Twitch today announced it’s shutting down Twitch Sings, the built-in karaoke streaming feature it announced two years ago. While the exact reason it’s closing isn’t exactly clear, it might have something to do with the copyright struggles the site’s been having for the last few months.
We've made the difficult decision to close Twitch Sings on January 1, 2021 to invest in broader tools and music services on Twitch. Thank you for rocking our world. For more info: https://t.co/ItImv3u75v pic.twitter.com/jJqICzp8Ul
— Twitch Sings (@TwitchSings) September 4, 2020
The feature was really more of a game — a Rock Band-ish game, to be precise. If you’ve never played it, essentially the streamer would sing along to a song of choice, and their viewers could request certain songs or challenges and cheer the streamer on. While Twitch Sings hasn’t exactly been the site’s biggest draw, I did see streamers doing it as a novelty on community nights and for charity streams. Twitch has made several overtures to non-gaming content, with Twitch Sings being the biggest push. Several streamers voiced their dismay in the replies to the above tweet.
According to Twitch’s announcement, the company will begin the shutdown on December 1 by removing Twitch Sings videos and clips “per our contractual obligations,” whatever that means. The company also said it’ll be releasing its backlog of over 400 songs, so that anyone who wants to enjoy Twitch Sings at some point over the next few months can sing whatever they please from Twitch’s old catalog.
It could be that streamers are singing songs that might be vulnerable to DMCA takedowns, which have become a persistent problem for streamers. Playing copyrighted music can get streamers slapped with a temporary ban, or some of their clips containing said music can be removed. In June, Twitch was hit with a mass DMCA claim for two years’ worth of clips, though it didn’t say whether any of the clips were from Twitch Sings. I would think karaoke would fall under fair use, but what do I know?
📢 This week, we've had a sudden influx of DMCA takedown requests for clips with background music from 2017-19. If you’re unsure about rights to audio in past streams, we advise removing those clips. We know many of you have large archives, and we're working to make this easier.
— Twitch Support (@TwitchSupport) June 8, 2020
As for what Twitch is going to do for the musical community going forward, Twitch implied it’s doing something: “As we look to the future, we have decided to invest in broader tools and services that will help support and grow the entire music community on Twitch.” I’m not exactly sure what that means. However, Twitch has recently launched its Watch Parties feature, which makes use of Amazon Prime videos to allow users to watch movies and shows together. Perhaps a similar feature involving Amazon Music is in the works? I wouldn’t hold my breath, though.
Twitch Sings will stop working completely on January 1.