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Facebook Is Banning “Like To Download”; Why It’s A Good Thing For Artists

Over the last few days, DJ-centric media has started latching to an upcoming change in Facebook’s Terms and Conditions for Pages. The change will effectively eliminate “Like To Download” applications that exchange download access to songs, remixes, soundpacks, etc. in return for a press of the Like button on a page. As much as many artists might to claim that “the sky is falling!”, it’s actually reflective of a continued downward spiral of the platform.

The truth is that Facebook likes have continually been decreasing in value for years, following a parallel trend in a lot of other engagement metrics on the social media giant. As advertising revenue has gone up, we’ve seen a marked decrease in organic page reach and an influx of bogus Likes from bots and click farms. We’ve seen all kinds of pages resorting to posting funny/stupid/shocking videos and other content to increase engagement at any cost (see a DJ-producer example below).

Love the Stanton Warriors - but it's disheartening that their most popular post in the last few weeks is a Bollywood kung fu video.
Love the Stanton Warriors – but it’s disheartening that their most popular post in the last few weeks is a Bollywood kung fu video.

News Of Like-Gating’s Death

The new update to Facebook’s terms and conditions was first made public via a post on the blog:

You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.

According to the post, developers of apps that use this method of like incentivization will have until November 5, 2014 to update their plugin.

Why “Like-To-Download” Is Rubbish

Is this the best way to keep people interested in you as an artist?
Is this the best way to keep people interested in you as an artist?

Like-gating has been a phenomenon of the last 2-3 years on Facebook, as developers of integrated apps for Pages have incorporated the ability to detect if a user is a fan of the page and then unlock a secret link for them. Admittedly, even DJ TechTools has used this tactic on our page – and it has worked really well to boost the “Like” number next to our page. But from the point of view of an artist, we’re pretty sure having Like-gated on Facebook is focusing too much emphasis on a flawed method of gaining fans. Here’s why:

  • It Doesn’t Guarantee Interaction or Fan-Capturing: Users can very quickly click the like button, download the track, and then unlike the page. This whole process takes about 5-10 seconds, and since nearly every producer uses this tool for their latest remixes/bootlegs, most DJs have become very accustomed to this like/download/unlike process.
  • “Liking” A Page Doesn’t Mean Anything In The Face Of Declining Organic Reach: If you can’t reach your users and consistently be able to contact them, why would you value having more of them? Your only option is to pay to get access to their news feed – which you could easily do without them ever liking you.
  • It Excludes Non-Facebook Users: If your audience doesn’t like using Facebook or don’t have an account, it’s unlikely they’ll sign up just to get your track.

Alternatives + What To Do Instead

Bandcamp makes it easy to have a "Name Your Price" option on tracks, where $0 is an option if you enter an email.
Bandcamp makes it easy to have a “Name Your Price” option on tracks, where $0 is an option if you enter an email.

Facebook’s new policy will likely act as an intervention for a lot of up-and-coming artists. Instead of relying on a rapidly-commodified social media platform to rally a fanbase and keep them updated, artists need to control their lists of fans as much as they can. We asked James from FameHouse (a digital marketing agency for major artists and brands) for his advice, and he suggested:

For example, [artists] should give tracks away in exchange for email addresses since email has much higher open rates (to beat the reach problem of FB) and everyone has email, and probably always will (which beats the non-Facebook users problem and provides more insurance to an artist that the platform isn’t going to die out and they’re going to lose all of those fans). 

We’ve seen a number of artists have major success with this email-for-free-music tactic, from The Polish Ambassador to Pretty Lights (and the entire Pretty Lights Music roster). What do you think the best alternatives to Facebook like-hoarding are for artists?

We predicted this continued bad-relationship-style spiral of Facebook back in March – read our full article on why Facebook likes are an awful metric and how to escape Facebook feudalism.  

  • Alvi Kabir

    alvi kabir

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  • Regie Dela Cruz
  • Hey Everyone,

    We’ve released a platform to solve this problem (took us ages to perfect this software).

    It’ll be released to the public in December.

