Can I play background music while streaming?

Any background music you play while streaming on online platforms such as Twitch or Youtube is subject to copyright law. Often, online platforms implement audio recognition systems to automate the detection of copyright infringement.

Using Music From Others

If you want to use a song for any reason, even if you’re planning to use just a few notes to create a new song, we recommend that you obtain the appropriate rights from the owners or licensors of the song. That could mean contacting the music publisher, the music label, or the performer. One way to do that is through an organization such as

A public performance occurs when a song, recorded or live, is being broadcast via any media (e.g., internet, mobile, radio, television, etc.) or played in a live performance (e.g., concerts) to the public. If you want to broadcast or publicly perform music (including music that is playing in a video game), you would need to obtain public performance rights for each applicable territory. In the United States, these rights are controlled by ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) or SESAC, also known as performance rights organizations or PROs. Radio stations and other businesses (e.g., restaurants, venues) may have blanket licenses with each PRO, which requires them to pay a flat rate once a year for the rights to all music in a PRO’s catalog, which fee will vary based on the size of the audience, value of the advertising revenues, and amount and nature of music usage. However, individual licenses may be negotiated.

Technically, anyone performing music publicly must obtain a license for such rights, even marching bands, class instructors, street musicians, etc. Failing to obtain a license for the permission to publicly perform music could subject you to a claim for copyright infringement.

If you want to use a song in connection with, or “sync” the music with, a visual media output (e.g., commercials, TV, film, video games, etc.), a Synchronization license is required in addition to the public performance license. Finally, if you are using a pre-recorded version of a song, you will need to obtain a Master Use license from the copyright owner (unless you are making your own recording of the song). You may be able to obtain both of these licenses through organizations like

Any music you play in your streams, in the background or through a video game, will be subject to Twitch’s audio recognition system and your VODs will be muted.

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