Copyrights And Live Streaming: Where To Stream Your DJ Set

An inevitable part of DJing is mixing a song you may not have a license for, depending on the platform and as live streaming musical performances becomes the new norm, tech giants like Instagram are cracking down on streaming when it comes to your DJ sets.

Instagram monitors live streams and detects unlicensed music for the benefit of the original artist and record label, making sure nobody else may be profiting off of their work, and for other legal reasons. When an unlicensed track is detected in your stream, you can land yourself in some hot water. Some of the punishments Instagram is dishing out are ending your live stream unexpectedly, deleting your content, or suspending your account. If you’re a DJ who wants to stream sets on Instagram or (any other popular platform) there are a few guidelines you’ll have to follow.

Instagram Announces Guideline Update

In May of this year, Instagram released an update to their policies regarding music in live and pre-recorded video. The update reiterated the fact that Instagram does not allow the use of unlicensed music in any kind of content posted. The update also provided some general rules of thumb to help avoid you from feeling any heat from Instagrams monitoring system.

The first tip Instagram gives you if you are using unlicensed music in a live stream or video, the shorter the better. You’re less likely to get detected and ultimately interrupted or suspended if you only briefly use unlicensed material. The next tip is to not use multiple pieces of unlicensed material in a single piece of content. This tip is especially crucial for live streaming DJs. Instagram’s monitoring system may detect unlicensed material in your live set and will at first give you a warning. But if you continue, that is when Instagram will suspend your account. You can read the official blog from Instagram that highlights the most recent changes here.

After reading about these new updates, it may be quite obvious that streaming a live DJ set to Instagram is difficult and tricky unless you have a license for every track you plan to play or your entire set will be of original music where you hold the rights.

Streaming Alternatives

As an alternative, you may want to think about streaming your live DJ set to platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Zoom, or Twitch. Though all these platforms are great for artists and content creators, in recent months only one of these options have proven to be the best for platforms for DJs in particular.

Since the early days, YouTube has been enforcing copyright laws on all kinds of videos and continues to take down content containing unlicensed material. Let us not forget that Facebook owns Instagram, so the Facebook live streaming feature is monitored similarly to Instagram’s. The free version of Zoom only allows a limited number of guests and meetings can only last a maximum of 40 minutes. If you want anything more than that, you’ll have to pay.

Twitch has been the only free platform that has allowed the DJ to stream uninterrupted since the COVID-19 induced lockdown.  Setting up a stream on Twitch from your desktop, smartphone, or other device is relatively simple; especially if you don’t plan on using any external microphones or cameras. All you need to do is create an account and have access to a webcam and wifi. If you do want to use an external set-up to stream higher quality video and sound, Twitch does make this possible. If you want to learn more about this process you can check out our previous blog post: A How To Guide – Live Streaming Your Music Performances. 

Twitch hasn’t been monitoring streams as strictly as Instagram has when it comes to music. But as of June of this year. Twitch announced that they would be taking action to scan and delete saved clips that contain copyrighted material. This means that streamers and DJ’s can still stream music but clips left on profiles are in danger of being deleted. 

Is There A Future For The DJ Live Stream?

As we continue to tough out the COVID-19 pandemic, DJs continue to take to live streaming platforms to reach their audiences. It’s been proving very difficult for these artists to find a platform that will let them create without any limits. And this difficulty makes the future for live streaming DJ sets look uncertain. For now, DJs are finding a safe haven on Twitch but with Twitch’s announcement this past June, unfiltered streaming could be weened out of Twitch’s standard content guidelines. We can only hope that Twitch continues to be streaming paradise or that a new platform arises.


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