The New #Facebook Music Copyright Rules 2020 and what it means to your #livestream of #covertunes.

A lot of questions have arisen out of the new rules kicking in for music content publishers on Facebook. There has been lots of buzz about “new rules” reportedly kicking in on October 1st. While I am convinced that this is mostly bad news for online DJs, I suspect people who perform/livestream cover tunes are fairly safe.

To understand this whole thing, we need to understand a little of the basics of how artists/composers get paid for their music. And for that, we have to peel back a page to a little corner in our legal system: copyright law.

More specifically, music publishing and distribution. Let’s use an example of one of my favorite Yacht Rocker’s, Michael McDonald.

Michael wrote “I Keep Forgettin” and released it on his debut solo album in 1982. Michael wrote it and owns the music copyright (aka “Publishing Rights”) on it (there are co-writers who also have co-credits). Mike wants to sell lots of copies of his new record but has no technical expertise to even produce an album, let alone design packaging, print thousands of copies and get them distributed around the world…and also tour and do radio and television appearances and interviews. So he partners with a record company…in this case he chose Warner Bros. as his record “label”.

In that agreement, the one between Mike and WB, Mike retained his Publishing Rights of the song lyrics and the music notes, but Warner Bros. now owns some limited rights to sell and relicense that particular recording of that particular song. And for that, they paid Mike, and also paid for all the other marketing/distribution/touring things. They sell copies of this recording, historically on vinyl or CDs, more recently through streaming services like Spotify or Pandora. They also give free copies to radio stations in hopes that they’ll play it on the air, generating more interest in purchasing the album or buying tickets to a show.

In the olden days, if you were to hear “Keep Forgettin’” on the radio, the radio station keeps a log of all music it plays and also reports the size of its audience. Based on this, Mike gets paid through one of the “Publishing Rights Organizations” (PRO), usually ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. They collect the money on behalf of songwriters and make sure Mike gets his fair cut.

If you heard Mike’s raspy yet somehow beautiful voice on a juke box or over piped-in music, the bar or pool hall or restaurant/coffeehouse pays the PROs based on the capacity of their venue.

If you heard it in a movie or a television show, you’d be damn certain both Mike and WB got paid. Film and television producers have whole departments dedicated to getting all kinds of copyright clearances. If there is a brand, logo, clip, image, sound effect, music lyric, or song, you can bet it is heavily vetted prior to release to make sure they have paid for the proper mechanical or sync licenses, plus the publishing license. But if you’re not hearing the WB version of the song (let’s say it’s an acoustic version played by an unknown musician), WB doesn’t get paid. But Mike still does because he still owns the publishing rights to his work.

If you wanted to take a sample from the WB recording, as Warren G most famously did when he released “Regulate” in 1994, (Regulate, incidentally released on the Death Row Label…also owned by WB), you can bet one part of WB paid the other part :).

But, what happens if you’re a guitar player or a piano player who plays songs like “Brown-Eyed Girl” “Sweet Caroline” or really sweet mashup of “Regulate” and “Keep Forgettin”?

Historically this “performance fee” of copyrighted music is covered by the venue/bar/restaurant under a blanket performance license. ASCAP/BMI have regional scouts that do nothing else but go into venues and listen for live music being performed. If they hear it, they’ll approach the owners to bring them into compliance or face heavy fines and lawsuits. Most places comply rather quickly. Those that don’t or can’t just stop offering live music. If they are playing Spotify or Pandora, you can bet they are paying for the “Business” versions of those streaming services.

Enter 2020 and livestreaming becomes THE thing. No one is going to bars/clubs/restaurants so DJ’s and live musicians take to Facebook, Youtube, Twitch and other streaming platforms to entertain and possibly make some income collecting tips digitally.

Twitch is owned by Amazon. YouTube is owned by Google. And Facebook owns Facebook Live and Instagram. These sites are where the vast majority of livestreams are happening. DJs are streaming multi-hour-long dance sets, piano players are streaming all-request piano shows and tons of people are hosting mini streaming concerts for their family and friends…and possibly picking up some new fans along the way.

Superstars are doing it and solo artists are doing it. People with thousands of fans and people with dozens. So what is changing?

Well here is what everyone’s talking about right now: Facebook/Instagram Music guidelines that are widely rumored to be going into effect on October 1st 2020 .

Music Guidelines
These supplemental terms apply if you post or share any videos or other content containing music on any Facebook Products.

You are responsible for the content you post
People use our Products to share content with their family and friends. Keep in mind you remain solely responsible for the content that you post, including any music that features in that content. Nothing in these terms constitutes any authorization by us with respect to any use of music on any of our Products.

