Late last night after I had turned off the fourth Twitch stream in a row because the music the stream had playing was unpleasant to me, I tweeted this:
Due to the brevity Twitter requires I was unable to fully explain why I felt this way in this single tweet. I wanted to take a second and write why I feel the way I do about playing music while streaming.
First – lets assume everything is setup and balanced well. The music is loud enough for me to hear, but not so loud that it drowns out the content the streamer is creating. If I enjoy this music (or am neutral about it) I will not mind. If I dislike the music I will likely leave. In this case the streamer lost a viewer because they did not like the music, even if they wanted to watch the content otherwise.
Now – the common response to this is some people watch twitch streams explicitly for the music. In the digital age today, it is very easy to share playlists of music. Pandora, Spotify, and other services easily allow a stream to have a link that says “listen to my music” below their stream. This allows for people who want the streamer’s music to enjoy it, while not turning off people who dislike it. Even my smart phone can play music while watching Twitch at the same time.
The other defense of music on stream I heard from several people is that the streamer just wants to listen to music. Using modern streaming software, like OBS, a streamer can very easily select individual audio channels to send to their stream. They can very easily listen to their own music while streaming and not share it with the rest of the world directly.
Not playing music directly on the stream also has the added benefit that any archives you create will not be muted for copy right reasons. This means people who like the streamer’s content will be able to see more of it. Being able to archive things without audio disputes to a place like YouTube can also be an additional revenue source for streamers.
Finally – Yes I used to play music while streaming. I did it because most people I watched stream did it and it seemed like the norm. I realize now that it lost me viewers then for the reasons I list here and I am glad I stopped doing it.
Taste in music is subjective. Regardless of how many people are enjoying a stream’s music, it is always costing the content creator some viewers who dislike the music. There is a reason major sporting / eSports events do not play music as an underscores to their shows – it is a net positive not to.