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Did Facebook, Instagram Actually Ban Music Livestreams?

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(Hypebot) — The devastation which coronavirus has wrought on the live entertainment industry has left the music business understandably skittish, so it’s no surprise that an upsettingly vague announcement from Facebook that they would be cracking down on online “music listening experiences” sent industry executives into a tailspin.

Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix

After sending shockwaves through the music industry last week, Facebook has clarified its statements regarding “music listening experiences.”

It’s not hard to send the music business into a panic these days. The novel coronavirus has shuttered live music for the foreseeable future, physical media sales are dropping like an anchor, and nobody seems to know when some semblance of “normalcy” will be possible. To make matters worse, everything is online, and each day brings new rules and regulations that dictate how artists can (or cannot) use existing platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to further their careers.

Facebook scared music executives worldwide when it announced plans to crack down on what it labels “music listening experiences.” The new rules, as explained in Facebook’s Music Guidelines, stated: “You may not use videos on our Products to create a music listening experience. The rules go into effect on October 1.

The social media giant made a significant mistake in its announcement. The phrase “music listening experiences” is too vague. The news made many in entertainment worry that the world’s largest online platform would no longer allow live stream concerts and listening events, two promotional tactics that are seen as vital to music marketing success in the COVID age.

After days of outcry and concern, Facebook clarified its statements on Monday, September. The company wrote in its blog:

“We want to encourage musical expression on our platforms while also ensuring that we uphold our agreements with rights holders. These agreements help protect the artists, songwriters, and partners who are the cornerstone of the music community — and we’re grateful for how they’ve enabled the amazing creativity we’ve seen in this time.

“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”).”

They added: “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.”

“These guidelines are consistent across live and recorded video on both Facebook and Instagram, and for all types of accounts — i.e. pages, profiles, verified and unverified accounts.

“And although music is launched on our platforms in more than 90 countries, there are places where it is not yet available. So if your video includes recorded music, it may not be available for use in those locations.”

Last weekend, a spokesperson for Facebook also confirmed to NME that although new guidelines will come into effect across the site in October, the music guidelines have been in place for some time and will not affect artists using the site to livestream gigs or share their music.

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