Copyright and DJ live streams, where do we start!
Thanks to Covid 19, many of us DJs are sitting at home not knowing when our next event or gig will come our way. If that sounds like you, there’s a good chance you’ve either performed a live-streamed DJ Set or thought about doing so; and there’s an even better chance you’ve tuned in to at least one other DJ stream yourself!
In saying that, you’ve likely also watched helplessly as either yours or another DJ live stream has been taken down due to copyright. Particularly if you’ve been streaming on a platform such as Facebook Live or Instagram.
But is there a way to avoid copyright issues while streaming live DJ Sets? Below, we go over everything you can do to keep your streams live on air! Alternatively, if you’re looking for a simple way to stream straight from your DJ Controller to your phone using an SC4, see our video here.
- Why does my stream keep getting taken down?
- What can you do to avoid copyright issues?
- The Final Say
Why does my DJ Live Stream keep getting taken down?
Technically, on nearly every live streaming platform available, broadcasting your DJ streams is straight-up not allowed. If you don’t own the copyright to what your streaming, and you haven’t been given permission directly from the rights holder, it’s off-limits. Unfortunately for DJs, that covers just about every single DJ set ever played.
That being said, even if you have previously obtained permission by the copyright holder to play a certain song, there’s no guarantee that’ll keep you out of trouble. Because unfortunately, there’s no way for Facebook to know during your stream if you have the copyrights to play a certain song. So more often than not, unless you’re a massive industry name; Facebook will assume you’re breaking copyright laws and pull your stream off air!
Therefore, your streams are at constant risk of getting pulled from the platform. Leaving you having to start up again and try to persuade your audience to come back and find your re-started stream. On top of that, recent reports are popping up online that some DJs are even getting banned completely from live streaming on Facebook altogether. It remains to be seen how long these bans are in place for, and how many DJs this is affecting. But, it’s definitely something worth considering before hitting that go live button!
How are others getting away with it?
It seems to be the case that some streaming platforms are more lenient than others. While bigger DJs, websites, and companies such as Serato continue to get away with the very thing smaller fish are getting punished by! Unfortunately, that’s just how it seems to be at the moment. And with clubs closed for the time being, you’re just going to have to do what you can to ensure your streams don’t get taken down.
What can you do to avoid copyright issues on your DJ Live Streams?
If you’re set on streaming to either Facebook or Instagram, there are a few techniques you can use to try and beat the system. However, there are a couple of alternative streaming platforms that take a more lenient approach to DJs streaming. So you might want to consider one these if you’re looking to take live streaming DJ sets more seriously.
1. Mixcloud Live
As of April 2020, Mixcloud Live is the first online streaming service to offer 100% legal streaming for DJs. So you won’t have to deal with ANY copyright takedowns, no streaming bans, and no audio muting. However, it does come at a cost! If you want the peace of mind your stream is going to stay live without any issues, you’ll have to sign up to a Mixcloud Pro subscription. However, there is currently a free 30-day trial so you can test out all these features before opening your wallet!
You’ll also have to bare in mind that Mixcloud has rushed the release of the platform in order to satisfy the many frustrated DJs in quarantine. So there might be one or two issues you come across, but Mixcloud is committed to putting out regular updates to fix these small problems.
Overall, Mixcloud Live is the perfect solution for DJs looking to live stream their sets legally. The only downside when compared to platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, is that you won’t already have an active audience. So you’ll have to do a little work in order to push your audience over to Mixcloud to watch your streams.
How to stream on Mixcloud Live
If you’ve done any kind of streaming before, this should be a breeze. But using software such as OBS is the best way to make sure your streams are looking more professional than ever. If you’re not familiar with the software, head to our previous article that goes into detail on how to stream with OBS. The steps will be quite the same for Mixcloud!
As it stands, Twitch seems to be another platform that isn’t so heavily enforcing copyright restrictions. So it’s not surprising that companies such as Serato are actively encouraging users of the software to use Twitch to stream their DJ Sets.
Again, you’ll likely run into similar issues if you don’t already have an active following on the platform. You’ll have to make sure you’re regularly marketing across your other social media to bring your audience over to Twitch and tune into your streams. Furthermore, like Mixcloud; you’ll also want to use something like OBS to get the best results on your stream!
3. Beat the system
If you’re hell-bent on using Facebook Live or Instagram, I don’t blame you. It’s easy, it’s convenient, and the chances are you’ll have the best results engaging your audience. It’s going to be a long uphill battle, but keep a few of the following techniques in mind and it’s sure to go a long way in keeping your stream live for longer or even avoiding issues altogether.
But bear in mind, there’s no guaranteed way to stream on Facebook and Instagram completely risk-free. Especially while you’re going to be playing other artists’ songs! However, if you do have a big enough catalog of originals, it might be worth considering doing entirely original live streams; bypassing the need for the following altogether.
Firstly, the quickest way to get pulled down from Facebook is by playing through an entire song. This gives Facebook copyright algorithms all the time in the world to analyze your audio and work out that you don’t have the rights to it! So by playing shorter snippets of your songs and quickly mixing into the next; you’re throwing Facebook off and giving yourself a better chance of slipping under the radar.
This also helps given the fact most people will be tuning in at home on their computer or mobile device. As opposed to a traditional club environment, your audience is going to have a lot shorter attention spans for each song. So swiftly mixing into the next song is also going to work in your favour in terms of keeping people tuned in.
Another way to get around Facebooks copyright algorithm is by playing mashups! Not always sure to keep you 100% free of issues, but mashups offer a great way to flex your creativity.
If you’re unsure what a mashup is; essentially, a mashup is a musical creation, usually in the form of a song. Created by combining two or more pre-recorded songs together to create an original composition. Often as simple as overlaying the vocal or acapella track of one song seamlessly over the instrumental track of another. If you’ve never made a mashup before, now’s the time to learn. Thankfully, we’ve already written a complete guide that’ll have you making banging mashups in no time!
Additionally, another technique you can throw on top of the above is by making use of different effects! Whether you’re smashing out your effects pads with filters, delays, and reverbs, etc. Or you’re scratching in samples or vocal cuts into the mix, these are all extra things you can do to not only keep your DJ sets creative and entertaining but throw off the algorithms that will end up taking your stream off-air!
Speeding Up & Down
Going further into the effects rabbit hole, altering the pitch of a song is another option worth trying! Whether you’re slightly speeding up a song, or you’re slightly slowing it down; or even doing a dramatic alteration that changes the creative direction of a song completely. Doing things like this is hopefully going to buy you a little bit more time on-air when you’re dying to play that song you know you might not get away with playing.
The Final Say
Above all, unless you’re using a platform that offers 100% legal streaming such as Mixcloud Live; you’re never going to have completely issue-free streaming. Especially if you’re going to be streaming DJ sets with a variety of music that you don’t own the rights to. So you can either jump ship to a new platform or use the methods at hand to try and beat the system. Keeping in mind that Facebook seems to be the most notoriously strict of them all. So it might be better again to opt for Instagram over Facebook for your streams.
If you want more info on how to go about streaming your live sets, check out our ultimate guide here! Or, watch our short video below where Nic explains exactly how you can easily stream directly from your DJ Controller to your phone using the RODE SC4 adapter.