Despite unprecedented growth and burgeoning mainstream acceptance—or perhaps, in part, because of them—Twitch’s past year and change has been defined by DMCA woes. While it doesn’t seem like they’re going to abate anytime soon, a developer has created an intriguing workaround.
Per TorrentFreak, a game developer named Peter “Pequeno0" Madsen is working on a Twitch extension called SpotifySynchronizer. The basic idea is relatively simple: The extension, which you can download on Twitch, syncs viewers’ Spotify accounts with a streamer’s so that viewers can listen to what the streamer is listening to—but via official channels instead of secondhand. In theory, viewers hear all the same music at the same time as the streamer, but musical artists (or, more accurately, Spotify and labels) still get paid. Meanwhile, viewers who aren’t using Spotify just hear standard game audio.
What this means is that even though it’s a sneaky backdoor solution to Twitch’s problem du jour, it’s above board. Madsen made this happen by working within the bounds of Twitch and Spotify’s APIs, which both companies provide freely to developers.
That said, there’s some jank to it. For example, streamers have to press a “force sync” button if they want to switch to different music mid-song. This was born of limitations within Spotify’s API, but unfortunately, every bit of friction means that the bulk of streamers and viewers are less likely to use it. Also—and this should go without saying—Twitch’s DMCA dilemma is the kind of monster you can’t slay without cutting off countless heads, and Madsen’s Twitch extension only takes aim at one or two, tops.
Madsen said SpotifySynchronizer was inspired, in part, by GTA RP streamers who listen to music to accentuate the vibe of whatever crimes or fast-food industry work they might be doing, but streamers have historically used music for a plethora of other purposes. They’ve also run afoul of the music industry’s ever-watchful automated eyes due to ancient VODs from eras long before labels ever cared about Twitch, in-game sound effects, and other forms of audio that aren’t even music.
All of which is to say that SpotifySynchronizer is a cool idea, but not a silver bullet. That said, it still represents ingenuity that arguably outstrips Twitch’s own efforts, which have largely revolved around giving streamers ways to nuke their own content from orbit, just to be safe. It will be interesting to see if big streamers turn this extension into a Twitch mainstay, or if it ultimately fades into quiet obscurity.