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Tuesday, February 17, 2009 

Sharing Your Information on Facebook and Other Social Networks

by Madalyn Sklar

By now you are probably hearing lots of media hype surrounding Facebook's Term of Use. I know it's easy to get caught up in this and hastily decide to cancel your Facebook account. Or at least think about it. I heard from co-workers this morning that Whoopi slammed Facebook on The View. I have been getting bombarded by people today wanting to know my take on it. I've directed them to some articles that explain my position on the subject. Then my next thought was to blog about it and help educate what this really means. From there you can decide what's best for you.

Remember awhile back when Myspace updated their terms everyone freaked out and starting closing their accounts? Many musicians were upset that they did not own their music if it was on Myspace. Now the same feelings are being dished out in regards to Facebook.

First let me say... hold on! Let's get a better handle on what this is about.

When it comes to the Internet and especially social media, you are placing your words, thoughts, information, images and music out for the world to see and hear. There is a reason for this, right? Think about it. Why do you do it? It's not because someone is pointing a gun to your head and making you. It's because you want to share yourself with the world. That's what makes social networking so awesome. On the flipside, you can choose not to participate.

I remember when the Internet was new and most did not know what a .com was. Yes, I go that far back with it. I was so thrilled that I could buy something online with a credit card. I remember people freaking out asking me why on earth I would do that. Simple. It was convenient. And I trusted it. I went with my gut. It took many years before I saw people finally get comfortable using what we now take for granted, e-commerce. It's like we can't live without it now. But I remember when the media hyped it up in a very negative way. I remember people telling me they would never put their credit card online.

Times changed didn't it?

Here we are, years later. Social Networks are the present norm. It's a great way to connect with the world in a way you could not do before. As a businesswoman, it has opened new and exciting doors that did not exist even a few years ago. For musicians, it's become the best way to get heard by the masses. Yes, for many indies it's building it one fan at a time but you are putting yourself out there to the entire world... the masses.

So that brings me to the present topic. Did you just find out yesterday your content on Facebook as well as just about every Social Media site you're on is not yours exclusively? Facebook updated their terms on February 4. But you are hearing about it now because the critics are being harsh. And for good reason. It's important to understand it. But it's all in how you see it.

What Facebook is saying is that by using their site you are granting them a license. Facebook's top dog Mark Zuckerberg explains here. And it makes sense.

Our philosophy is that people own their information and control who they share it with. When a person shares information on Facebook, they first need to grant Facebook a license to use that information so that we can show it to the other people they've asked us to share it with. Without this license, we couldn't help people share that information.

Now do you really think your Facebook photo albums are going to wind up in an art gallery somewhere with Facebook pocketing the money? And if you are worried about who sees your content on Facebook you can completely control it all through your privacy settings. I plan to devote an entire online class to his subject very soon. Keep an eye out on my blog for details. If you are not getting my RSS feed you can easily subscribe at the top or even sign up for my blog updates via email.

The one thing that bothers me is that Facebook is now saying that if you terminate your account they retain rights to your content. There is no good warm fuzzy feeling about that. But I understand why they are doing it. My friends and I like to tag each other in our Facebook photos then commment incessantly about it. So if I decided to terminate Facebook should my past content disappear from my friends pages? Okay I get it. Still no warm fuzzy about it but it does make some sense. And ironically there is a new Facebook Group dedicated to getting that item removed from the terms.

Have you noticed the new sites cropping up just about daily that allow you to cross-pollinate your information across various social sites? When you think about it your information is all over the Internet and you allowed it. Yes, it's your information. But it's free floating on the web. If that bothers you then you should rethink your use of Social Networks. But you know I'm a huge fan of these sites and feel strongly that indie artists should embrace it.

I love the Internet. I'm not afraid to put information out there. Yes, people could take my e-Books and find a way to resell it for their own profit. But I don't lie awake at night worried about it. I think it's very important to put your music and videos out there and let people discover your talents. Yes, it's a vast sea out there. It's far reaching. If you want to get heard you can't be afraid of it.

Educate yourself and read Facebook's Terms of Use if you dare. Then take a few minutes to read these two articles that will help put things into perspective.

Wake Up to How You Share on the Web by Chris Brogan

Do Facebook Really Own Your Data? NO! It’s About Openness by Mari Smith

I welcome your comments on this turbulent subject. I know you may not agree with my opinion. That is okay. I'd love to hear from you regardless of which side of the fence you're on. My hope is that I helped it make a bit more sense.

Copyright © 2009 Madalyn Sklar, IndieMusicCoach.com

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 13 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

Madalyn's Sites:
Social Networks for Musicians

Follow Madalyn @ Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn

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Hey Madalyn! Thanks for posting this. I just heard about the Facebook "Terms of Use" issues when someone told me yesterday to check out the Perez Hilton Blog about 'why facebook sucks'

It's somewhat funny that people would freak out so quickly about these things. It's true... we have a choice to put things out there on social networking sites. Particularly for independent musicians, it's a great way to reach out to people and gain fans, but of course you'd want to know that you still own the rights to your own music.

It makes perfect sense that with the "Terms of Use" they basically need you to grant them permission (or license) to even host your info/music/pics in the first place. They definitely are not trying to steal anyone's work. The fact is, with intellectual property rights, (or copyright) the creator/artist owns the right to their work. But you do have to grant permission for it to be shared and hosted on the wonderful world wide web!

Thanks for sharing your info and opinions on the matter! I don't think anyone should hesitate to continue using these great networking sites!

Madalyn, have you, or your clients ever been burned by a contract? If not, consider yourself lucky. If so, you'll understand why agreeing to the Facebook terms is a raw deal. You might want to chat with a talkative law student before making a final call.

Me? I'm not putting anything of commercial value on Facebook. I'll put my copyrighted material on a site that I control and simply put a link to it on FB.

I'm too old to start trusting lawyers now! {grin}


Hi Madalyn,

This is a very interesting and timely blog. Thanks for posting it. I think you made some valid points about how, as a musician, you can make the choice whether or not to use the various Social Networks out there. And if you don't like one (Facebook, for example) there are certainly other social networks that may suit you and your music better such as Twitter, LinkedIn, ReverbNation and the ubiquitous MySpace.

Thanks for sharing!!

Austin GoGirls Coordinator

This is a great discussion that brings up a much larger issue that all of us as business owners (if you're an indie musician you're a business owner) are dealing with. The "business model" is changing. And can we think creatively to make a living in this new evolving opportunity.

I have to admit the new horizon around music has had me in a tailspin around all of this FREE information, songs, downloads, videos etc.. We spend so much time writing a song, arranging it, re-writing, tweaking, gathering musicians, rehearsing then drop a couple thousand or more to record it and have it produced THEN we say...here everyone take it for FREE!!!!

It's like a lawyer dropping $180K on a degree then going to work for FREE. BUT that is the reality of what is happening in this business. AND I've added many new fans through Facebook and when they add my songs to their profile it's becoming FREE marketing, and that song is my ambassador.

So, how do we move forward with acceptance; be savy, smart and roll with it. As far as social networking goes, I have to remember always that I'm a business and I keep my personal comments and information as private as I can. And I'm always thinking, OK, if I'm giving this away for FREE...HOW do I make money, HOW do I get my return?

Copyright and ownership are changing very fast, the US copyright office is struggling to keep up. BUT, always gotta ask, Why are you doing it? How can you fans find you? If you can't make money just by "owning" the song, how can you?

Great comments! Thank you all. Keep 'em coming.

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    Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 15 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

    Madalyn's Sites:
    * GoGirlsMusic.com
    * Social Networks for Musicians
    contact: madalynsklar(at)gmail.com


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