Facebook recently announced new music guidelines going into effect on October 1st. When they mentioned cracking down on “listening experiences” everybody freaked out and assumed that facebook for musicians as we know it was ending.
In this mini bonus episode, we talk about what the guidelines really mean (probably) and how they will affect your artist business on Facebook.
KOBY: [00:00:00] We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you a music industry update. Today. We want to talk about some rumors that you may have heard regarding Facebook cracking down on music being performed or streamed in live How’s it going everybody I’m Koby Nelson and I’m joined by Jake Mannix.
JAKE: [00:00:52] Hey. Hey.
KOBY: [00:00:53] We just want to kind of touch on this subject because it’s something that I’ve been seeing around social media all over the place. And it seems like people are, are definitely worried about it. So, first of all, before we start, I just want to say.
Don’t freak out Facebook doesn’t hate you, music or musicians. We’re going to explain what this really means for everybody out there as an artist who’s using the platform to perform or live stream and things like that. so, so just to give us a quick rundown, like Jacob, you heard about this crack down on music.
It’s beginning October 1st, but are you aware of, or what have you heard about it so far?
JAKE: [00:01:30] I’ve heard a little bit of this, a little bit of that.
I’ve heard that Facebook can now do something like delete bands or artists, Facebook pages. If they are. Caught like improperly streaming or something.
KOBY: [00:01:47] Perform like live like Facebook live and stuff like
JAKE: [00:01:51] live streaming.
KOBY: [00:01:51] Yeah. So that is the gist of what is going on, on October 1st. So basically. What happened is Facebook put out an announcement that there’s been an update to some of the, music guidelines for the platform, which happens occasionally.
This isn’t like something new that has never happened before that they like. Update their guidelines, for using the platform. So they announced it. They’re going to be cracking down on pages that use video or the Facebook live features for what they call listening experiences. And lots of musicians out there heard that.
Which is a frankly vague wording. I think of like, what’s going on, like listening experiences. So people, when people heard that they sort of instantly freaked out and tons of artists and bands are posting all about it all over the place. because many of them have been using Facebook for virtual concerts and things like that.
Music videos, even for the last few months, Obviously with all of the COVID stuff going on, that’s become a big part of lots of musicians, businesses and brands. So it seemed like everybody immediately assumed that Facebook was talking about that when they made this announcement.
like all of a sudden Facebook decided we hate musicians, get these filthy musicians off of Facebook. Like that was kind of the message, but. Really that is not the case. That’s not what’s going on. the, the guidelines are up there for people to read. and really it’s kind of the, I don’t know the legal legalees stuff in, the description of what they’re doing.
That I think has a lot of people confused. so to understand what’s really happening. I think there are two things that you really have to understand first and that’s number one. What do they actually mean by listening experiences? That’s the wording that they’ve chosen and what are the reasons behind this new decision to update the music guidelines in the first place?
I think first, I want to start with that second bit, like the reasoning behind why they decided to do this. Really. You kind of have to think about Facebook’s primary goal as a company or as a business and as a platform, what they want, everything that they want to do is in order to get more people actively using the platform.
So that means they want human beings, real people. Interacting with the features that they give you commenting, liking or reacting, to, to posts, messaging each other, sharing posts and posting themselves using the live feature and stuff like that. What they don’t want is passive users or people who are just kind of like turning on Facebook and stepping away from the computer.
So they don’t want you to go on Facebook, turn on a video or turn on a live stream. And then I don’t know, go about doing something else while passively listening to that live stream or that video. Like they don’t want you to go cook dinner, having this music playing on Facebook. That’s that’s something that you would use like Spotify or Apple music or some other platform for, so when they’re talking about listening experiences is that’s the type of thing that they’re talking about.
They don’t want people setting up videos and streams, right. As if they were a playlist on Spotify or Apple music, something for passive listening. So for, for artists out there, I mean, this does present a little bit of a question and you kind of have to assess how you use the platform. I think so if, if you’re doing something like stringing a bunch of your music together, as if it were a playlist, like, say, say you put up your whole album on Facebook as a video and just slap your album art over the top of it.
I mean in, in that case, yes. Ma Facebook might take that down because that’s not the type of content that encourages active user active listening. That would be more of a passive listening sort of thing. That’s not going to get much engagement. Does that make sense, Jake?
JAKE: [00:06:11] Yeah, I mean it, I understand why they wouldn’t want that, but also. That is something that people want.