Use of music for commercial or non-personal purposes in particular is prohibited unless you have obtained appropriate licenses.

You may not use videos on our Products to create a music listening experience
We want you to be able to enjoy videos posted by family and friends. However, if you use videos on our Products to create a music listening experience for yourself or for others, your videos will be blocked and your page, profile or group may be deleted. This includes Live. 

Unauthorized content may be removed
If you post content that contains music owned by someone else, your content may be blocked, or may be reviewed by the applicable rights owner and removed if your use of that music is not properly authorized.

You may not be able to post or access videos containing music in every country of the world
We want you to be able to share videos with your family and friends wherever they are, but any music in your video, if it is allowed at all, may not be available in all countries of the world.

This news has reasonably freaked out quite a few livestreamers. How this got tied to October 1st is a little sketchy. These music guidelines have already been in place.

The confusion seems to stem from a Facebook Terms of Service update that IS becoming effective on October 1st, but that update only affects one section (3.2) and is not specifically about music and livestreams. The NEW Facebook TOS can be previewed here: Facebook Oct 1st TOS Updated Terms.

Old Language:

We can remove or restrict access to content that is in violation of these provisions.

New (additional) Language:

We also can remove or restrict access to your content, services or information if we determine that doing so is reasonably necessary to avoid or mitigate adverse legal or regulatory impacts to Facebook.

That’s it. No other changes.

Furthermore, here’s what Facebook posted originally back in May, but updated on September 11th 2020:

Our partnerships with rights holders have brought people together around music on our platforms. As part of our licensing agreements, there are limitations around the amount of recorded music that can be included in Live broadcasts or videos. While the specifics of our licensing agreements are confidential, today we’re sharing some general guidelines to help you plan your videos better:

Music in stories and traditional live music performances (e.g., filming an artist or band performing live) are permitted.

The greater the number of full-length recorded tracks in a video, the more likely it may be limited (more below on what we mean by “limited”).
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.

That Full Blog Post is here:

To me, this means that Facebook is covering the fees for the PROs and has blanket agreements to make sure that if you play a really SMOOTH cover of “Keep Forgettin'”, Michael McDonald is gonna get his piece of the action. I wouldn’t worry…at least not anytime soon.

BUT, if you’re spinning Yacht Rock tunes and you are playing MOSTLY Michael McDonald’s records…WB wants their cut. And WB don’t play. And hence Facebook’s new language covering their ass if you livestream copyrighted songs as a “listening experience” the listening bots are going to sniff you out and shut your stream down.

Anyone who has ever tried to do a lip sync to Mr. Roboto livestreaming knows…they shut that down pretty fast. Those bots are good.

So hopefully this will ease the mind of my fellow livestream performers. It’s not the end of livestreaming. It’s just another day. Keep streaming alive! (And Smooth)

The Marmite

Back when I was living in the Villa in San Francisco, I had two British flatmates who drank English tea every morning. I very much enjoyed it when they’d offer me a “spot-o-tea” as my Irish grandmother brewed tea daily as well. Along with their tea they often ate toast. But they didn’t put butter on their toast, they put on it a brown paste that came from a jar called “Marmite”.

Curious, one morning I tried some on my toast. It looked like Nutella and I was expecting a sweet chocolate or peanut buttery taste…. however… well, I think Amanda Fucking Palmer puts it best (Vegemite is even more evil than Marmite)

Post-Transplant thoughts #mycousindave

My cousin Dave and I email frequently. Usually sending each other random Seinfeld trivia questions, discussing recent movies or television shows, or music. He was the first one to really introduce me to the Beatles when I was about 10. He put late-1970’s giant headphones on me and put on “Revolution 9” from the White Album and he and his brother went in the corner and giggled as my 10-year-old brain was exposed to an onslaught of the trippiest weirdest Beatles song ever recorded.

Dave hit me, rather out of the blue, with a somewhat serious question about my recent experience of getting a liver transplant and the months leading up to it. Here’s my response (please feel free to listen to Revolution 9 while you read…it’s a fairly good audio accompaniment to how I felt during the crazy of the last year.

Cousin Dave: “In all your dealings with the Liver situation John, What period was THE MOST painful of the entire ordeal so far?”

Physically painful?  Definitely the first time trying to stand up out of bed post surgery. They made me do that on day 2. It took two nurses plus my sister Cara to get me on my feet. It HURT. My entire core, many of the muscles in my abdomen had been severed. After standing for a minute, I was spent. The post-surgery pain was significant and I was on pain medications for a couple weeks post-surgery.

