There have always been copyright concerns for DJs. Appropriate licenses were always required. However, it was harder to enforce infractions during a live performance. However, in the internet age today, DJ copyright issues became more complicated.

COVID-19 has played a role in this escalation, too. Since the pandemic began, the number of nightlife opportunities for aspiring DJs has decreased significantly. The decline in opportunity led many DJs to work on the internet, putting their sets on Instagram, Twitch, or YouTube, which have live stream functionality.

However, live-streaming DJ sets are an area where copyright disputes have become a significant problem. Sometimes, a DJ will go live to do a digital set, and their live stream will be taken down because of a copyright claim on the content used in their mix. While using copyrighted tracks without a license within a live performance DJ set was traditionally accepted in real-world DJing, the internet keeps track of every note played over the live stream. Therefore, if you do not have the appropriate licensing, your stream will get taken down instantly. It’s called a copyright strike, and Google says it happens when a copyright owner has requested a takedown.

So, how do you avoid this happening to your latest post? Here are some tips to help avoid copyright strikes in your live stream mixes.

1. Make and upload a test recording to find the problem tracks.

Per Digital DJ Tips, you can get a better understanding of what is going to get your stream copyright claimed by recording the set you are planning on live streaming, and then upload this to YouTube as an unlisted video. Shortly afterward, the copywriting system on YouTube will flag all of the problem tracks that prevent the video from getting monetized. Then, remove the problem tracks from the mix and continue to live stream the set.

2. Manipulate the audio of the mix to hide the copywritten bits.

Once you have located the audio portions that have been flagged, you can manipulate the audio files within the mix to prevent detection of the copyrighted material. Try speeding up or slowing down the audio, adjusting the pitch, or modulating the sound through an audio filter.

3. Stream on platforms that are not as strict about copyright. (DJ City, 1)

Compared to Instagram or YouTube, where one mistake can have your stream taken down and demonetized in minutes, DJ City says Twitch and Facebook are far less stringent about copyright rules. For example, playing mashups of copyrighted material is one of the best ways to get around Facebook’s content algorithm. While this method is not entirely foolproof, it can improve your streaming experience.

4. Reduce the duration of licensed tracks.

Electronic Music Collective says Instagram released new guidelines regarding copyrighted music on Instagram Live, the company’s live streaming service, in May 2020. Instagram stated they will not allow unlicensed music of any variety. However, in the guidelines, Instagram also offered advice: the shorter the duration of copyrighted material, the better. So, if you don’t want to go through the hassle of editing or manipulating the audio of your mix, try reducing the duration of track’s copyrighted portions.

5.  Stream on MixCloud.

One of the only major streaming platforms that offer completely legal streaming for DJs and others using copyrighted material in their work is MixCloud, per DJ City. Unfortunately, this peace of mind comes with a cost. Streaming on MixCloud without fear of copyright strikes requires you to pay for MixCloud Pro, which has a $15/mo subscription. However, MixCloud offers a 30-day free trial to test these features if you are on the fence about spending that much every month.

Overall, the experience of streaming copyrighted music on any platform without a license will be challenging. It will always require jumping though many hoops. Fortunately, once you overcome the obstacles, you can avoid copyright strikes most of the time.

And if this all seems like a lot of hassle to avoid a copyright strike on streaming platforms, we offer you our final bonus tip: do the right thing and get a license to use that music.

Sources:

(2020). Avoiding Copyright Issues On Your DJ Live Streams. DJ City. Retrieved from https://djcity.com.au/blog/avoiding-copyright-issues-on-your-dj-live-streams/

(2021). 3 Vital Steps for DJing on YouTube (Without Copyright Hassle). Digital Dj Tips. Retrieved from https://www.digitaldjtips.com/2021/08/3-vital-steps-for-djing-on-youtube-without-copyright-hassle/ 

(2020). Copyrights and Live Streaming: Where to Stream your DJ Set. Electronic Music Collective. Retrieved from https://electronicmusiccollective.com/copyrights-and-live-streaming-where-to-stream-your-dj-set/

(2020). Copyright Claims are Ruining Live Streaming for Everyone. Paper Magazine. Retrieved from

https://www.papermag.com/instagram-live-copyright-dj-censoring-2645789312.html