KOBY: [00:06:19] it is. Yeah. And there are definitely going to be artists who have to switch up the way they do things a little bit. But I think the key there is that Facebook isn’t telling you that you can’t put music on Facebook. they, in fact, I would say they don’t want you to stop playing live shows of your own like original content on there.
They don’t want you to stop. Posting about your music altogether or posting music videos. In fact, I would argue that they probably would encourage you to continue doing that. If it’s driving a lot of engagement to the platform, if you’re getting comments, if you’re getting shares, if you’re getting likes, if all of those things are coming from the content that you’re posting, that’s what they ultimately want.
Especially if it’s legal content. Here’s the second part. That’s kind of key. It’s legal content that you own the rights to. That’s that’s I think still perfect for the platform. So artists shouldn’t be super, super worried about that. If you’re, if you’re worried about going live and playing a set of your own music and having it be blocked by Facebook, I don’t think that’s something that you necessarily need to worry about.
I mean, there are still some potential gray areas, I think. so for example, if you post. A smaller version of the example I gave earlier. So you don’t post your whole album, but you post a single of, one of your original songs that just has the album art as the quote unquote video portion where there’s no like moving picture, it’s just the album art picture with music playing over it.
Will that be taken down? I don’t know, possibly. th the other thing that I’ve seen a lot of people worrying about is live streams of, or videos of DJ sets. again, I would say possibly, and maybe even more likely to be taken down in that case, because chances are, there’s some copyrighted material in that mix also.
So, I don’t know. The DJ thing is, is really one of the things that calls into question the performance of copyrighted material, which is also mentioned in Facebook’s music guidelines. Yes. The thing with that though is just to be completely clear on this, that part of the guidelines. Isn’t new. it’s never been okay to perform copyrighted material on Facebook in videos in Facebook live.
That’s always been a thing and that’s not, that really doesn’t have anything to do with Facebook. That’s actually just illegal, at least in America. so it’s, it’s one of another, one of things. That’s kind of been a weird gray area because it’s been. Widely overlooked, whether intentional or not, it may just be that Facebook didn’t have doesn’t have, or didn’t have the resources to really crack down on it too much.
like people playing covers in a live stream on Facebook. a lot of people haven’t really been getting kicked off for that, even though it technically still is against Facebook’s guidelines has always been against Facebook’s guidelines. And on top of that, it’s. Actually technically illegal it’s copyright infringement.
I think one of the ways that people get confused about this is that. Facebook has sort of taken over for live performances, like in a venue, especially during COVID times. So people kind of assume that performing a set of cover songs on Facebook live is the same thing as performing at an actual.
Music venue, but it really isn’t with, without getting too in depth about the laws here. And again, I’m not a lawyer. So, there are definitely nuances here that are beyond the scope of, of what I could tell you about in detail. but to give you the basics, when you play music, a cover song, copyrighted material at an actual music venue.
That is an actual legal while potentially usually an actual legal use of that copyrighted material. And the reason for that is that venues need to purchase. What’s called a blanket license, from performance rights organizations. Again, I don’t want to get too, too crazy and in depth with this, but basically the venue will pay to be able to.
Have copyrighted material performed there and it will cover everybody who comes in and plays copyrighted material there. all of those performances have been paid for the artists, the owners of those rights of those songs they will get paid for from their performance rights organization for, The use of that song, even though maybe not the individual use of that song it’s been paid for by overall blanket license.
I hope that makes sense. The key difference is that Facebook does not have a blanket license for copyrighted material on their platform. In fact, this is another thing that’s stated in the. Music use like guidelines is that you are, as the user of the platform are completely responsible for any music that you use there.
So Facebook has nothing to do with that. They’ve they have not paid any, license for you to perform live on Facebook. So it’s, it’s kinda funny, like we we’ve talked about this little bit earlier and, before, before we were recording this, and it’s something that I always find a little bit funny is that I often see people, whether it’s on Facebook or somewhere else, like YouTube, they’ll post a little disclaimer on their video of them doing a live song or a live stream that says I do not own.
The rights to this music, it seems like that’s kind of like common, a common knowledge thing out there that for whatever reason people are supposed to do that, or have you, have you seen that or felt the need to do that in the past?
JAKE: [00:12:15] yes. I have felt the need to do that in the past because I have done it in the past. Um, when I used to post, covers to YouTube, I would put that in the, in the description.
