Since lockdown began in March last year, artists are hosting live streams across online platforms to maintain their connection to fans – and while attending live performances isn’t an option, live streaming has become an effective means for artists to promote their new music releases.
Commercial use of a sound recording, paired with video, usually requires a synchronisation license to clear both the master and publishing rights. If artists are intending to use their own or other artists’ recorded music within their live streams, there are some issues surrounding copyright that could prevent a live streaming event from running smoothly for artists and fans alike. The following guide outlines the steps artists and labels can take before hosting a live streaming event, to prevent any potential problems that could interrupt or even end an event earlier than intended.
On your YouTube channel…
All live streams on YouTube are scanned for matches to YouTube’s Content ID system and this includes copyrighted content that has been included in another live broadcast.
If recorded music has been commercially released, it is likely it will have been uploaded by a music distributor and publisher(s) to YouTube Content ID’s database. Doing so ensures that rightsholders, usually labels or even self-releasing artists and sometimes also music publishers, can earn advertising and subscription revenue from Content ID matching their copyrights to videos that are appearing on the platform. Content ID helps rightsholders to claim the revenue that is rightfully theirs from official content like music videos that can be uploaded by the artists or labels themselves, as well as user generated content (UGC) that incorporate copyrighted sound recordings.
When copyrighted sound recordings are identified by Content ID in a live stream on YouTube, a placeholder image may replace the live stream. Before this happens, a warning to stop streaming the protected content will appear and if you comply with this warning, your stream can continue. If the copyrighted sound recordings remain in your stream, your live stream will be temporarily interrupted or terminated.
Even if you’re intending to stream your own sound recordings, if the rights to your recordings are being administered on YouTube Content ID by a music distributor like Absolute and if your channel is not partnered to the distributor’s YouTube partner network, then you will need to get in touch with your label or with Absolute to request that your channel is temporarily added to the YouTube CMS allow list to prevent any copyright issues from impacting upon your use of recordings in your live stream.
If you’re planning to use sound recordings from other artists and record labels in your live stream, you likely need to provide proof of a license of some kind from the rightsholders before requesting your YouTube channel is added to the YouTube CMS allow list of the music distributor that is administrating the copyright recordings you’re intending to use. This may or may not be Absolute, so you might have to do some detective work to find out who you need to arrange this with before your event.
If your channel isn’t added to the correct allow list(s) prior to your event, your live stream can be interrupted even if you’ve gone to the trouble of obtaining a license from the rightsholder(s).
On your Facebook page…
Facebook only licenses copyrighted sound recordings for UGC use on the platform and ensures music content is only being used in UGC videos uploaded by matching recordings in videos uploaded to personal Facebook profiles and business pages.
For example, if you post a video of your cat to your personal Facebook profile with a sound recording that is protected by copyright playing in the background, you shouldn’t experience the audio in your video being blocked or muted.
If, however, you upload the same video to your band, artist or label Facebook business page without the appropriate licensing permissions from the owner of the copyrights as well as ensuring your Facebook page is whitelisted by administrators of the copyrights before posting the video to your business page, your video’s audio might be muted.
Before you live stream your event on YouTube or Facebook, get the necessary permissions from rightsholders and make sure your YouTube channel is added to the appropriate YouTube allow list(s). If you’re also planning to broadcast your event on your Facebook page, make sure your page is whitelisted by the correct music distribution partner(s) ahead of your event too.