Facebook and Instagram Live have seen a recent surge in usage, as DJs, musicians, celebrities, influencers and communities seek to virtually connect while socially distancing.  With this surge has come increased confusion over the use of recorded music on both Facebook and Instagram, and whether including music in a stream would violate the law or cause technical issues. Paper Magazine even went so far as to claim:  "Copyright Claims Are Ruining Live Streams for Everyone." 

In response, Facebook published guidelines this week on including music in a Facebook or Instagram Live feed, which confirm that there are indeed limitations around the amount of recorded music that can be included due to the platform's agreements with rights holders. 

The guidelines cover live and recorded video on both Facebook and Instagram, and for all types of accounts — i.e. pages, profiles, verified and unverified accounts. (Remember, however, that there are limits to use of music on the platforms by businesses accounts.)  Highlights include the following:

  • There are no limits on things like music in Stories, or traditional musical performances (e.g. filming a live artist or band performing).
  • The greater the number of full-length recorded tracks, the more likely it may be limited (e.g. a stream may be interrupted, parts of your video could be muted, or it could be removed entirely).
  • Shorter clips of music are recommended.
  • There should always be a visual component to your video; recorded audio should not be the primary purpose of the video.
  •  Although music is launched on the platforms in more than 90 countries, there are places where it is not yet available, so if your video includes recorded music, it may not be available for use in those locations.  
  • People also have access to a library of custom music and sound effects at no cost using Facebook’s Sound Collection, which includes thousands of tracks available to use on Facebook and Instagram without any limits – spanning genres like hip hop, pop, jazz, country, and more. 
  • There will now be in-product notifications intended to alert users when the platform's systems detect that a broadcast or uploaded video may include music in a way that doesn’t adhere to the platform's licensing agreements, giving people time to adjust and avoid interruptions.