Not, not because I did any research at all on it, but because I saw other people doing it.
KOBY: [00:12:33] Right. Yeah.
JAKE: [00:12:34] thought, why not?
KOBY: [00:12:36] I mean, that’s the thing is that you see so many people doing it that you think there must be some law or something that like, means you have to do that. And that’s the thing that I find kind of funny is because saying that you don’t have the rights to perform the music. Does not actually give you the rights to perform the music.
In fact, it’s kind of even funnier because by putting that disclaimer, you’re really just putting up a billboard that says I’m breaking the law in this video.
JAKE: [00:13:02] me. It was like, I’m letting whoever sees this, know that I’m not trying to pass this off as my own.
KOBY: [00:13:09] Yeah, but so, but, but here’s the thing with that. It’s like, As far as the law’s concerned, that’s like going to the bar drinking six Margarita’s and then driving home with a bumper sticker on your car that says, I just had six. Margarita’s like, it doesn’t matter that you volunteered the information.
You’re still going to get pulled over for driving drunk. Like the cop doesn’t care that you’re letting people know. but I think the key really with most people’s understanding of it is what you just said. Like people want it to be clear. That they’re not taking credit for the, the copyrighted material for the intellectual property.
but copyright isn’t about credit. Like it’s not a matter of credit. I mean, that’s of course a good thing too, if the songwriter gets credit, but copyrights are actually yeah.
About money. Like when you use a copyrighted song properly, people actually get paid for that use. So you need to purchase licenses. In other words, to perform a copyrighted song. If there isn’t a blanket license for a venue or something already covering that. that’s kind of Facebook.
Second part of this new, addition to their guidelines cutting down on the unauthorized use of copyrighted material. So if you’re using other people’s music without proper licenses, They’re they’re going to potentially take that down, which they should honestly, really, they should have been doing that anyways, because as far as the law is concerned, if you’re performing.
A cover without the proper licenses. You’re technically stealing, stealing money, actual money from the songwriters who wrote that song. and as a musician, I’m sure everybody out there can kind of understand at least on a fundamental level, why that kind of sucks as a song writer. cause you’re, you really are supposed to be entitled to money for somebody performing that song.
I don’t know, that’s kind of all, I really had to say about the whole new thing. I’ve seen lots of people freaking out about it, and really, it depends on what you’re doing. If you’re performing your own music on the platform. I really don’t think you have anything to worry about. If I end up being wrong on that.
And Facebook does something really crazy. We’ll do another update, but, from everything that I’ve read. You should be completely safe to post your own original content, especially if it is something that is meant to be listened to actively to have active participation from some sort of audience. Does that make sense?
JAKE: [00:15:46] I’m kind of interested to see where it’ll go and I’m interested to see if they’re going to do something like a, like a Facebook, like a true Facebook move and just be over the top, ridiculous. Or maybe they’ll embrace their new found thing. And they’ll how cool would it be if they, what was the thing called a blanket license? How cool would it be if. If they somehow worked out a deal to have a Facebook blanket license.
KOBY: [00:16:14] I think if that happened, it would honestly blow my mind because I’m sure that would cost millions and millions and millions of dollars. Cause like even radio stations need to purchase a blanket license to be able to perform copyrighted material as in like play the recordings of songs on the air.
And that is. Those are hugely expensive, just because of the volume of not volume as him. Yes. But the amount of music that they play. so in order for Facebook to really be able to like cover themselves legally, I think that would be like an astronomical amount of money. So I, I doubt we’ll see that.
Again, I’m not a, an entertainment attorney, so I, I don’t, yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know the details of that or if that would be a viable option. I mean, that sounds interesting to me. So, yeah, maybe we’ll shoot, mr. Zuck, a little email after, after this and see what the deal is. But, I just wanted to make sure that we kind of got on here real quick and let everybody know what the deal is.
Let you know that just to sum it up and be clear as an artist or a band, if you use Facebook live or videos to perform your own original music, or if you like to post your music, videos for your fans to see that, I think you have absolutely nothing to worry about with this change. You’re going to be fine.
And Facebook, I think actually wants you to keep doing those things, keep driving that engagement on the platform. So keep doing what you’re doing and. Don’t freak out and make sure that you come back in on Wednesday for the next real episode of Self-Signed Artist.
JAKE: [00:17:51] Later.