One of the best ways to enhance your live streams is with background music. Background music sets the vibe of the stream and breaks the silence when you step away to make a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, not all music is allowed to be used in your stream. As a content creator, it is important to know your options and limitations when it comes to streaming with music so that you can avoid penalties and continue to monetize your content.

What are my limitations?

The limitations on streaming with music come from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a law that protects copyrighted material from being redistributed without license. The DMCA means it is illegal to use any music in your content that you don’t own the rights to or have license to use. Sadly, that is most music.

You may be thinking, “but I purchased this music on iTunes, so I do own it”. Not so fast. Owning a copy of music and owning the rights to it are very different things. When you purchase music through a marketplace like iTunes or a subscription service like Spotify, you are only purchasing a personal license to listen to the music. So, while you can share that music privately with some friends on a road trip, you cannot broadcast it publicly on the internet through Twitch or any other streaming service.

What are my options?

Luckily, it’s not all bad news. There are some excellent free and affordable options available that do give you license to use certain music in your live streams. Here are a few of my favorites:

Twitch Soundtrack
Cost: Free  **Twitch only**
“Soundtrack by Twitch (Beta) is a new tool made specifically for Twitch creators to feature licensed music within their live streams.”

Monstercat Gold
Cost: $5/mo
“Use our music claim-free in your Twitch and YouTube livestream or video content. Thousands of high-quality songs available to stream or download. New songs added weekly.

No Copyright Sounds
Cost: Free w/ attribution
“A YouTube-first label that allows indie creators to use and even monetize its music freely as long as they give due credit back to the content owners.”

Chillhop Music
Cost: Free w/ attribution
“Monetize your content on YouTube and Twitch with soulful music produced by real artists. It’s free to download and easy to use.”

If you stream on Twitch (and only Twitch) and you do not upload content to other video platforms such as YouTube, then Twitch Soundtrack may be the simplest solution for you. But if you are streaming or posting content cross-platform, then it is recommended to go with a solution like Monstercat, NCS, or Chillhop because their licenses cover more than just Twitch.

When it comes to Monstercat, $5/mo is a small price to pay to get license to use their music catalogue full of high quality EDM tracks from top artists in the genre. You can use their tracks in any content you create while you are a member of the Gold program.

If you don’t have the budget for Monstercat Gold, or you just want more options, I also recommend NCS and Chillhop Music. Both catalogues have great music and they are free to use if you add an attribution message below your content. Be sure to read each usage policy carefully to assure you are following them properly. Take care of the artists that take care of you.

I like to use all 3 of the cross-platform options (Monstercat, NCS, and Chillhop Music). Different streams and games call for different music. If you’re just chatting, you may prefer some chill, lo-fi beats from Chillhop Music. But if you’re shredding enemies in your favorite FPS, some high-tempo music from Monstercat or NCS is probably in order.

Add Music with Botisimo

Botisimo is a powerful set of cloud-based, cross-platform tools that helps streamers engage with their community using chat commands, live polls, giveaways, and, of course, music! Botisimo’s Music Player integration provides a simple way for streamers to add background music to their favorite streaming software, such as Lightstream, using a stream overlay URL.

Streaming with background music can be a game changer and thanks to Lightstream, it is possible no matter how you stream, even if you stream directly from console.