Fight with Facebook: Tucson DJs frustrated as virtual concerts are taken down

DJ's fight with Facebook

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Even in a pandemic, DJs have kept the party going by moving their concerts online.

However, Facebook has started cracking down on livestreaming, leaving some saying they ‘just can’t catch a break’.

“Across the board in the United States, it’s been tough on a lot of DJs because we are entertainment and with bars closing, venues closing, we are going to be the last ones to get back to work,” said DJ Jahmar Anthony.

Since March, DJ Jahmar has been turning up the music and helping people tune out their struggles through Facebook Live.

“I’m hitting, on average, 15,000 to 20,000 people,” he said. “People across the world are watching; Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Canada is a huge one. It’s just nice to see that people appreciate your craft.”

DJ Jahmar has used his platform to promote certain causes and to help those hit hardest by the pandemic. However, he says he doesn’t make a profit from the concerts.

“I don’t get paid for livestreaming,” he said. “Facebook doesn’t cut me a check, the record companies don’t cut me a check, it’s really for the love of music.”

Which, DJ L3XX says, is more important than ever.

“I’ve had people that had [COVID-19] in the hospital that are like, ‘Hey, can you play this song for me? It would really lift my spirits’,” said DJ L3XX. “I have people in South Africa that – I think they said 4 o’clock in the morning – they set an alarm so they can catch our show on a Sunday night.”

Recently, Facebook has been taking down their videos, citing ‘copyright’ laws.

“You can leave up a pedophile video, you can leave up a video of someone getting beat up, somebody getting robbed … but music is bad?” DJ L3XX asked.

A Facebook spokesperson sent the following statement;

"Music is a bonding force in normal times. During difficult and isolating times like this, we know it can be even more important.

As social distancing has forced everyone to stay apart, more people have turned to Instagram and Facebook Live to stay connected with their communities. This rapid rise in usage has created a lot of good during this crisis – raising money for frontline workers and underserved communities, driving awareness of healthy habits, encouraging people to stay safe by staying home and bringing people together through new forms of entertainment. But it’s also highlighted some confusion across the community – especially around the use of recorded music in Live on both Facebook and Instagram.

We want to encourage musical expression on our platforms while also ensuring that we uphold our agreements with rights holders. These agreements help protect the artists, songwriters and partners who are the cornerstone of the music community – and we’re grateful for how they’ve enabled the amazing creativity we’ve seen in this time.

As part of our licensing agreements, there are limitations around the amount of recorded music that can be included in live broadcasts or videos."

“From what I’m hearing, it’s a copyright issue that Facebook doesn’t want to pay the copyright fee,” said DJ Jahmar. “Facebook: you guys are valued at over $500 billion! At least create a licensing fee for DJs, that we pay $5 a month and that goes to the licensing fee right there.”

“Even we pay [for licensing], because the sites we use … those companies are paying for that,” DJ L3XX said.

The two are concerned their pages will be taken down on October 1st, as certain terms take effect. However, Facebook says, “We enforce these guidelines across video (including Live) on both Facebook and Instagram, and for all types of accounts, and have been doing so since 2018. We enforce the same way today as we would on October 1st if IP is violated.”

DJ Jahmar has started a petition to allow DJs to continue live streaming concerts. In the meantime, they are moving their shows to another platform.

“I’m going to Twitch. People can follow me at ‘DJ Jahmar Intl.’ on Twitch,” said DJ Jahmar. “We’ll see how long that lasts.”

Facebook didn’t directly respond to questions about purchasing a copyright license but did point KOLD News 13 to their free music library with readily available songs and sound effects.

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