Twitch criticized over its 'exploitative' affiliate fast-track scheme

An owl delivers an envelope to medieval adventurers
(Image credit: Twitch)

Twitch has been accused of exploiting its current DMCA struggles via a new partnership with music label Monstercat, one that grants a shortcut to affiliate status for $5 a month.

As the platform's first monetisation tier, affiliate is a crucial first step for folks who want to make it big on Twitch. Traditionally, a streamer needs to unlock it by meeting a set criteria of 50 followers, 500 total minutes of broadcast across at least 7 days, and an average of three or more concurrent viewers. Alternatively, starting this week, you can just pay for a subscription to Monstercat Gold through its new Twitch program.

It's not the first time Twitch has let you flat-out buy the ability to monetize streams, mind. Earlier this year, the site partnered with Soundcloud to help bring musicians over to video streaming. But with this promotion's broader remit, many streamers are feeling a little cheated by the option to just buy your way in.

"This seems amazingly unfair to all those folks who have worked hard to get to affiliate," Spawn On Me's Kahlief Adams tweeted, "but it also feels like it lessens the value of an affiliate status if you can just buy your way in."

The timing of this partnership makes it feel particularly iffy, given the recent trouble Twitch has had with DMCA takedowns. Monstercat's appeal is in offering streamers a catalogue of songs guaranteed not to attract copyright strikes. After all, what's $5 a month to gain the ability to monetize your streams and gain access to music that won't take away your channel? 

"I think this is not good, kind of gross, and...a little exploitative?," writes esports commentator Thom Badinger. "Also depressing how The Platform sees its creators with an issue and thinks of it as a monetization opportunity vs something they should help with."

Twitch has long struggled with playing safe by the music industry, but its struggles with copyright have skyrocketed over the past few months. The company left a bad taste in streamers' mouths after recommending they play games with audio disabled, leading many to protest by making their own mouth sounds and playing rhythm games without music.

Cheers, Kotaku.

Natalie Clayton
Features Producer

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.