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YouTube’s most popular ‘Lofi Hip Hop’ livestream may return soon

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Chillhop Records is trying to work out a deal

Lofi Anime Hip Hop Studio Shizu

Fans of “Lofi Hip Hop Radio 24/7 Chill Gaming / Study Beats,” one of YouTube’s most popular 24/7 livestreams, were disappointed last week when their favorite video was gone.

“Lofi Hip Hop” refers to a genre of music that mashes up traditional hip-hop and jazz elements to create an atmospheric, instrumental soundscape. Channels dedicated to hosting constant livestreams featuring a score of different “Lofi Hip Hop” artists have become increasingly popular on YouTube, ostensibly for students looking for soothing music to study to, but none are as popular as Chillhop Records.

Chillhop Records, the channel that hosts the popular livestream, received a copyright strike from anime house Studio Shizu for the use of a character from the feature film Wolf Children. Chillhop Records used a five-second loop of one character, Yuki, studying at night. The playlist had drawn tens of thousands of avid listeners and avid participants in the stream’s corresponding chat. When the channel was taken down, people bemoaned the loss of their go-to music channel, “study group,” and their favorite anime student.

Bas van Leeuwen, the founder of Chillhop Records and owner of the YouTube channel, told Polygon the company is working with Studio Shizu to bring the livestream back.

“I don’t want to say too much about it because we’re still working on it, we’re hoping to be able to work it out,” Leeuwen said. “They outsource their copyright division to a third party, which makes decisions on their part. To me it seems, just because we’re looping a five second thing in and it’s not the main focus of the stream, it’s a win-win situation.”

Bringing the livestream back is important to the Chillhop team, but it’s not the be-all-end-all of the business, Leeuwen said. The company is trying to build a stronger community around the artists whose tracks are featured in the livestreams by organizing Q&A’s on Discord and supporting a loyal fanbase. Livestreams on YouTube are a dime a dozen, and when one is hit with a copyright strike, people very quickly move on to another channel, Leeuwen said.

Wolf Children Studio Shizu

Still, Leeuwen is proud of the effect the livestream has on YouTube’s music community. He told Polygon he was happy to see the reaction on Twitter after the channel was taken down, proving how much viewers care about those streams.

“It’s interesting to see how people meet each other’s needs in a community like that,” Leeuwen said. “It’s good to see, it’s also good to see the messages when it got taken offline to see just how much people care about it.”

The next step for Leeuwen and his team is migrating that community to platforms like Discord, where the team can moderate behavior a little better and get to know their core audience. With more than 10,000 people tuning into livestreams every hour, Leeuwen said it’s impossible to try and have any real sense of who’s a dedicated follower of the channel and who’s just stopping by.

“Look, everyone moves to another livestream,” Leeuwen said. “But through Discord, we can build more loyalty. It’s nice to see people interact that way [in chat], and I’m trying to build upon it. When you get to a certain number, you just get people shouting. It’s hard to moderate. I’m someone who looks to what’s possible instead of focusing on what is.”

Leeuwen doesn’t know when conversations with Studio Shizu will end, or if they’ll be able to negotiate a deal, but he is hopeful the livestream will start running again soon. Fans of Chillhop’s specific livestreams can tune into a separate livestream — one without the popular anime girl — for the time being.