• Philip Marsden

How Facebook's New Music Policy Will Affect You

Facebook have announced that from 1st October, users will no longer be permitted to host ‘music listening experiences’ on their platform. “You may not use videos on our Products to create a music listening experience."

The go on to say, “We want you to be able to enjoy videos posted by family and friends. However, 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.”

On the face of it, this seems like it could have a huge impact on independent musicians and there's been a lot of scaremongering around it, but there's no reason to panic. Let's clear up a few things...

These new rules are mostly directed towards copyrighted masters.

This will affect anybody using actual studio recordings of songs to create a listening experience on Facebook, such as DJs, live streamers, or basically anybody sharing copyrighted music (in a live stream or video) that isn't their own. This is good, if people are benefitting from another artist's work, they should be paid for it.

The issue artists fear is, this will probably be detected by an algorithm, like it is on YouTube. This means that if you're live streaming with your own (copyrighted) recording playing in the background or you share a teaser video, with a snippet of your new song, the algorithm could pick it up and pull your video from the platform, because it doesn't know that you're the owner of the recording.

However, that probably won't happen here. Facebook have since clarified with some guidelines on music content. They say:

“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."

“The greater the number of full-length recorded tracks in a video, the more likely it may be limited "

This essentially means that there will be no videos with a static image, intended for listening only. They don't want you to try to recreate Spotify on Facebook. But why would you do this anyway? An image of your cover art with your song playing in the background is not valuable to your audience and that's not what they go to Facebook or Instagram for. To me, Facebook's comments suggest that music videos and lyric videos will be okay to share, but if you're sharing multiple songs in one video or stream, it could get taken down.

Will I be able to film a ticketed gig?

Originally people assumed that this wouldn't be permitted, however Facebook have said that filming an artist or band performing live is permitted.

What does this mean for performing covers?

Technically if you don't have permission, it's not allowed and never has been, it just hasn't been policed. Many people are doing live streams, performing tons of cover songs with a PayPal or Venmo tip jar. This is essentially profiting off of somebody else's intellectual property, which is why you have to fill our a PRS form at most gigs - to make sure the owner is paid when their song is performed.

That said, I'm really enjoying the live streams we've seen take off since lockdown and the way that they've pulled the independent music community together has been incredible. I don't see performing covers on them as a real issue, even if there's a tip jar. The good news is, Facebook don't either, they have since confirmed that music in stories and traditional live music performances are permitted.

To summarise how it will affect you:

- No more full master recordings in videos or live streams. You risk of your own videos/streams being pulled if they contain your own copyrighted material. This won't affect you much, Facebook advise keeping audio clips short and making sure there is a visual element.

- You can keep performing live covers.

- You can keep sharing streams/videos of any gigs you attend.

What actions do I need to take?

Probably none, but if your music career is entirely reliant on Facebook, I would strongly recommend spreading yourself across multiple platforms and building a mailing list. This way, if it becomes a hostile space for musicians in the future, you won't lose everything.

As many of you will know, I recently had my Instagram account deactivated and I don't really know why which makes it all the more frustrating, I can only assume it was hacked. At 3.5k followers, I lost the entire profile and I can't get it back. You don't realise how stressful this is until it happens.

Thankfully, my social media presence was strongly spread across other platforms and I had built a mailing list. This meant I could still be in touch with you, still share the content I had made for you and rebuild quickly. If I was reliant on that Instagram profile alone, I could have been a lot worse off. So, speaking from experience, it's essential that you don't rely solely on your Facebook profile to connect with your audience, use YouTube, use Twitter, use TikTok and build a mailing list so that you can always keep in touch with your fans. Technology changes fast and you need to future proof your music career!

Quote source: NME.

Looking to grow your fanbase on Spotify? Download my free guide - 8 Steps to Getting Playlisted and Maximising Your Music on Spotify here.