Twitch and UMG (Universal Music Group) recently signed an agreement to enable more services for fans and opportunities on the platform. It is, in theory, a potentially good sign that Twitch and a major label are working more closely to reach a symbiotic relationship in the industry.
But is it really actually news that will affect most streamers?
What Is In The Twitch and UMG Agreement
Well for starters, it's not solely about Twitch. Universal Music Group also included Amazon Music in the expanded agreement. Not surprisingly, the public release did not include a ton of specific details about the partnership, but it did say that Universal Music Group and Amazon Music will provide fans with things like enhanced audio, spatial audio, livestream performances, and the ability to buy artist merchandise directly from the Amazon Music app. Provided they're UMG artists, of course.
When it comes to Twitch, the expanded agreement apparently outlines "new and innovative opportunities" for UMG artists to engage with fans via the platform. So yeah — not a lot to go off of.
Twitch will apparently help foster artist and label "channels" on Twitch, while UMG will cultivate opportunities and performances from its artists to appear on the platform.
The DMCA Factor
There is one part of the agreement that potentially impacts all streamers. In an email to users, Twitch said that as part of the expanded agreement, UMG will use Twitch's music reporting process to help curb DMCA violation notices and streamer takedowns.
Twitch initially launched into an agreement with Warner Music Group and the National Music Publishers Association to use the new process in September 2021. With UMG joining, the majority of major label acts will now fall under the new system, which is designed to treat violations with more context and reduce the risk of streamers losing their channels for minor infractions.
However, it doesn't mean that streamers can freely use music on their streams. For something like that to happen, Twitch would have to enter into a licensing agreement similar to YouTube. While this feels like an inevitability, there's no immediate timetable for this kind of agreement and right now streamers and artists alike are stuck with a very imperfect system.
So Who Does This Agreement Help?
Essentially, the agreement between Twitch and UMG represents two large companies agreeing to play nice. But it doesn't necessarily mean much for the average streamer.
The agreement seems to focus largely on how UMG might leverage Amazon Music and Twitch for its artists, and likewise how Twitch might gain more eyes by bringing big artists to the platform for performances.
But the thing with Twitch is that the culture isn't really about superstars stepping in for the occasional stream. While Twitch certainly has plenty of big events broadcasted on the platform — including NFL games — the lifeblood of the platform is the interaction between streamers and viewers.
UMG superstars popping in for a livestream performance doesn't really fit in that long-term, community-based approach that makes Twitch streaming such a unique opportunity for artists. Compare this to streamers like Mark Hoppus, Herman Li, T-Pain, and Matt Heafy, who have all used Twitch the right way — by consistently going live, interacting with viewers, and providing unique insight and experience into their creative processes.
While it's good to see Twitch seemingly invest more in the music side of its platform and UMG seemingly embrace the opportunities on Twitch, take these types of announcements with a grain of salt. We'll wait to see what types of events shake out as a result of this agreement and if streamers outside UMG's sphere might be able to leverage them.