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: https://www.facebook.com/facebookmedia/blog/updates-and-guidelines-for-including-music-in-video

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)

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.

The end of “Love”? #cirquedusoleil #beatles

It was sad to hear the news today that one of the victims of the Covid-19 virus is Cirque Du Soleil as they declared bankruptcy and laid off thousands of workers. All of their shows have ceased operations due to the virus and the company incurred massive amounts of debt. Hopefully the company will be able to restructure and resume operations of some of its shows but with the recent resurgence of the Virus in the United States, it doesn’t look like they’ll be resuming productions anytime soon. Which very well could spell the end of my favorite Cirque show, the Beatles masterpiece, “Love”.

I’ve seen Love a total of three times and every time am blown away. The Love Soundtrack alone is mind-blowing for any Beatles Fan. To create the show’s lush soundscape, producers Sir George Martin (RIP) and his son, Giles, worked at Abbey Road Studios with the entire archive of Beatles master recordings.

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The Beatles LOVE

1. Because (LOVE Version)

2. Get Back (LOVE Version)

3. Glass Onion (LOVE Version)

4. Eleanor Rigby/Julia (LOVE Version)

5. I Am The Walrus (LOVE Version)

6. I Want To Hold Your Hand (LOVE Version)

7. Drive My Car/The Word/What You’re Doing (LOVE Version)

8. Gnik Nus (LOVE Version)

9. Something/Blue Jay Way (LOVE Version)

10. Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!/I Want You (She’s So Heavy)/Helter Skelter (LOVE Version)

11. Help! (LOVE Version)

12. Blackbird/Yesterday (LOVE Version)

13. Strawberry Fields Forever (LOVE Version)

14. Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows (LOVE Version)

15. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (LOVE Version)

16. Octopus’s Garden (LOVE Version)

17. Lady Madonna (LOVE Version)

18. Here Comes The Sun/The Inner Light (LOVE Version)

19. Come Together/Dear Prudence/Cry Baby Cry (LOVE Version)

20. Revolution (LOVE Version)

21. Back In The U.S.S.R. (LOVE Version)

22. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (LOVE Version)

23. A Day In The Life (LOVE Version)

24. Hey Jude (LOVE Version)

25. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) (LOVE Version)

26. All You Need Is Love (LOVE Version)

27. Girl (Bonus)

28. Fool On The Hill (Bonus)

My Cousin Dave’s Guide to Why Your Stupid Smart TV Sounds Damn Crappy #mycousindave

My Cousin Dave recently sent me an email:

Cousin Dave

Why does the sound on everything stink today? TV’s, Tablets, computers, cells.
(Corporate greed! Oh, buy this special sound component.) My Stupid Samsung Smart TV, brand new, on 100, the highest it goes,
is just audible on some channels.
And my hearing is perfectly normal.

Well, Dave, there are several factors. But it basically boils down to two: audio compression and format.

Almost all recorded audio today is compressed. CD-quality was established as an audio standard when CDs were first released. The quality is crystal clear and typically mixed to be presented as stereo sound with 2 channels (Left and Right). The problem is that the data files are really big and you can only fit about 80 minutes of music or 700mb. That’s about 35mb for a 3 minute song.

Then the Internet became a thing and people very quickly realized that downloading a song took FOREVER. So one guy said, hey, since humans can’t really hear EVERY frequency why don’t we remove some of that “extra data”? And so he set to chopping out the bits (compressing) HE deemed weren’t important. So now we have a whole generation of kids that only grew up hearing compressed audio (MP3’s) and don’t know any better.

This same compressed audio is used in streaming movies and television today because of the same logic. Some stations and streaming platforms compress the fuck out of the audio and/or picture. The only way to get really really good quality picture and sound is to buy the Blu-Ray versions and play them on a really good home theater system.

That’s the first thing: compression. The second thing is audio format.

Unless you have your smart TV connected to a fancy home theater audio system, you’re likely hearing plain old (compressed) stereo sound. If the source of that audio was originally mixed for stereo, it probably sounds fine. But if it was mixed for more than 2 speakers… such as Dolby 5.1 Surround, you are likely not hearing some of the mix.

5.1 refers to the number of speakers that an audio track is mixed to. In a typical 5.1 set up you would have Front L and R, Front Center, Side L and R, and a subwoofer. The Front Center would typically have the majority of dialogue where the sides and subwoofer would have music/Sfx and so on. This is how they create that “surround sound”.

The problem is, if you don’t have that center speaker, you’re probably missing much of the dialog audio. Most smart TVs attempt to compensate for this with some audio trickery but it is inconsistent because there are so many different ways the original audio can be formatted. It’s like if someone were to listen to early Beatles with all the treble down and all the bass up…it would totally sound fucked up.

Your smart TV likely has a few different audio settings (check your manual or look at your remote). You may try switching to a different format that sounds better to you for whatever you are watching at the time. Or you can start investing in a home theater system and spend thousands of dollars and thousands of hours learning the finer points of audio engineering.

Or just get some damn headphones ya deaf bastard!

Enjoyed #Devs on #Hulu? Yes..but is it real?