Getting pumped with lots of stuff!

Pre-surgery the worst physical pain were the paracentesis/thoracentesis procedures, where they poked a needle into my abdomen or my upper back and sucked out extra fluid that had built up. Those were not fun and had many gallons of excess fluid drained over the course of many months.

In the ICU after my first episode of hepatic encephalopathy

But more than the physical pain, I’d say the metal pain was much more difficult. Dealing with the daily roller coaster of emotions of my mortality, dealing with the ups and downs of my health…one day I could be fine and then a few hours later be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. The frustration of feeling helpless and hopeless, that I couldn’t trust my own brain to tell me when I was not thinking clearly (I feel like I can empathize with people suffering with Alzheimer’s much more now) but mostly the burden of the fear and pain I knew my family and friends were going through. All of that weighed heavily and still does.

Cousin Dave: And also, What period was THE Most Joyful of the whole thing?

How how so many people reached out, even people I barely knew who would tell me how I had made an impression on them. Like one girl I was facebook friends with (who I honestly don’t remember meeting), told me that she met me in a bar and we started chatting and I mentioned I played piano. And she said she had always wanted to play but never learned and she regretted that. I told her that it’s never too late to learn. And apparently she got home and started taking lessons and thanked me. You never know how little things you do and say can affect other people’s lives.

Or another girl name Gabriella, again a Facebook acquaintance, who had read when I posted that I was afraid I was going to miss a show. I had tickets to see Patton Oswalt at the Hard Rock live but I was still in the hospital the morning of the show. Thanks to the hustle of a very caring and resourceful nurse, she wrangled all my doctors on the phone on a Saturday and was able to get me discharged, but I didn’t have a chance to post until after the show that I made it just in time. After I got home I had a message from Patton Oswalt himself in my inbox because Gabriella had messaged him a told him I was sick.

There were so many moments like that, like the Patton Oswalt video, friends sending me funny messages or videos, everyone coming to a dinner at my favorite restaurant…like the week before the Covid lockdown began…the many friends who visited me, brought me groceries or tasty home cooked meals.

And I cherish how much closer I have gotten with my family who were all there the whole time. I had really come to grips that this might be the end and so I began to cherish every moment and opportunity that I had with every friend and loved one I could. I made amends with many former friends, forged new ones, I found a newly optimistic outlook on life. I really feel like I almost got to
experience my own funeral in many ways, and now I get a whole second chance at life.

Cousin Dave: Was that photo actually you at Doc’s\Transplant Place today?

Yes, that is a selfie I took in the waiting room of my transplant clinic this morning. Received all thumbs up from my doctor. Reduced more of my meds and it was my last visit with my transplant surgeon. Next visit I go back to my pre-transplant doctor.

Orange County #Florida ICU Bed Data 7/20/2020 #covid19 #orlando #orangecountyfl

ICU Bed Capacity across Orange County has increased since 7/8, but so have the number of occupied beds.

Orange County FL Adult ICU Hospital Data 7/8 – 7/20
Orange County FL Pediatric ICU Hospital Data 7/8 – 7/20

Data Source: Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration Hospital Bed Census Data

Living in Fear of COVID-19

Am I afraid? Yes.

I’ll admit it…I do live in fear. But I don’t think it’s the same kind fear as what the anti-mask crowd is calling “living in fear.”

I am afraid that if anyone I love or care about falls ill because of COVID-19 (or any highly communicable disease for that manner), that I won’t be able to be with them when they need comfort the most.

Having spent more time than I imagined in a hospital from March-May while waiting for a life-saving liver transplant, I know all too well how much having visitors helped keep my spirits up. Social media certainly helps, but there is nothing like being able to hold someone’s hand or hug them or just simply watch a movie together. To have someone bring me a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake or a Smoothie, drop off some comic books, some Twizzlers, Dinner from Maxines’s, play some guitar for me…anything from the outside world… helped.

The sterile environment of a hospital room can be a very lonely place.

And it’s a very scary place, especially because you’re there because you’re sick and not because you want to be. And despite having the best care and the most wonderful doctors and nurses, they can’t replace your friends and family.

When I first went to the hospital there were no limitations to who could visit me or even when. If someone didn’t get off work until 2am they could come see me in the middle of the night. I could have 4 people visit at the same time…the only limit was how many people could fit in the room and how many I had the energy for in any given day.