    Add me on Facebook if you’re interested in an ‘invite’ to the platform. Will be made public early 2015

  • Rolled across this from another article but yeah…while I’m here, +1, FB likes have jumped the shark!

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  • Kill The Upstart

    Right, because people check their emails religiously.

  • Knights of the round table

    I dont fish for votes, likes or views, i release something, and its up to the listner if he or she will follow.

    I like the old days, when people worked for a change, made mixtapes, made mistakes, printed flyers and handed out to people on the streets. not social media nonesense!

    When you can make millions on youbetube out of NOTHING; well that when you realize the world is fucked up, and need to stop!

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  • LedParade

    1. I don’t get the problem with like or follow to download. If I like someone’s shit I damn sure follow or like them and if they give out awesome music for free, well then that’s one more reason to follow them.

    2. Furthermore: “It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page.” Which is what all the bigger brands are doing with their “Like to win this expensive prize.” Instead individual people trying to get their game on by giving out their work for free are cut short. This update serves big brands with big bucks who also pay Facebook for data and visibility, while individual people trying to get their game on by giving out their work for free get pissed on.

  • René via ‘Allo ‘Allo

    Not a fan of ‘liking’ to receive, however I’d rather give a 100 likes, (which I can retract once I have my Dl) than give over my email, which will open the floodgates to more spam. Facebook is so irrelevant now I struggle to see why artists even bother with it. Being back Bebo!

  • Gumroad is actually the best alternative IMO. Bandcamp is more based on albums. It gets a little clunky when you have about 30 singles released on your bandcamp, it’ll be hard to distinguish from the actual albums you have up there. And with Gumroad you can see who is downloading what song and reward them for downloading every single song you’ve put out for example.

  • Like-gating is poor marketing. Usually if I see a like-gate, then I assume the end result is not worth the Like…hence I move on. 9 out of 10 times I’m usually right.

    Frankly, promoters shouldn’t judge a DJ on how many likes he/she has. Find out if he/she really “brings heads” and then go from there…if that’s what you prioritize. All this “online love” can be faked for the right money.

  • I disagree somewhat. If someone likes one of my tracks, that I’ve slaved over for hours on end, the least they could do is like my Facebook page.
    It’s not hard and what with Facebook declining into nothing but advertisements and our posts not actually reaching anyone it makes a simple “like” even more cheap for the “fan”. If they give a shit and want to see my posts great! If not it really doesn’t matter any more. I have liked hundreds of pages simply to access free downloads of all sorts and I barely see any of them pop up in my news feed. The inconvenience is so minor it’s almost irrelevant. All Facebook have done here is made it even harder for new artists to expand their social presence.
    As terrible as it is, Facebook is still one of, if not “the”, most popular social media sites and in order to stay in touch we have to use it. I’ve never paid to boost a post and I never will. All we can hope for now is a “hip” new site, where the main goal is not monetisation, to breakthrough and takeover the social limelight and start fresh.

    Soundcloud and Twitter are my most used social sites but they simply don’t have the versatility that Facebook offers for displaying material of all variations.
    Eugh, damn Zuckerburg and his men in suits!

    • You’re right. I totally agree with you. Everybody is “liking” shit all day long from sneezing cat videos and feet-in-the-sand instas to vertically shot useless vines. And when it comes to like an artist for the work they offer/deliver, the “price” of the like is much more higher and commiting for them. That’s crazy.

  • Zomzom

    When I still had a facebook account I would simply “like” what ever it was that I wanted then the second I had it in my possession I would “unlike” whatever it was. I didn’t want to clutter my page with thousands of different things I didn’t really care for. So not only do I find this “like to download” ridiculous to start with, it can prove to be 100% ineffective.

    I would certainly give the artists and companies credit, but I refused to have my page turn into a billboard. I’m happy for this change.

  • stijn

    i really ” like” the idea of pay-with-a-tweet or like….. Cafe’s do the same thing: want to use our wifi? press the like button. and i hope people writing articles such as this one, understand it is not about that person liking me, it is the free exposure that i get to all this persons friends that i have something of quality… if a friend of mine likes a track, i will listen and download (paid)… i think FB is just bugged with the fact they don’t get a piece of the pie..

