News yesterday that Facebook is testing ad-supported native videos with a small group of media partners was swiftly followed by a rumour that the social network is in talks with major labels about “getting into music”.
Based on what Music Ally has been hearing in recent weeks, these two stories are extremely likely to be related. With Facebook keen for labels to upload full music videos to its service, and labels just as keen to have monetisation in place before they do it, the ad-supported trial may be the key to any music deals.
Variety published details of the trial, which is based around a “suggested videos” box that will pop up when people watch a native video on Facebook. The trial involves playing ads in between the videos, and sharing 55% of the revenues with the partners providing the videos.
Facebook’s Dan Rose told Variety that “a few dozen” partners are in the trial including Fox Sports, the NBA, Hearst, Funny or Die and Tastemade. So, for now it’s traditional media companies and newer multi-channel networks rather than music labels.
But that may change: over to The Verge, which reported that Facebook had held talks with UMG, Sony and WMG about getting more involved in music, albeit with caveats that the talks are “in the very early stages” and even that Facebook “hasn’t yet decided precisely what it wants to do”.
There’s a reference to video, and nods to past efforts in music from the social network, from its partnerships with Spotify and other streaming companies for social sharing, to its introduction of ‘listen’ buttons for artists’ pages.
While we’d love to fire up the ‘Facebook should buy Spotify’ speculation wagon again, in the shorter term a partnership with labels and artists around music videos makes more sense.
Music Ally understands that when Facebook has approached labels touting its 4bn-daily-views native video growth and suggested they test it as a complementary channel to YouTube/Vevo, it has received a clear message that monetisation is a prerequisite for any such experiments.
“We’ve heard consistently from media companies and other video creators that if they were able to make money from their videos, they would publish more,” Rose told Variety. That certainly applies to music: it wouldn’t surprise us to see at least one major label joining Facebook’s ad-supported trial in the coming weeks, if they haven’t already.