Can I play music while streaming on Xbox? (Legalese explained)


While in the midst of streaming on my Xbox one X recently, I realized that for long spells I did not talk. A thought popped into my head. Could I play music directly through my Xbox One while I’m streaming to keep people entertained? And if I could, would it even be legal for me too? I really had no idea, so I started mining the internet for information. And this is what I found out…

Can you play music directly on your Xbox one while streaming? No. However, You can play music on a pass-through streaming PC or external music player. Caution is advised. It’s illegal to play music while streaming without consent.

Playing music on the Xbox One while streaming is illegal. You could be banned from Xbox live, Twitch. Legal action could even be taken against you. Read on to find out why you should avoid playing music streaming altogether.

How do I play background music directly through my Xbox One while streaming?

It’s actually impossible to play music directly through your Xbox while streaming. This limitation is literally built into every app that is capable of playing music on the Xbox. The apps will detect when you are streaming and refuse to play music.

If you put a CD in your Xbox’s disk drive, it will not play. If you launch Spotify, it will refuse to stream.

So, if you want to use the Xbox directly for playing music while streaming, you’re a little stuck.

Do you have any other options?

Actually, you do… there are a couple of ways you can play music while you stream. And you don’t need your Xbox. Let’s take a look at them.

Play Music in the background using a radio, CD player or another external music source

If your set on playing music in the background, and you don’t want the fuss of using special hardware, you can just play music using an external music player.

Fortunately, if you have a Kinect (I’m sure some of you still have one) or a 3rd party camera with microphones, you can just stream music in the background of your games room. The microphones built into the camera will pick up the music and transmit it over your stream so you viewers can listen too.

But what do I mean by external music player?

Here’s a list of ideas for you:

  • Hi-fi system
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • Soundbar
  • Ipad Speakers
  • Phone speakers
  • Basic radio

Basically, anything that can play music and make a sound is, in this case, an eternal music player.

So how do you set this up?

First, select the external music player you wish to use. Since the music is being picked up by a separate microphone there is no need for high-quality speakers. So, a simple Bluetooth speaker will do the job.

Now, start playing the music you wish your viewers to hear in the background.

Next, place the Bluetooth speaker close to the camera’s microphone, then start streaming your game.

Your viewers should hear the music clearly. Additionally, the music should remain clear even if you start to speak or make other sounds. This is because modern cameras and microphones are tuned to listen for the sound of a voice.

To get even better results, you should try messing around with the following variables:

  • How loud the music is
  • How close the speaker is to the camera’s microphone

Experiment with these variables. With a little tweaking, you should find an optimum position for the Bluetooth speaker. This optimum position will give the best balance between music and voice over sound quality for your viewers.

Use a Passthrough PC to stream your Xbox One while playing music through the PC

If you really must play music while you stream, and an external music source isn’t giving you the sound quality you’d like, you can use a pass-through PC.

A pass-through PC is a PC that is used to pass your Xbox’s Stream through. The stream can then be manipulated in many different ways due to the PC’s more open software and architecture.

Setting up a PC as a streaming pass-through is a very complex procedure. It is beyond the scope of this article. However, we’ll be producing an in-depth guide to explain how to do it very soon.

Using a PC pass-through offers many options to help make your stream unique. Other than just the ability to play background music. For example, you could have the music fade in and out whenever there are sounds in the background. You can even manipulate the graphics and the streaming overlay to give a different look and feel to your stream.

None of this is possible without a Pass-through PC.

Warning!

Using other people’s music in a commercial way without the original copyright holder’s consent is illegal. If you do use music without consent, you are breaking the law.

Is it Legal to play Music on Xbox one while I’m streaming?

It is illegal to play music in front of an audience for commercial gain without the copyright holder’s consent. The only time it is legal to use music while you stream is:

  1. You created the music and you own the intellectual rights
  2. You have permission from the copyright holder to use the music
  3. You are using music that is “open source”

But what do these options mean for you?

If you create the music yourself, you are the copyright holder. The music is your intellectual property. Therefor you can use it while streaming.

However, you should still use caution. Twitch and other streaming platforms may not know the music is owned by you.

Therefore, it is wise to inform them in advance of playing the music, that it is your music, and that you own the commercial rights.