    • Rhakka

      I think this is exactly what’s going on here. Facebook is about to change their game by adding in “features” that will allow for content gating in a way that helps Facebook make money off the provider/consumer relationship. “Hey, this here, what we have already, is bad… we have a solution, though!” Just wait for it. 😉

  • CUSP

    I really like Bandcamp. Legit downloads for a price you feel is worthwhile. This is something I’ve been doing for a while and I can honestly say, it’s worth doing.

  • chris

    compulsive hoarder

  • Ztronical

    My guess is that many people made accounts to use the like to download. And did not use any other social interaction.
    Facebook is big on the interaction part.
    In fact that is Facebook. I would guess that too much deviation from a social network, and more file-sharing was a red flag.
    My guess…btw I don’t have Facebook. A person recently was fired were I work for comments posted.

  • Mojaxx

    I’m going to disagree with your position on this, actually Dan.

    I use Facebook as my main social platform for my DJ work, but in a local-centric way, not hustling for fans, but instead adding local clubbers as friends. That’s a pretty standard way of working in my city, and everyone else does it too (you should see how many event invites I get!).

    What that means is that I spend a LOT of time in my Facebook feed, which is full of noise from all these ‘friends’.

    And you know what else is in my feed? Posts from the artists on whose pages I’ve clicked ‘Like’ on in order to get a free download in the past.

    I don’t interact with it all, by any means. And I’m sure due to Facebook’s dodgy algorithms, I don’t even see most of it. But I see some, and that might mean I go buy a release, or am made aware of a show, or just another download so I can support their music.

    I’m far less inclined to give artists my email, unless I really have to; I don’t mind stuff appearing in my FB feed, but I really don’t want my inbox full of artist promo. Like to Download is a low commitment, low impact option for me, but still gives an artist some chance of reaching me in the future.

    So much about Facebook is absolute bullsh*t, it sucks in so many ways, but for me, the ‘Like to download’ phenomenon seems like it is pretty valuable, and it’s a shame it’s going away.

    • Dan White

      I actually had a whole section of this article about how Facebook events are another thing that Facebook used to work well for. It used to be a primary function (along with posting photos from events), and now anecdotal evidence indicates to me that the intimacy that people feel to an event on FB is massively less than it was 5 years ago.

      This might mostly be a function of the network becoming less of a local, real world connected network and more of a Linked-In style “connect with all aquantainces” network. Thoughts?

      • justleckie

        I have seen a major slump in FB event numbers over the past year, and one of the guys I do a monthly with feels they don’t help at all. A couple of months ago I decided to not make an event page to see, and in the end it hurt our night badly. I think it is more that people see something is happening, but don’t care to click “like” or “going”, because they are scrolling. Our photos on the other hand seem to still get big numbers of views and “likes”, and we get more response from our Instagram & Twitter pages then we do Facebook.

      • Mojaxx

        The whole events thing is a total rabbit-hole! But I would definitely be interested to see an in-depth article about it on DJTT, some case studies and stuff.

        Certainly in my part of the world, FB marketing is ESSENTIAL… But not the whole picture (as some erroneously thought it might be). 😉

  • Denver

    I had a facebook account for a while after being talked into it by friends and family. It got to the point that I literally had no idea how stupid most of my “friends” were, which came to a head during the Newtown massacre. I deleted my account and was happy, until I tried to download a lot of really great songs from Soundcloud and encountered the “Like to Download” problem. Now I have an account again, with no friends, just to follow artists and newsgroups I like.

    As annoying as it is, if you like a song enough to download somebody’s hard work, why not follow them for a bit. Some of these up and coming producers/artists are brilliant and watching them rise up has been amazing. If that switched to an email only platform the people who kept their “like” would be subjected to email newsletters for concert dates and such, which I find much more annoying than opting to check my Facebook every few days as I choose.

