The existing relationship between artists, music publishers, content publishers, and the management at Facebook has not proven to be favorable to both unsigned and signed artists struggling to publish their work on the platform.
Throughout the past year, there has been a growing problem on Facebook of music being pulled down off the site due to copyright infringement notifications. The most extreme cases has seen users of the site having their cover songs yanked down for “breaking copyright restrictions”. Many emerging artists and performers have complained that this is infringing upon their creativity, and are being hit with major copyright notices and threats of Facebook closing their account should they continue to violate.
Despite this, companies such as Universal Music Publishing Group have continued to pull down cover versions of songs as well as other artists’ works due to their assumption of infringement.
How many contemporary artists have gained publicity through cover songs? Think about it. Nearly everyone you can think of, including a lot of the biggest names in music right now, have published cover versions of songs, helping to generate clicks, likes, and shares for themselves. Many emerging artists have gained popularity over large bodies of work, built off of cover songs and Facebook’s aggressive removal of such content is a major issue not only to these artists but others as well.
So why is Facebook continuing to take down music? Well.. the main reason is because Facebook does not pay any sort of advertising revenues to rights-owners of music consumed on its platform. Compare this to YouTube where there is such licensing agreements in place with music publishing groups, allowing these groups to collect revenues attached to videos using borrowed, cover songs.
If an artist is not able to build their social media profile on Facebook via the use of covers, this cuts down on a major marketing initiative that has proven to be so successful for so many artists. It is increasingly vital that agreements come in place between Facebook and music publishers, or else artists are going to be encouraged to go elsewhere.
What should you do as an independent record label or an independent artist building a brand? Be careful. No one wants to see their Facebook account temporarily suspended or banned. If you put up a cover and it gets taken down, don’t invest time in continuing to put them up.
Pivot the same brand building video-based strategy to YouTube where it is safe to put up music and where you won’t get the same hassle about it. On top of that, continue to cross-promote between platforms.
As a hub, Facebook can be used for many amazing things and as they continue to roll out the video aspect of their site, perhaps there will come the opportunity to pursue more video-based brand building. There’s no harm in trying it right now. Be aware though that issues may become present.
It will be interesting to see how this issue develops not only in Canada but internationally as well. Continue to use Facebook to get in touch with fans, for promoting shows, and for connecting with people on a personal basis.