Texas artists seek clarity on Facebook music licensing policy

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas musicians are feeling threatened that their livelihoods could change, after Facebook made tweaks to its music licensing and livestreaming guidelines.

The company updated its music terms to include the phrase: “You may not use videos on our Products to create a music listening experience.”

That sparked worry in the music industry about how artists can connect with fans, especially during the pandemic.

“Someone needs to explain this new Facebook music licensing policy set to go into effect in October,” the Texas Music Office director, Brendon Anthony, tweeted. “I’m serious, explain it to me.”

Texas artists have leaned on social media for support and exposure during the COVID-19 outbreak, with venues around the nation shuttered.

“There’s some artists that I mean would have gone homeless if it wasn’t for live streaming,” said Chad Miller, front-man for Chad Miller and the Good Fortune.

“If we do a live stream, and someone Venmo’s, 20 bucks or something like that, that’s gas,” Miller said. “That’s important.”

Anthony said it appeared the company aimed to implement its new rules to protect artists from their work being misused, while also keeping the platform focused on social engagement.

“Facebook has always said they want to create a social environment on their platform,” he said. “They don’t want to be a streaming service like Spotify or Pandora or YouTube.”

After questions arose, the social media company updated its media blog to clarify streaming of traditional live music performances is permitted.

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.

“If you’ve written a song, and you’re playing a house concert for your friends, or your people that you’re trying to stay in touch with, that’s still fine,” Anthony said. “And that hasn’t changed.”

The key for the social media giant is making sure the people sharing the music have the license to do so.

“Every source of revenue you can have absolutely matters,” Miller said.

According to Facebook, the policies apply across its Facebook and Instagram platforms.

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