DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) strikes on Twitch streamers have forced thousands of gamers to delete their streams and popular videos in order to stay on the platform. Until now, royalty free music options have been extremely limited, with streamers risking either their place on the Twitch platform or their fan base engagement due to music choices.
Roughly seven months ago, Slip.Stream launched with a copyright strike safe library of more than 50,000 songs and 50,000 sound effects–the largest initial library of any existing platform. The Slip.Stream team has created a safe haven for creators and musicians alike to freely collaborate and grow their fan bases without fear of legal conflicts or lack of fair compensation. Now, streamers can not only use the music they love in videos, but thy can also work with artists directly to build a shared fan base and unique musical content that suits their brands. With Twitch being a relatively untapped platform for artists, Slip.Stream is paving the way for new music markets and sources of revenue.
Slip.Stream has announced partnerships with several major creators and gamers, including FaZe Blaze, FaZe H1ghsky1, and Clix, with whom they will create personalized music collections and content opportunities. On the music side of the venture, artists such as Big Havi, Powers Pleasant, and Yak Gotti have gotten involved. T-Pain recently became an official advisor for the platform, releasing his latest Pizzle Pack (a specialized music collection) in the Slip.Stream and Twitch libraries.
We spoke with Chief Music Officer and Partner Anthony Martini about Slip.Stream and the opportunities it creates for artists and content creators alike. Read the full interview below and check out Slip.Stream now. Let us know what you think.
How did Slip.stream come about?
Slip.Stream officially started about seven months ago or so now. All of us founders had worked together previously at a music music licensing platform called Jingle Punks. I helped them start that around ten (or more) years ago, so I've known the whole team for a little while. That was a successful company that eventually sold to WME, and then to a large Canadian music fund a couple of years ago.
The idea is rooted in the creator and the creator economy. I came from the music management and record label side, whereas they were more in the production, music, and the tech sides of the industry. My experience had been as an independent record label owner, and I would talk to certain artists and their social media didn’t have a crazy following, but they had tens of millions of streams on multiple different songs.
As I dug in and learned a little bit more, I started to see that they were leveraging the gaming community, whether it be montage videos for games or just allowing Twitch streamers to use their content. It became apparent to me that the gaming world is really driving streams to the traditional platforms, but that major labels often try to block creators from using the music because they think it won’t increase the number of streams. It actually has the opposite effect, though. When you let people use music, it actually creates more consumption for it, which is something I saw from my side on the label.
"When you let people use music, it actually creates more consumption for it, which is something I saw from my side on the label."
We see all sorts of DMCA takedown notices and complicated rights issues, and many creators now don’t understand or care about them. They want to use good music, but in the past, there haven’t been many great options. Slip.Stream gives creators access to music they’ll want to use with their content and it gives artists opportunities to break as new artists through collaboration with the creator community. There are other companies that provide different songs and music libraries, which creators can use, but the options are very limited and don’t really cater to the needs of the creator. We wanted to create a music library that also has a front line label component to it. We’re signing and trying to promote artists in a new way.
Tell us about your transition from working as a label executive to being a part of Slip.Stream.
It's not too different of a transition because the label that I founded and ran was an independent label and we operated on more flexible rules and artist-friendly contracts. One of the interesting parts about being involved with a platform like Slip.Stream is that we can be a little more creative in terms of the types of products that we could make. Rather than just signing artists and going out and finding the next big thing, we actually create musical properties that didn't exist before–Whether it be a game, an influencer, or a brand.
One example of something we're doing currently is that we created something called the “Stream Pack”, which is essentially a collection of songs that are aligned with whatever the talent's branding is. That's sort of like their ready-to-go pack of music and all their fans can go use it, but it's sort of leveraging their fanbase. We found this gamer named Clix, who is one of the most popular Fortnite streamers in the world and is an esports player. He loves hip hop. He got hit with a couple DMCA strikes for using uncleared music and was at risk of being kicked off Twitch because with one more strike, you're sort of gone. He's making a really good living there, so that would take him off the platform and damage his career. We reached out to him and said, “we know you; you're into this type of music and you’re not a musician–you're not a rapper–but we can create a musical soundtrack for you based on the artists, producers, and vibes you like”. We're going to have the Clix Stream Pack and a single we made for him is going to be Clix featuring these huge, huge rappers that he likes. We're actually going to try and promote that and break it as a single, even though he's not traditionally a musician.
Where did the idea for the company name come from?
It just sounds cool. Streaming is obviously a big part of it, whether it's streaming on the music side or streaming from a content perspective. That was something we wanted to incorporate into the name and Slip.Stream just kind of rolls off the tongue; we like the ring of it.
What has been the most challenging part of starting the company?
We have a decent amount of users that are already using the platform–over seventy thousand–which is really great for it having been such a short short period of time from a creator standpoint. Now, we're trying to build up the repertoire aspect by signing artists, which sometimes takes a little while to become competitive because we’re competing with other labels to sign and then trying to bring new elements to the process. I think that's going to take a while to build, but other than that, we’ve been really successful so far (individually and together). This was really just us all joining forces and learning from our prior experiences, which have actually made this new venture easier to kick off. The main thing we’re working on now is spreading awareness about the platform and building up the artists that we work with.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself heading into this venture?
