Thanks to a user-friendly format and minimal software requirements, Twitch poker live streaming has caught on in 2015 and expanded to reach poker fans worldwide. Personalities such as Jason Somerville and Jaime Staples have paved the way for hundreds of talented players to try their hand at casting online poker play in real time.
As up-and-coming poker streamers compete for a small share of the overall poker audience, one undesirable trend has made its way into many’s shows — copyrighted music.
What a lot of streamers have come to realize is that playing tunes during their play helps them pass the time more pleasantly or lighten the mood in what can be a series of repetitive poker-related tasks. However, the aim of this article is to give poker streamers reasons why they should not include rights-protected audio within their casts — even during tournament breaks.
Full Length Reproduction Does Not Comply with “Fair Use”
“Fair Use” laws that revolve around copyrighted material are vague at best. They differ vastly by jurisdiction, but full length reproduction is a no-no wherever you’re located.
Fair Use is for content creators who utilize clips for review, promotional and other purposes. Basically, every time you play a full copyright-protected song on your cast, you (or the streaming platform — or both) are breaking Fair Use laws.
Whether or not you own a copy of that material through iTunes or Spotify is irrelevant. If in-stream music is something that you absolutely feel you must have, then try out Twitch Music. Their library includes more than 1,000 royalty-free tunes.
Videos on Demand (VODs) with Copyrighted Music are Muted
Twitch streamers who make use of copyright-protected material may have noticed that their “Past Broadcasts” and “Highlights” are muted in sections that contain mainstream music.
This severely hampers a poker streamer’s ability to grow his or her audience through archived content, as videos without any sound are not very entertaining.
Those who stream on YouTube are punished even further, and run the risk of having their entire account “flagged” or terminated altogether if they continue to cast copyright-protected music.
You Are the Star of the Show
This is a point that I’ve reiterated to several poker players who routinely cast their play. The stars of the show should always be them and their audience. If you are struggling to build an audience, try different methods of engaging viewers with in-stream discussion and social media outreach.
Be creative and don’t rely on someone else’s intellectual property to cover for rough parts of your entertainment.
Copyrighted Music Adds Nothing of Value to the Viewer
Let’s face it… it’s not very difficult to find and listen to our favorite songs. Viewers can find this form of entertainment within its own Twitch category, on YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, and tons of other places.
All music does is fill in spots of dead air that could otherwise be used for actual poker or even off topic discussion. It can also take away from a streamer’s cast by modifying chat topics to what recording artist is one the air rather than more important (and engaging) action at the online tables.
Good luck keeping any poker discussion on topic if a large percentage of your audience is commenting on Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, and making music requests that will inevitably take away from poker action.
Poker and Your Personality Should Set the Tone
The tone of any cast should be based on two things: poker and the caster. Music often induces mood swings not only in the audience but in the streamer as well.
Online poker play, especially tournaments, is an up-and-down form of entertainment that runs hot and cold regardless of what music is being played in the background.
This results in a lot of awkward moments when audio (which should be dominated by the caster) is playing some form of music that doesn’t correlate with the on-screen reality of online poker action.
In other words, a slow song is a ridiculous background for an intense final table while a hard rock song is a laughable stab when a big pot is lost in real time. The tone of a poker stream should always be dependent on what’s going on in the foreground rather than the background.
Work On Your Casting Imperfections
Copyrighted music aside, it’s always a good idea to independently devise ways to make your poker stream more appealing to viewers.
Outright bans for streamers who use protected audio material (even on Twitch) could be right around the corner, so be ahead of the curve and make your poker live stream something that can be enjoyed without non-original props.