Breaking Down Facebook’s New “Music Guidelines”

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  • Facebook’s new “Music Guidelines” have left musicians scratching their heads.
  • Videos that aim to create a “listening experience” will be subject to removal.
  • How will this play out for the future of music live streaming?

Is Facebook About To End Live Streaming For Musicians?

After what could be described as the most challenging year of recent times for bands, artists and the live music industry as a whole, Facebook has made headlines again for its ambiguous music guideline rules that it attempts to enforce on October 1st 2020.

The guidelines have left musicians scratching their heads, stating that:

‘’You may not use videos on our Products to create a music listening experience. 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.’’Facebook Music Guidelines

The news comes after the majority of live music events in 2020 were cancelled due to the pandemic, resulting in not only bands, DJs and artists, but also sound and lighting engineers, stagehands, events staff and more being out of work during lockdown.

As a result, we have seen musicians turning to live streams as a form of income with fans being able to watch their favourite artist’s live sets from the comfort (and safety) of their own home.

The rule suggests that anyone live streaming without the correct copyright permissions will risk having their accounts deleted, however at this stage what constitutes a ‘’listening experience for yourself or for others’’ could not have been more unclear.

In a report with NME, Facebook did add that these guidelines have been in place since 2018 regarding live streaming of musical content, and are nothing new:

“The music guidelines in Facebook’s Terms of Service have been in place since 2018 and we haven’t made any updates since,” they said. “They were written to balance our commitment to supporting musical expression on our platforms with also ensuring we uphold our agreements with rights holders, which remains unchanged.”NME

So What’s The Verdict?

Live streaming for artists and musicians will not be banned. These guidelines apply to those using copyrighted music on their videos.

With the emphasis being on punishing those using copyrighted music on their videos, the future of music live streaming seems relatively safe (for now).

But, this still raises questions for the likes of DJs, whose careers are largely dependent on curating and playing tracks that have been released. Will DJs be expected to obtain express permission from labels and distributors prior to going live?

If so, how would such a system operate so that it is seamless for all parties involved?

On a similar note, what do the “guidelines” allow for artists who make a living off performing covers of songs?

With platforms like Mixcloud Live attempting to provide a service dedicated to music-focused streaming, it would be in Facebook’s best interests to provide clarity on this.

In any case, the actual Music Guidelines document itself would likely benefit from a few extra lines of subtext, caveats and general clarity. The last thing we need in 2020 is yet more global panic, hysteria and bad news.