I recently watched the FX-produced “limited series” Devs on Hulu. It stars Nick Offerman (aka Ron Swanson from “Parks & Recreation“) as the “mad genius” and Sonoya Mizuno as the protagonist trying to uncover the secret behind her boyfriend’s sudden and inexplicable disappearance. I might add that Sonoya Mizuno may very well be my new favorite actress. If you’re not familiar with her work, watch this: The Rise of Sonoya Mizuno

The roughly 8 hour show (broken into 8 segments) is the brainchild of writer/director Alex Garland, who also wrote and directed Annihilation and Ex-Machina and wrote 28 Days Later. Garland has been on my radar for several years and has brought some of the most intriguing science fiction to both the big and little screens in recent years. Here’s what I wrote on Facebook after seeing Annihilation a couple years ago:

After being a little late to the game on Devs, and despite the fact that I had seen the name pop up as recommended by several friends…I never went digging enough to find it. I saw it once on Apple TV+ but it wanted me to buy it…then I realized it was on Hulu for free! So I binged all 8 episodes in about 2 Covid quarantine days.

The story goes like this: A russian-born software security developer working for a Silicon Valley tech giant gets recruited by the company’s Founder/CEO, Forest (Offerman), to join an elite team within the company called “Devs”. Shortly after he joins Devs, he disappears and his girlfriend, Lily (Mizuno) suspects foul play, leading her on a journey that weaves international espionage, high-tech, quantum computing, determinism and the concept of a multiverse.

Lily and Forest in Devs

The Multiverse theory is a very real theory that has its roots in ancient Greek philosophy and basically postulates the multiverse is a hypothetical group of multiple universes. Together, these universes comprise everything that exists: the entirety of spacetimematterenergyinformation, and the physical laws and constants that describe them. The different universes within the multiverse are called “parallel universes,” “other universes,” “alternate universes,” or “many worlds.”. The ideas of a Multiverse have been debated by physicists and philosophers alike, and has been the subject of many modern science fiction works, including the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Trek, Family Guy, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Chronicles of Narnia…and many, many more.

In Devs, the multiverse is explored as a predictive tool. If every action has a cause, say you drop a pen, the pen will fall to the floor. It’s predictable and quantifiable. Devs takes it a step further by saying that if the pen is already on the floor, you can calculate how it got there, essentially peering back in time to the initial drop. Once you can visualize it being dropped, in theory, you can continue predicting backwards (and forwards) further and further, using massive computing power to predict all possible scenarios and accurately visualize the most likely outcomes.

It very quickly gets sticky and mired in the ethics of this technology…and the concepts of “free will”, determinism and quantum physics are all blended nicely in the Devs Universe. Forest is driven to build this technology due to a great loss he suffered and hopes to use it to recapture what he lost. Lily works for the same company and uncovers the mystery of her boyfriend’s disappearance and the truth behind Devs but begins to question her own thoughts and reality along the way.

Trailer for Devs

The series is visually stunning, filled with religious imagery and themes of death and rebirth. The Devs soundtrack is fantastic as well, with one notable episode starting and ending with a song called Congregation by Low. Every episode starts and ends with a unique song. It’s quite a fun watch, and I highly recommend it. But…could it happen for real??? Some physicists say perhaps.

Excerpts from the article “Physicists Have Reversed Time on The Smallest Scale Using a Quantum Computer

“It’s easy to take time’s arrow for granted – but the gears of physics actually work just as smoothly in reverse. Maybe that time machine is possible after all?

“An experiment from 2019 shows just how much wiggle room we can expect when it comes to distinguishing the past from the future, at least on a quantum scale. It might not allow us to relive the 1960s, but it could help us better understand why not.”

“The second law of thermodynamics is less a hard rule and more of a guiding principle for the Universe. It says hot things get colder over time as energy transforms and spreads out from areas where it’s most intense.

“It’s a principle that explains why your coffee won’t stay hot in a cold room, why it’s easier to scramble an egg than unscramble it, and why nobody will ever let you patent a perpetual motion machine.

“It’s also the closest we can get to a rule that tells us why we can remember what we had for dinner last night, but have no memory of next Christmas.

“That law is closely related to the notion of the arrow of time that posits the one-way direction of time from the past to the future,” said quantum physicist Gordey Lesovik from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.

“Virtually every other rule in physics can be flipped and still make sense. For example, you could zoom in on a game of pool, and a single collision between any two balls won’t look weird if you happened to see it in reverse.

“On the other hand, if you watched balls roll out of pockets and reform the starting pyramid, it would be a sobering experience. That’s the second law at work for you.

“On the macro scale of omelettes and games of pool, we shouldn’t expect a lot of give in the laws of thermodynamics. But as we focus in on the tiny gears of reality – in this case, solitary electrons – loopholes appear.

“Electrons aren’t like tiny billiard balls, they’re more akin to information that occupies a space. Their details are defined by something called the Schrödinger equation, which represents the possibilities of an electron’s characteristics as a wave of chance.

Read more here: Physicists Have Reversed Time on The Smallest Scale Using a Quantum Computer