Facebook’s Music Policy and How It Affects Singer/Songwriters

Written by: Sarah Sparks | Troy University Music Industry Major | Muscle Shoals Song Rooms Intern 2020

September 17th, 2020

Facebook has recently announced that it will be cracking down more intently on the use of copyrighted music on its Products starting on October 1st, 2020. 

https://www.facebook.com/legal/music_guidelines

Articles and opinionated posts have flooded the platform since then, and it’s leaving a lot of aspiring musicians wondering how they will be affected. 

So, how will it affect us?

What exactly are Facebook Products?

First of all, it’s important to understand exactly what is considered a Facebook Product. While “products” seems to be a vague term, we can at least begin to recognize what qualifies as a Facebook Product by referring to this link:

https://www.facebook.com/help/1561485474074139

This is of course a non-comprehensive list, but perhaps one of the most important Products to recognize is Instagram. Any policies enforced by Facebook will be directly enforced on Instagram as well — so if you are an artist who relies on Instagram to market content, it is extremely important to become familiar with Facebook’s Music Policy, even if Facebook marketing is not your focus.

Can still I promote my original music?

Of course! The issue being addressed is unauthorized sharing of copyrighted music by users to who do not own the rights to share said music. It is recommended that you register your content and performances with Audible Magic for free and let them manage your digital rights.

https://support.audiblemagic.com/hc/en-us/articles/201232220-Why-register-your-content-with-Audible-Magic-

Can I promote myself by covering others’ music?

Short answer: no. Unauthorized performance or otherwise use of copyrighted music is prohibited by copyright law. Even though Facebook has not been active in monitoring music copyright infringement in the past, copyright law is not a new notion. However, you can obtain a sync license which would allow you to legally use the material. More on sync licensing here:

https://www.easysonglicensing.com/pages/help/articles/music-licensing/what-is-a-synchronization-license.aspx?fbclid=IwAR0wAH02jqHFYXjNVEvLcxWkNf7Kl-9id_FGeCTdLLEteWTJG01rRiuGK7E

Another exception to this rule would be covering a song in the public domain. Typically, songs that were copyrighted longer than 95 years ago are now a part of the public domain and can be used or performed without risk of copyright infringement. In other words, songs that were copyrighted back in 1924 entered the public domain at the beginning of this year. More on public domain here:

https://www.easysonglicensing.com/pages/help/articles/copyright-law/public-domain.aspx

Here’s what you need to take away from this info.

  • Any unauthorized use of copyrighted music will get your content booted and/or your page removed. 
  • Providing a disclaimer in your video (I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS MUSIC etc.) does NOT protect you from consequence. 
  • If you want to perform covers without a sync license, stick to audience favorites in the public domain (i.e. Amazing Grace).

Even though this is a major shift from Facebook’s previous leniency – and will no doubt make it harder for some of us to promote ourselves – the important thing to remember is that this is a good thing. We want usage rights to be protected, because that includes our own original content. 

This enforcement is a necessary change and will solidify our protections on social media for our future success as songwriters and musicians.