I've received emails, and have read many posts online from churches all over having their Facebook live streams shut down half way through their service, or videos of their services taken down after posting. The majority of the time, it has to do with Facebook algorithms detecting licensed music in the stream.
Facebook does not currently have a way to verify that you have the proper license or permission to broadcast the music in your service. What's more, is that if your church page is flagged too many times, there have been churches that have had their Facebook pages locked out.
As of January 2017, Facebook had hired Tamara Hrivnak, who was the director of music partnerships at YouTube and Google Play, to lead global music strategy and business development. Following the announcement, Hrivnak posted on Facebook “This is a new adventure for me and I look forward to deepening Facebook’s relationship with the music industry.”
Facebook is well aware that their user-created video content, whether live or pre-recorded contains a ton of licensed music. In an op-ed for Billboard, David Israelite, the President/CEO of the National Music Publishers' Association states "In a recent snapshot search of 33 of today's top songs, NMPA identified 887 videos using those songs with over 619 million views, which amounts to an average of nearly 700,000 views per video. In reality, the scope of the problem is likely much greater because, due to privacy settings on Facebook, it's almost impossible to gauge the true scale.
To avoid potential issues with this, many churches have instead been using Facebook Live for other purposes:
- Have your pastor preach a sermon specifically to Facebook apart from Sunday. 10-20 minutes from their office, even just on their phone. Facebook still heavily pushes live notifications in users feeds so it's still quite easy to pick up a number of viewers to interact with. This can be a great interaction between your church and the community.
- Use it to do short teasers or announcements for upcoming messages, series, or special events for the community.
- Show behind the scenes type content during rehearsals for a skit or stage preparation. Be careful with licensed ambient music in the background though.
Get creative with the platform, it can be very powerful when you're engaging with the audience instead of just setting up a camera and letting it run.
There are videos that slip through the cracks and haven't been flagged taken down, it won't be 100%. But we've found in our dealings with large events that anytime you do have board feed audio going to the stream with licensed music playing, Facebook is pretty quick at catching it and shutting it down.
For now, YouTube or your paid streaming provider is probably your safest bet for uninterrupted streaming service.
I would encourage all churches to make sure you have the correct licenses for how you are using music in your services. It can be somewhat confusing, but Chris Huff wrote a great article on all of the different licenses available here.