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Facebook adds new restrictions on music use - BUT IT’S OKAY! (for the most part...)

With so many singers and musician unable to perform to live audiences since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold across the globe, many have resorted to either creating more livestreams or producing online videos to showcase their music to their fans and bring some form of new revenue in through monetisation, whilst unable to resume touring.

Since September, a particular detail of Facebook’s updated ‘terms of use’ started to do the rounds which is to come into effect from October 1st. These included apparent restrictions on social network platform, that many were reading to be a limitation on artists being able to share their own music through live-streams and videos.

The music guidelines read: You may not use videos on our Products to create a music listening experience … If you use videos on our Products to create a music listening experience for yourself or for others, your videos will be blocked and your page, profile or group may be deleted. This includes Live.’

With the pandemic hitting the live music scene hard since the beginning of the year and continuing to, music artists found livestreams an alternative to their music shows that couldn't happen in person and the perfect way to promote their music; with Facebook and YouTube being two of the preferred platforms.

Many musicians, marketing and social media experts alike believed it was time to go back to the drawing board again and it was over for musicians being able to share their work on Facebook. BUT THEY WERE WRONG.


The reason for this misunderstanding was inpart due to the ambiguity of the initial wording of the terms but also commentators not knowing the world of ‘music licensing’ intimately enough.

Since the genesis of streaming, the music industry has been battling to claw back artists and rights owners intellectual property from exploitation (intentional and non-intentional) and have been in discussion with corporations such as Apple/Spotify/Youtube/Facebook for a long while now. This change in user terms is a sign of those new agreements coming into place and Facebook protecting itself also from any future litigations. In fact, this is a really good thing for our valued musicians and creators and we hope it paves the way for more.

To confirm, Musicians themselves WILL NOT have problems performing via live-streams or releasing their own music videos on Facebook's products.

The restrictions relate to ‘recorded music’ that the poster doesn’t own the copyright for nor has an appropriate mechanical or synch license to use. For example:

  • DJ’s /radio stations doing live streams of other artists recorded music (intellectual property) original recordings or remixes of.

  • Brands using well known music (which they don’t own the copyright to) in their marketing videos without the appropriate commercial use licenses in place.

  • Users playing extensive lengths of recorded music in their live-streams or their own personal videos.

Following the outcry of worry from musicians online and ‘experts’ in the world of social media, a representative from Facebook has since clarified their guidelines for using music in video. Their statement can be read below:

"We want to encourage musical expression on our platforms while also ensuring that we uphold our agreements with rights holders. These agreements help protect the artists, songwriters, and partners who are the cornerstone of the music community — and we're grateful for how they've enabled the amazing creativity we've seen in this time.

Our partnerships with rights holders have brought people together around music on our platforms. As part of our licensing agreements, there are limitations around the amount of recorded music that can be included in Live broadcasts or videos. While the specifics of our licensing agreements are confidential, today we’re sharing some general guidelines to help you plan your videos better:

Music in stories and traditional live music performances (e.g., filming an artist or band performing live) are permitted.

The greater the number of full-length recorded tracks in a video, the more likely it may be limited (more below on what we mean by “limited”).

Shorter clips of music are recommended.

There should always be a visual component to your video; recorded audio should not be the primary purpose of the video.

These guidelines are consistent across live and recorded video on both Facebook and Instagram, and for all types of accounts — i.e. pages, profiles, verified and unverified accounts. And although music is launched on our platforms in more than 90 countries, there are places where it is not yet available. So if your video includes recorded music, it may not be available for use in those locations."

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