Otherwise, Twitch may assume you are infringing on somebody else’s copyright and they’ll shut you down.

If they do this, it could take you weeks or even months to get your Twitch account back online. Leaving your streaming career months behind schedule.

Your second option is to get permission from the intellectual property right holder.

However, this will be beyond the ability of most streamers

Why?

Because buying the rights to play music costs a lot of money. And, the volume of money involved is dependent on the number of people you stream too.

The more people you stream too, the more cash you’ll have to pay to play music.

Plus, you’ll have to pay per track!

For example, It could cost as little as a few hundred dollars to buy the rights to stream a single track to 10 people.

Unfortunately, this low price quickly escalates.

That same track may cost millions of dollars to buy if you want to stream to hundreds of thousands of viewers. And again, that’s just for one track.

Ok, obviously you don’t want to pay that sort of money.

So, let’s assume for a second you thought you could get away without paying. Let’s hope you don’t get caught. It’s not something you want to happen.

4 nasty things could happen to you which include:

  1. Your streaming account being shut down. For life.
  2. Your Xbox live account being banned. For life.
  3. You could receive a letter from some very powerful lawyers asking you to cease & desist.
  4. Or those very powerful lawyers could just send you a letter asking you to come to court so you can pay a huge, and I mean huge, fine.

You don’t want any of these scenarios to play out.

The safest thing to do is not play any music at all. After all, People want to watch you entertain them. If they come to your stream and ask to listen to music, tell them to turn on their own radio.

What can I while streaming instead of playing music?

Playing music while streaming will probably get you banned.

So what should you be doing instead?

If you’re new to the streaming game, I’d highly recommend you start practicing being an entertainer.

Because that’s what people watch your stream for: to be entertained.

And you can’t start practicing being an entertainer after you have an audience. You have to practice being an entertainer before you have an audience.

Even if your all alone and your stream is empty, you should be practicing. You should practice talking. Practice making jokes. Practice being the entertainer that you want to be. Practice living the brand you want to communicate to your viewers.

People don’t come to you to be entertained by the games you play. They come to you to be entertained by you. You are the star of your own stream.

Why do you think huge hollywood stars are paid so much? It’s because people pay to watch people entertain them. They do not pay for the film to entertain them. Only once you understand this, will you understand streaming.

For example, when people go to the cinema to watch the latest Wolverine film, they are interested in seeing Hugh Jackman play the Wolverine and play out a story. Without Hugh, the film would be nothing.

And so it is with Streamers. If all that mattered was the the game, viewers would just watch videos on youtube.

People choose to watch you. You are the magic behind the stream. Viewers are there for you, not the games you play.

They choose you because you, with all the different qualities you bring to streaming, make them happy. You make them feel positive emotions. You take them on a roller coaster ride of a story every time they tune into your stream.  

So practice being you and forget about the music.

Instead of playing music become the brand that you want to create for your viewers.

If you need to rely on music, you need to rethink your brand. You need to rethink your plan to become an entertainer.

Here some ideas for what you should be doing instead of playing music:

  • Always talk. Even if nobody is watching your stream, practice talking. Practice entertaining
  • Always answer questions on the chat board. Engage with your audience
  • Practice living your brand. If you your brand is to be dressed up as a robot, then dress up as one from the first day you start streaming. You must be your brand before anybody follows your brand
  • Always ask questions. Again it engages your viewers.

Conclusion

Do not play music. You’ll likely get banned, and at worse, sued.

Instead, you should concentrate on becoming an entertainer while you play games.

Don’t serve them up some music they could get by tuning into the radio.

People come to watch you, so give them you.

Related Questions

Can I play films in the background while a stream? No. Films also come under copyright laws. Avoid playing films in the background.

Is Mixer a viable option instead of Twitch? Yes, Mixer can be used instead of Twitch. However, it is not as well known and it has a smaller audience.

Can I reopen a banned Twitch account? If you have been banned for life, No.

Nick Sinclair

Having played games since the golden age of the Commodore 64, Nick finally took the plunge and studied Creative Game Design in university. After 3 years of "Study", Nick co-founded a games company where he soon discovered his true calling: writing about games. 11 years later Nick writes about a tower of topics, but gaming is always stacked neatly at the top.

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