What You Should Know About Using Music in Your Live Streams

Whether you are live streaming video or audio on social media you must ensure that you have rights to the music or permission to use the music you will include inside your video. Lucky, my husband and Business Developer at Cafe and Laptop,  creates custom tracks for the company to use when we want to spice up our live streams! But for those of you who aren’t musically inclined or don’t have access to your own custom music then you’ll want to keep reading before you hit that live button:

According to switchersstudio.com, if you don’t have rights to the music that you are using then Facebook (or whatever social media platform you are using) is liable and therefore they take the threat of copyright infringement very seriously.

If you’ve ever had an uploaded video flagged by Facebook then you know this firsthand. The same applies to live video streaming so when going live, be mindful of any music that you have playing in the background or if streaming near an event or performance in which music may be captured during your live stream. Basically, a location may have rights to play the music but that wouldn't extend to broadcasting and Facebook Live Streaming (as well as other "live streaming" platforms) falls under “broadcasting”.


An easy fix for this, is using royalty free music while live streaming. Simply put, Royalty Free Music refers to a type of music license that allows the purchaser of the music to pay for the music once and use it as long as they want. 

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Use of Music on Youtube

According to YouTube, all live broadcasts on their platform are scanned for third party content. When third party content is identified, a placeholder image may replace your live broadcast until their system no longer detects third party content. In some cases, YouTube may terminate your live broadcast. Live streams and Hangouts on Air can also be terminated if they receive a copyright strike or a Community Guidelines strike.

If your live stream or Hangout on Air stops, the quickest way to confirm whether you have received either type of strike is to check your Account Status and Features.
(Source: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/3367684?hl=en)

According to a post by Mitch Jackson (California Trial Lawyer) on medium.com, if you didn’t create the content (including reading a book, blog post, or playing music in the background), don’t use it without the written permission of the owner or person with legal use rights.
(Source: https://medium.com/@mitchjackson/facebook-live-audio-copyright-issues-things-you-need-to-know-56dbf2c9aa6d)

Here are a few questions along with answers from a blog post on tubularinsights.com that you may find useful when preparing to do a live video that will contain music:

Why do I need permission to use someone else’s music in my video?
You need to obtain permission to use someone else’s music in your video because they are the copyright holder of that content. Using music without permission is illegal and could result in legal action. As such, having permission not only protects you from lawsuits but enables you to use it now and into the future.
(Source: http://tubularinsights.com/copyrighted-music-youtube)

Do I really need a license for music if I only want to make my video available on YouTube?
Absolutely. YouTube is no different to TV, movies, radio or other media outlet. You are creating video content, posting it publicly and hoping an audience views it.
(Source: http://tubularinsights.com/copyrighted-music-youtube)

If I use music in my videos can the owner of the music claim royalties or block music used in my video on YouTube?
Presuming that you DO NOT have permission to use the music, yes they can. There are two common punishments through the ContentID system. The owner can monetize the video and take a part or all the money that the video makes. Alternatively, the music can be muted by the owner. To avoid this, you need to get permission to use the music.
(Source: http://tubularinsights.com/copyrighted-music-youtube)

Using SoundCloud or extensions that use SoundCloud for your live streams?

Here’s another article that you’ll want to draw your attention to so that you’re aware of the guidelines with using this music software: https://medium.com/pretzelrocks/lets-take-a-minute-to-talk-about-music-for-live-streaming-77b15c1f67f6

In conclusion, if you’re not sure about using a certain piece of music in your live stream then it’s better to be safe than sorry (later) and not use it at all. The common misconception that you can use copy written music for up to 30 seconds without permission - is FALSE.  Seeking legal council is a worthwhile investment to ensure you are properly following the terms and conditions on the social media platforms you are using to market your business.