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  • it bugs me to no end when I have to like a page to get a download. Just a really dumb way to gain “Fans”. Promoters need to start using their brains and understand that facebook like numbers are a BS metric for artist popularity.

    • jakestyles002

      If there was a “like” button on this comment Ean, I would have clicked it.

      • NKT

        Oh there is… the “Up” arrow. However there will be no downloads for you when clicked 🙂

    • NKT

      I think Talent should be a part of being booked as well. Anyone can “pay” for likes, but we as consumers shouldn’t get duped into “paying” to see some shit FB or Twitter Jockey… It’s a sad day when “stats” over rule “talent”

      • Knights of the round table

        Talent is overrated, at least today. your a dj as long as you can push a button!, that what most of the masses think anyway

        • Breaking Bear

          DJ = Digital Joker unfortunately.. why people call these idiots talent is shocking, these days everything is automated with BPM matching and shit like.. Give um 2 turntables and some vinyl and say “What Now bitch!” i say.

    • FB metrics is going mad those last few months. A lot of artists with more than 100K fans, even if they post rich content (podcasts…) only get some feedback/likes with a ratio of about 1‰ to 4‰. (i.e: latest DJ Sneak podcast update on facebook with 110K fans equals 100 likes…) That’s ridiculously low and is the proof that the LIKE-value is BS and FB updates connection to user is not working at all unless you pay for it. Check your beloved artists conversion rate (likes for an update/fan likes) and you’ll get some surprises.

  • decoherence

    Finally! I refuse to have a facebook. I have no problem giving artists my e-mail address or paying for a track. I admit, I would look for other sources to get a track when they wall themselves behind facebook.

  • Volker

    I see a misconception in social media: “reach your users” really means to be able to throw adverstising at them. A Like has nothing to do with community or relations or interaction. (It’s just putting people and pages in the user’s box)

    Another misconception: “reach your users” = “we can be easily found”. Web search is searching under street lights only.

    • CUSP

      Totally agree on both points. Facebook makes their money pushing ads and selling it’s users as a “better-defined demographic” to vendors. Single-use pages are worthless to Facebook.

      Web Searches are becoming so bad you can’t find what you’re looking for without sifting through garbage… thanks to commoditization.

    • Knights of the round table

      Facebook wants more money so they can buy shit like Oculus and stuff
      So they block some of your “tweets” just to get you advertizing in a much winder scale.

      if you had say 200 followers last year, most of the people could read all your threads. but now at least 50% dont get it at all. they dont even see the updates!

      Fuck facebook, Soundcloud and Youtube!, same shit and greedy personnalitys behind it but different names!

  • DJ TyDoZ

    VK.COM is the thing. Yall have been wasting your time on Facebook for no good….

    • Mark Smith

      Well I did a tiny bit of research and I signed up for VK. It’s Euro focused. I don’t think it will benefit me here in the U.S. at all. Also it’s not as user friendly as FB.

      • ????? ????????

        it depends on what you call “user friendly” & why it’s Euro focused?

        • Mark Smith

          Only one of my U.S. friends have it. I actually cannot find any of my Euro friends on it either. It is difficult to search for people as you would on FB. I cannot post content like my Mixcloud or Soundcloud mixes very easily.

          • ????? ????????

            Btw to post an external link you have just to publish the link itself.

      • DJ TyDoZ

        Mark, I don’t know what you think about digital copyrights. Fact is that on VK you can download high quality music, any genre, for free. Communities are still very russian, but things are starting to change. If you’re into trap/twerk/edm, VK is the place to be homez.

      • DJ TyDoZ

        Mark, it is a russian thing, kinda rough, but its music library is incredible. I recommend installing a plugin called VKopt, which allows you to download the songs, knowing beforehand bitrate and size of file.

  • Chaser720

    I was fine with liking pages to download a few tracks. I just figured it was a small payment for the music. I’m curious as to how “popular” facebook artist will deal with it. They may include a link to platform such as Bandcamp but I doubt they will move their pages all together.

  • And who said Facebook couldn’t get any worse.