this collection only has lo-fi for now.
AVOID: User Playlists Labeled as Stream-Safe or Free of Copyright
There are a whole host of playlists labeled as being safe for streaming. But do you actually know of they are? Before you commit to using a playlist you find online, make sure to do some research on the playlist creator to ensure that it’s not just a random person who can’t ensure that all of the music they’ve picked is actually safe. Unless you get music from a reputable source, it probably isn’t safe.
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