Whether you're live broadcasting an Ocarina of Time speed run or crowdsourcing your way through Pokemon, Twitch has long been the home for the world's hordes of gamers. Yesterday, it announced its plans to capture the attention of another bedroom-dwelling community: musicians. Nestled among their numerous channels, Music has joined the likes of DOTA, Minecraft, and Halo with its own dedicated page. The San Francisco-based Amazon subsidiary is also partnering with a handful of dance music labels and companies to bolster its foray into the DJ audience.
Dim Mak, Mad Decent, Spinnin' Records, OWSLA, Monstercat, and Fool's Gold have all signed on to Twitch Music Library in order to bring an initial 500 songs from their catalogs to the website at no cost to users. Gamers have long battled against built-in audio recognition systems which automatically remove music from their streams due to licensing and copyright violations. Labels like Monstercat have also unveiled wider licensing initatives to bring their entire catalog of songs to Twitch for a monthly fee. Twitch Music Library brings the age of silent button-mashing to a sudden, welcome end.
Why is this a good thing? Now, instead of performing your newest original on YouTube, you can perform it live on Twitch. Instead of letting your fans watch you produce tracks on ustream, you can now broadcast live on Twitch. Instead watching a major festival through a clunky half-functional website, you can now enjoy the reliability of a provider that knows what it's doing. And so on.
Given the deep affinity for gaming in the music community—particularly within dance music—the move is a natural evolution of Twitch's platform. Deadmau5, Porter Robinson, and Steve Aoki all frequently launch channels on Twitch to play games in front of their fans (especially Deadmau5). In July, 2014, Aoki laid the foundation for this by broadcasting a DJ set live from Ibiza, becoming the first dance music act to do so using the service.
Whether the expansion into the world of music will succeed is still somewhat of an unknown. Twitch is, after all, one more service people now have to sign up for. As the world learned last year during #gamergate, musicians who are already bothered by the unbridled opinions of YouTube commenters will find no sympathy from the ruthless (and often hilarious) gaming community. Whatever the hurdles, the value in the service is undeniably there; time will tell if it pays off.
Ziad Ramley is on Twitter: @ZiadRamley