License Deal Of Twitch And Music Publishers
Multiple sources tell Billboard that Twitch and the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) are close to completing a music licensing agreement, possibly ending a year-long standoff between the livestreaming platform and the publishing group.
According to a source familiar with the issue who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the two parties have reached an agreement in principle, albeit nothing binding has been signed. According to another insider in the publishing sector, a deal might be revealed next week, although it hasn’t been inked yet.
Twitch has agreements with performing rights organizations such as ASCAP and BMI, but not with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, or any of their separate publishing businesses. According to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and its “safe harbor” provision for platforms that host user-uploaded content, Twitch is theoretically not liable for any subsequent copyright infringement.
Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, has operated under the DMCA for years without incident, but since the pandemic drew the attention of the music industry to Twitch for live streaming concerts, spurring massive growth for the platform, music trade organizations such as the NMPA and RIAA have accused Twitch of abusing the DMCA to avoid paying for music in the same way that they have pressured Amazon. As a result, over the last year, the two groups have bombarded Twitch with tens of thousands of removal requests, irritating its users and forcing Twitch to negotiate.
Tracy Chan, Twitch’s vp/head of music, responded by stating that Twitch does not allow copyright infringement, claiming that Twitch’s monetization scheme provides musicians with a more profitable business model than licensing fees. To assist streamers, Twitch introduced Soundtrack by Twitch in September, an in-platform service that allows users to legally include over 1 million rights-cleared songs from labels like Monstercat and Anjunabeats into their streams.
Platforms that license music often deal with the recording side first, before moving on to the more complicated publishing side, although it’s unclear where Twitch and record labels stand in their discussions. Executives have been grumbling behind the scenes about Twitch’s repeated claims that a deal will be announced soon.
Platforms that license music frequently require time to set up reporting tools that allow them to track song consumption and determine who should be paid. When the NMPA and YouTube reached an agreement in 2011 to settle the NMPA’s copyright infringement complaint against the video site, YouTube enlisted the aid of licensing and royalty service provider RightsFlow. Even after securing music license arrangements with big label groups last September, Facebook Gaming spent a year fine-tuning its content recognition technology before allowing only its top users the option to include famous music into their streams earlier this month.
As a result, lump-sum payments are frequently made and accepted. The publisher then has the responsibility of deciding how to distribute royalties to its artists and composers, which is sometimes done by market share. These settlements can also include go-forward licenses, which are distributed based on a lump-sum pool.
Meanwhile, the NMPA is still engaged in a legal dispute with gaming platform Roblox over music licensing. The National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) filed a $200 million copyright infringement complaint against Roblox in June, saying that the gaming platform hosts a “huge” collection of unauthorized tunes for users to broadcast in games. Roblox has denied any wrongdoing and promised to fight the allegations “vigorously.”