Will This New Facebook Feature Transform Live-Streaming?

Last week, an official Facebook press release announced new live-streaming features.

These include the ability to add ‘donate’ buttons, watch Instagram live-streams on desktop and an ‘audio-only’ viewing option for slow internet connections.

Most importantly, “to support creators and small businesses, we plan to add the ability for Pages to charge for access to events with Live videos on Facebook”.

Facebook hasn’t gone into detail on how this will work, but plans to introduce it “in the coming weeks”.

How Will This Benefit Me?

This is excellent news for content managers and creators.

Whilst live-streaming has become a massively popular format during the pandemic, until now there has been no simple way to monetise it.

All industries can take advantage of this new feature. From yoga classes to cookery courses, brands can now earn much-needed revenue for all their live-streaming efforts.

It also allows fans to support their favourite businesses directly, without the need to visit their offline premises.

It goes without saying that musicians will also greatly benefit from this move.

We will no doubt see the creation of more personal, high-quality videos, as live-streamers strive to provide value to paying customers.

Engagement and retention rates should receive a massive boost, as customers will feel more invested in the live-stream.

All in all, the introduction of this feature will improve the live-streaming experience for both the content creator and the viewer.

What about Facebook’s Copyright Policy?

Content creators, specifically DJs, have been struggling to live-stream recently on Facebook due to their tough stance on copyright infringement. Rightly so as well, we wholeheartedly agree with IP protection! It does present some challenges though…

It’s difficult to determine concrete policy from Facebook on exactly what their line on owned content is, and even more difficult to get advice on how to publish content legitimately within their copyright framework – because nobody seems to know. 

Nonetheless, our understanding of the platform’s copyright process for music is as follows:

  • Facebook is not a content publisher
  • Audio content is claimed by publishers. For example: major labels each have a rights management team which uses Facebook’s Rights Management platform to manage their owned content.
  • Bear in mind that all three majors also distribute music and claim content on behalf of many other partners and smaller independent labels. So while you might be spinning a niche Berlin tech classic that you think never would have even been heard on High St Kensington, you may find that the artist’s label has a distribution deal with a big bad major, which has processes for claiming content – Nein!
  • When owned content is detected automatically in a live stream the content owner is notified.
  • If the content owner does not allow the owned content to run the stream is stopped, audio muted, and in some recent cases the page is blocked from live streaming. We’re unsure about this part of the process so don’t quote us on it!

This process presents a challenge for DJs who play recorded music. One of our clients even plays his own music on live streams on Facebook which subsequently has banned him from streaming.

The only way to avoid this, as we understand, is to get an agreement in place with content publishers (e.g. the aforementioned majors) who are able to ‘white list’ a page ahead of your streams, in order to avoid falling foul of a copyright infringement.

Now try asking a DJ exactly what their set list is going to be, then proactively find out who the content owner is for every track and ask all the content owners to whitelist your page – it becomes impractical to do.

Final Words

Facebook’s copyright policy is incredibly challenging for DJ’s, whose touring revenues have been wiped out due to the pandemic. It seems that they have been left with no practical way to live stream on the platform without falling foul of the copyright framework, even if there’s an appetite to pay for recorded music – there isn’t a way to do that.

Does a DJ playing someone else’s record really pose a threat to record sales? We would argue the opposite; live streamed DJ sets are an opportunity for discovery. Consumers are not recording these sets and using them to listen to individual tracks instead of finding them on Spotify, Beatport and other platforms. Diplo’s successful live streaming activity and the fact that pluggers are serving up records to him in place of club promo is case and point to this.

Facebook have not commented on whether monetised streams will be subject to the same rules, but we expect that they will be.

If fans pay to watch a live stream only for it to get taken down by Facebook after 10 minutes, it will hurt the artist’s reputation and leave the fans disappointed. 

Artists and brands alike will have to wait and see what this exciting new feature brings, and whether Facebook will address this gap in their copyright framework.

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