Here is the policy as laid out by Facebook:
‘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.’
Think about this for a moment.
It may not stop at livestreaming, but can extend to any video content including music. This will change everything for independent artists who have been using Facebook to share their music, even for free. I am already considering how I will respond to this policy change going forward.
Because Facebook is free to interpret its own policy to include not only cover songs, but original content performed by the composer as well.
Facebook is believed to be coming down hard on streamed music because they don't want to be sued by the conglomerates that own -- sit down -- almost 80% of all musical content available on the internet.
Stop and think about that for a moment.
Three conglomerates -- Disney chief among them -- own the rights to nearly EIGHTY PERCENT of the available musical content on the internet, worldwide.
How do they "own" it? Any number of ways, including recording contracts, licensing and permissions. And when a famous artist dies, companies that represented the artist during their lifetime fight in court over the rights to their output.
Compare that to the thousands of independent artists who, for far too many reasons to list here, create amazing music but never become that famous. They are forgotten in the rush for these companies to milk whatever they can from the top stars -- but copyright and licensing laws apply to the stars and to these independents equally.
When the pandemic caused a total shutdown of live gigs for me and everyone else, we turned to livestreamed concerts as a way to perform and to stay relevant. Many artists performed for free, adding only a PayPal address if you wanted to drop some money in their electronic "tip jar" and help them out a little to make up for lost revenue from cancelled live shows.
For every artist performing only their own original music, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of artists also playing cover tunes -- stuff they didn't write -- in their livestreams. And you can bet that most of them haven't paid for the right to play those songs, which means that they are in violation of a dozen or more laws around copyright and licensing.
So to avoid lawsuits, Facebook is coming down hard on ALL livestreams, cover tunes, originals, or whatever. Because there is no way to control what happens in a livestream and no way to predict what someone will play in a live situation.
So instead of picking apart an outdated and unenforceable set of copyright laws, the folks who own 80%of the content and almost 100% of our eyes-on-the-screen time will take a bludgeon to the entire creative process. Because in the end, they don't care about the livelihood of independent artists who feel called to create music for an often very modest living; they only care about their bottom line.
So you should know that, if this new policy is enforced to the point of prohibiting the performance of original content, I will be looking for new ways to share my music online, without having to pay for the privilege.
Its one thing to pay taxes to support social systems and public safety concerns. It's another to have to pay licensing orgs and other middlemen to wring the last possible pennies from independent artists who are struggling as it is.
And this is why I have refused to pay to join a licensing agency. I want to retian complete control over the music I create, and the only way for me to do that is to self-distribute. This choice limits my income, but since I do multiple things in order to make a livjng and I live fairly simply, it's a choice I can live with, and live within.
I won't tell other artists what do to, but I will say that when I share my music, how and when -- or whether -- I am paid is up to me. This gives me the freedom to share my music with the smallest synagogues and communities which might be able to afford to pay the higher prices that top-drawer/more famous artists command, and it gives me a way to get my music out there into the world.
So if Facebook really follows through with this policy change, I will need to consider how I share my music going forward.
For now, there's YouTube, and I DO put videos of single songs up there. I will continue to use my web page to share music and other info, and I may look for new ways to share my music independent of Facebook.
If you want to suggest alternatives I am all ears.
Meanwhile, you can still find my music on YouTube and Bandcamp.
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