But as Covid-19 appeared, restrictions started happening. Visiting hours became limited as did the number of visitors. At one point it came down to one approved visitor per day and so I literally had to choose. But at least I still had a choice.

COVID patients don’t even have that luxury. They are prevented from having ANY visitors. Their interactions are limited to FaceTime or Zoom meetings or maybe a live visit through a glass window. They are at possibly the most vulnerable, helpless time of their life…possibly the end…and yet can not even find a tiny bit of comfort from the presence of the people they love.

That’s my fear. And any time I hear someone who mocks that fear by saying that we are acting out of “media-induced fear-mongering” or that “Covid is a hoax” or anything like that it just makes me sad. Because I know that they must not have ever experienced true loss or felt love. Theirs is a much more deep-rooted fear that I don’t and will never fully understand. Wear a damn mask!

The 30-Rock Reunion Show and Launch of Peacock

Watched the 30-Rock last reunion special on NBC/Universal’s new streaming platform, Peacock. I was a huge fan of the original 30 Rock show, but the final season certainly wasn’t the best. The characters increasingly became a caricature of themselves which ultimately allowed for lazy writing because they all just had to act as we, the audience, expected and it was, well, just fine.

This tends to happen with all sitcoms and why they eventually fall out of favor… actors age, grow weary of playing the same role, writers struggle to come up with new wacky situations, and eventually (and hopefully) the show comes to a natural and graceful conclusion sometime between seasons 5 and 10.

It makes sense that Peacock would launch the free version of their streaming service with a 30-Rock reunion show as the show is perfectly set in a quasi-reality universe of NBC television. It is a sitcom about a variety show which airs on NBC but has fictional NBC executives, some real actors and some actors playing roles as actors on the show. Confused? It can be confusing but generally you just have to roll with it.

The reunion is essentially one big Peacock promotion, and is self-aware that it is exactly that. Fictional Head of NBC is now Kenneth Parcel, a role he assumed in the final season of the show. TGS has been off the air for years and the story involves Jack and Liz roping the TGS cast and crew back together to pitch a TGS reboot.

Filmed in the age of COVID-19, she show was entirely shot “at home” with each actor utilizing their own homes and household members as crew. While it’s quite obvious that no one is ever in the same room together (except for Lutz and Sue, who are married in the default world), they obscure this with the fact that most of the show is telephone and video calls. I can’t even imagine the Herculean effort the editing team must have put forward to piece this thing together.

So how is it? It’s fine. It’s not tremendously funny but it is satisfying in a the way that you feel after eating a delicious meal with old friends. These are the same characters you have known an loved for many years and it’s a fitting reunion and hits all the checkboxes you want.

In the mix of the show, you see a lot of marketing for other shows in the Peacock Lineup, some look interesting, A new series based on Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World looks interesting. And there are new comedies starring David Schwimmer and Ted Danson which look promising.

23andMe Data Suggests Blood Type a Factor for COVID-19

The DNA testing company 23 and Me has been using their massive data sets to assist scientists with analysis in how COVID-19 spreads and if genetic factors play a role in determining how likely someone is to get infected and how severe the infection will be.

While not definitive, some of their early data seems to confirm that blood type may be a factor in transmission and immunity.

“In percentages, in the entire population, individuals with blood group O were 9-18% less likely to test positive when compared to other groups. “Exposed” individuals with blood group O were 13-26% less likely to test positive.”

Read more: Large Study Suggests Blood Type O May Be a Protective Factor Against COVID-19

Orange County #Florida ICU Bed Data 7/8/2020 #covid19 #orlando

Here are the latest numbers for ICU Hospital Beds in Orange County, Florida as of 7/8/2020.

Orange County Hospital Data 7/8/2020Adult ICU CensusAvailable Adult ICUAvailable Adult ICU%Total Adult ICU CapacityPediatric ICU CensusAvailable Pediatric ICUAvailable Pediatric ICU%Total Pediatric ICU Capacity
ADVENTHEALTH ORLANDO1464523.56%191262650.00%52
ORLANDO HEALTH – ORMC6500.00%65000
Image of Data

Here’s to one year of Sobriety!

Remember that year when you quit drinking, went to Burning Man, was diagnosed with end-stage liver disease, spent months in and out of the hospital, saw Australia burn, the President get impeached, watched a global pandemic kill more than 400,000 people, giant locus swarms in Africa, survived a liver transplant operation, Saharan dust clouds, protests, civil unrest, riots and violence in cities around the globe, and Kanye West announced he was running for President with support from the guy who both designed your car and helped return America to manned Spaceflight? Here’s to one year of sobriety!