Today Twitch announced that its online karaoke game, Twitch Sings, will be shutting down on January 1, 2021. Many in the community were caught off guard by the announcement and its details, which seems to be part of a larger problem Twitch has with music licensing.
Twitch Sings was co-developed by Twitch and Rock Band developer Harmonix and released last April as a free-to-play karaoke game built around streaming.
The news came today via the official Twitch Sings twitter account and an accompanying blog post. In the blog post, the company explained that it was investing in “...broader tools and services that will help support and grow the entire music community on Twitch.” Neither blog post nor tweet specified what that really means, and as a result, many streamers who enjoyed the game are feeling unsure of what happens next.
Twitch Sings isn’t just shutting down early next year. The Amazon-owned streaming company also explained that due to “contractual obligations,” starting December 1 of this year videos and clips on Twitch featuring Twitch Sings will start being removed.
This announcement to shut down Twitch Sings and remove all videos featuring the game comes three months after a massive DMCA takedown hit many Twitch streamers and thousands of clips on the site that featured licensed music. In the past Twitch has banned steamers over the use of copyrighted music. This latest move, to remove Twitch Sings clips, seems to be a precautionary step before DMCA claims start flooding the site once Twitch’s contracts with the various rights holders expire.
In a gesture of goodwill, Twitch is granting Twitch Sings users access to a “backlog” of over 400 new songs that had been planned for future release in the game. But on January 1 the music will stop and with no official Twitch Sings replacement announced, it might not return.