Creators like to use music in all kinds of projects, but doing so can often put them at risk of running afoul of record labels. That issue has plagued user-generated streaming platforms for years. YouTube and Facebook both have continuously updated libraries of royalty-free content, but that hasn't assuaged content creators who desperately want to play games along to their favorite jams. There has also been a history of YouTube taking down videos where creators are absent-mindedly (and often badly) singing bits and pieces of popular songs.
In an unexpected blog post, Facebook's Global Director of Games Partnerships Leo Olebe announced how its new music program will work. Facebook lists a number of partners from which they will license music, including Universal, Warner, Sony, and BMG Publishing. That means that Facebook Gaming partners will soon be able to play music from Billy Joel, David Bowie, Pink, Zendaya, and many more in the background of their streams. This feature will first make its way to Level Up creators, and then to all creators on the platform. Until then, non-partners will have to be content with using Facebook Sound Collection for royalty-free music. While the list of artists and songs represented by the record labels is gigantic, it is unclear which artists and songs will be cleared for use, and playing unauthorized music will still result in a video being blocked.
"Rights for music are complex; they vary based on territory and are subject to change. The specifics of our licensing agreements are also confidential, so we’re unable to disclose which songs are not covered."
In the beginning, it will be a bit of a guessing game to see if playing a specific song could earn creators a takedown notice or not. The licenses Facebook has secured will cover more than 90 countries, so they will work for people streaming internationally. There are some limits to the type of content that licensed music can be used in. Music has to be in the background and can't be the focus of the stream, so no DJ streams are allowed. Music is also only meant for streams or recordings of streams, not for longer edited videos.
This added feature will give Facebook an edge over Twitch when it comes to drawing in streamers. While Twitch has been in the streaming game a lot longer, it makes plenty of decisions that aren't popular with users, and the new policy from Facebook Gaming certainly looks like one that will get it on streamers' good sides. Especially as this feature rolls out to every streamer on the platform, there should be an increase in new streamers giving Facebook Gaming another look.