I think I’d tell myself not to be afraid to break some of the rules. It’s important to train your mind to not rely on any of the old blueprints because we're paving our own way and trying to forge a new path. Sometimes we fall back on, “this worked before for this, so let's do the same thing again,” but I think the whole big idea behind what we're doing is to try things in a completely different way.
Talk about the benefits of Slip.Stream both for artists and for Twitch streamers.
As a streamer on Twitch, you're coming in and getting access to a pre-cleared catalog of songs that you're not going to have any legal issues using in your content, so that makes things really easy on that side. There are no worries and we try to separate things into different buckets of vibes, themes, and moods to make the search part of it easy on the artist's side. As an artist, you're able to access a whole community of influencers and creators that are looking to use your music and help you break, as opposed to the usual relationship, where you're out having to pay them individually to try and post your song, hoping that something sticks. This is sort of built in, so that's a little bit different. Other than that, we hope it’s a better experience than what your traditional label experience would look like.
How do you find the music that you add to your library?
We currently have a library of about 60,000 tracks that was built up through different in-house producers and songwriters. We launched with what was the biggest initial library of any platform that's out there, and now we’re going to build upon that in the next few months. We're going to open up a musician portal, where people can submit their music and get it into the system, including distributing their music through us and we get it on DSPs. Through that, we're also putting it on our platform and allowing the creators to access it.
We can also sign them directly as a true label model, where there are going to be three layers. There'll be the library music; that's a bunch of instrumentals and stuff like that. We have artists that are just straight up distributed through us and it's really just an opt-in type relationship. We'll also have the final tier, where the music is more curated. For this, we're going after a handful of specific artists every year. Those artists are the ones that we're putting the most marketing, promotion, and resources into and trying to break their sound.
"We launched with what was the biggest initial library of any platform that's out there, and now we’re going to build upon that in the next few months."
What types of music are you looking for?
The goal is to have a good mix of everything on the platform at some point, but I think initially, we’re leaning more towards hip-hop and EDM… maybe some electronic pop. Electronic-based genres tend to be what resonates with the creator side a little more at this point, but we want to have something for everyone eventually. From a label standpoint, and with my personal expertise, hip-hop has been a dominant genre of pop culture in a lot of ways.
What are some of the artists that have been most popular with creators within Slip.Stream so far?
We work with a producer who goes by Powers Pleasant. He's a producer for Joey Bada$$ and seems to be doing really well within our community. We put out a song from him a couple of months ago, and it got a great pick-up–people have been using it in videos a lot. There’s also DJ Five Venoms, who we put in the system did really well. There have been a couple artists and producers that we noticed had a significant spike in activity after we put them in front of our creators. That's the effect we want to really have on artists; let us give you the spotlight and hopefully it encourages more streams, activity, and fan engagement.
Share a little bit about your work with T-Pain as a company advisor.
Outside of being one of the most legendary figures in the hip-hop world for decades now, T-Pain is also seen as an originator and a tastemaker for a lot of different things, like auto-tune and his ability to write some of the catchiest hooks in the world. He's also started to make an impact in the gaming world. He really leaned into Twitch; his channel has become super popular. He’s really engaged and authentic, so it seemed like the perfect match.
It wasn't a forced “let's let's go find an artist and then make them an ambassador for this”. It was all very organic and real, so we reached out and he loved it! We decided to make him an advisory board member and get him some equity in the company. He’s got some really great initiatives, from Nappy Boy Gaming to his Pizzle Packs.
How do you think the connections between the Twitch and the music communities can be furthered in the future?
A lot of it is trying to figure out types of crossover content and opportunities for musicians to interact with streamers. Twitch is huge in the gaming world and it has already reached a critical mass where there's at least one gamer that everybody knows on Twitch. The streamers have the lay of the land, whereas on the music side, it's still a relatively unexplored platform, even from a music fan standpoint. I think that the way to change that is to actually get musicians on there, where they can actively interact with the people that are already doing well on the platform. We’re figuring out interesting ways to combine fan bases through shared content and create a really powerful community.
"The streamers have the lay of the land, whereas on the music side, it's still a relatively unexplored platform, even from a music fan standpoint. I think that the way to change that is to actually get musicians on there, where they can actively interact with the people that are already doing well on the platform."
What's next for Slip.Stream?
Well, you know… we’re just planning industry domination. But more seriously, we're looking to build up to the musician side of it. We feel like the more great music we have in the system, the more creators are going to want to use us, and we feel like that'll be a natural draw. We want to do all types of cool things in this space, whether it be events, exploring the NFT metaverse, or just all the new technology that’s being created. It would be awesome to become a combination between a record label and a gaming and esports team–that’s the ideal blueprint that we’re working toward.