Music has always been a universal language that helps bring people together during difficult times and the Covid pandemic has served to remind us of this. Yet, according to Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/legal/music_guidelines), “Use of music for commercial or non-personal purposes in particular is prohibited unless you have obtained appropriate licenses. 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. Unauthorized content may be removed.”
This is the heart of the new guidelines, considering that the rest of the information on this page is not news to those of us who have indeed been enjoying or using Facebook to share music. I understand that there’s some grey area around laws trying to catch up with technology and protection for musicians, but this is more hurtful to musicians than to anyone else. The way they have been running it, muting the sound in videos using clips of unlicensed music that are too long, seems to be more than enough already. It seems strange to cut off professional musicians from their fans, especially while it’s irresponsible to go on the road, knowing not every fan will follow CDC guidelines. Facebook is one of many social media platforms that have become an important outlet for marketing in all of its forms – including live music performances for professional or novice musicians. Not to mention that musicians have enjoyed this outlet for their musical expression. As I personally follow many musicians on Facebook and Twitter, official accounts only, I’ve seen their gratitude at being able to use these social platforms in such a way.
In a during and post-Covid world, this act is unimaginable to me. Not only have live performances of music between friends been a boon during these difficult times of separation and quarantine, but it has been a way for the masses to enjoy concerts and new music from their favorite musicians. People came together around the world through these platforms to share music and inspire each other through groups such as Quarantine Karaoke. When Bill Withers, Kenny Rogers, and Joe Diffie, among other musicians, died during strict isolation times, these people were able to share their music and truly feel part of a global community. Mourning the loss of such wonderful creators together felt beautiful – it was a wonder of technology.
While regulations make some sense for the protection of artists and businesses, these seem extreme and unnecessary. Especially since musicians themselves aren’t the ones calling for such changes.
One of the arguments in favor of these changes is the semantics of what are considered “music sharing platforms” or “social media platforms”. However, YouTube is considered a social media platform, yet it makes professional music in a variety of formats available to the public. Therefore, it is also a music sharing platform. With this service, it is up to the performer to choose how much they want to make from the site based on the time and effort they put into their projects, as well as their own marketing strategies (which may involve paid campaigns through YouTube or its official music video counterpart Vevo). These videos are still free and available to the public, including live streams, unless the artist themselves have put up a paywall. Dealing with advertisements is worthwhile for free entertainment to some, such as myself, while others choose to pay into a subscription to bypass advertisements. Those fees go toward paying the musicians for their work – either from the customer choosing not to view advertisements, or from the advertisers whose ads are viewed.
As a part of the music loving community and as a broke individual, I am a concerned citizen in this matter and I’m writing as such.