Looks like Twitch may owe people some money. Although music streaming on the social platform seems to be growing in users by the day, it seems that they are not paying Artists their share.
Not only is Twitch allegedly not licensing music, the ARA says, the game-centric platform from all appearances also has shown “unwillingness to do anything beyond the most minimal and inadequate effort to process takedown requests” under the U.S.’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Twitch, a live streaming video platform and community for gamers and fans alike was bought by Amazon in 2014 for US$970 million. It boasts 3.9 million monthly unique streamers and 1.274 million average concurrent streamers.
When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos testified during a House Antitrust Subcommittee hearing on July 29th, he was asked by Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) whether Twitch allowed users to stream unlicensed music. Bezos claimed he didn’t know the answer and would investigate.
How can the richest man in the world, and owner of this platform not know this information?
This caused dismay amongst Artist managers and singers, who felt they needed some answers and a very well-deserved explanation.
The nonprofit company Artists Rights Alliance released a letter addressed to Bezos to communicate their disbelief and demanding answers pronto.
“We were appalled… by your inability or unwillingness to answer even the most basic question about Twitch’s practices in this regard,” the ARA letter says. “As Twitch uses music to grow its audience and shape its brand, the company owes creators more than the willful blindness and vague platitudes you offered during your congressional testimony.”
The letter was signed by ARA board members Rosanne Cash, music manager Thomas Manzi, John McCrea of the band Cake, singer-songwriter Tift Merritt, producer Ivan Barias, guitarist Matthew Montfort, and indie label executive and musician Maggie Vail.
“For working songwriters and performers, fair royalties on a growing platform like Twitch can literally be a matter of life and death – the difference between having a place to live and homelessness and having access to health care or being uninsured,” the ARA says in the letter to Bezos. “For other it’s the difference between being able to work as an artist or having to give up a lifetime of dreams.”
“Jeff Bezos could not answer to Congress if Amazon’s Twitch live-streaming service permitted its users to post unlicensed music,” ARA board member Tift Merritt said in a statement. “The music artists create is not only sacred in spirit and deserving respect — it also merits fair pay no matter where and how it is used.”
There are three tiers for Twitch subscriptions. Tier one costs $4.99, tier two costs $9.99, and tier three costs $24.99