I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t have a concrete answer to the question “What do we do now?”. This article is to give you a fair warning and hopefully a head start on changing up how you’re currently producing or consuming your music content on Facebook. With the very general statement of new music guidelines, and a lack of options stating how to license the music for the platform, Facebook might be chasing a dollar too many and cutting off their own nose in the process.
The guidelines are pretty clear, “You may not use videos on our Products to create a music listening experience”, unless
of course you sign up to eventually pay fees on them… maybe? See, the problem is that they’re not really being clear here. Facebook has always muted music they felt might belong to someone else but this seems to be something new. When music venues around the world started to close down in the first months of 2020, due to the-thing-that-shall-not-be-named, artists tried to quickly find a new way of reaching their audience with live performances on Facebook live videos. The platform was not ready. There were glitches galore and too many streams at once often dropped the live streams but as Facebook tried to rebound, they also started planning. With less business ads happening and music surging they began to roll out a paid streaming service in April but offered to not collect fees for a year. Those odd ‘rooms’ they added seem to be part of this new feature.
What does this mean? I’m not a legal expert but from the guidelines, articles about music pages already losing their content because it contained music, and reports of warnings sent to podcast and radio pages that they can be taken down if they play music during their live streams, it looks like Facebook doesn’t just want to be the next YouTube and Spotify, they’re now trying to take over being a venue with the same pay-to-play attitude we all know and hate. At a glance any business page that goes live and uses music could face not only their content being removed but maybe their entire business page. All this for the sake of monetizing a type of artistic expression.
What can we do? Well, for starters, (in my best Jim Justice impression) “FOLLOW THE F**CKING GUIDELINES!!” That way you don’t get banned and find all the hard work you put in gone in a moment. There’s more to Facebook content than live videos and while the idea of leaving a platform that doesn’t seem to support your work seems like the knee jerk ‘right’ answer, the truth is there are some people who use it regularly and while they may love your band or business, they’re just not leaving it. A smarter idea would be to find other avenues such as websites, Discord, Twitch, Linkedin, etc. Try using a StreamYard type program to throw your live feed into multiple other sites at once that won’t ban your content, create regular videos and posting them at a later time (** though it should be noted that with the last option the creation of a music listening experience may or may not apply**).
Facebook basically just pulled a string that may keep unraveling and only time will tell if they roll back these policies but we should probably assume it’s for the long haul. We have multiple other services at our fingertips though so before anyone panics, take a deep breath and remember that this is just like a venue that’s trying to go the VIP route. It’s pretty much the same old for locals, we’re used to working against the current, so buckle up buttercup and let’s draw up those new battle plans!