Analysis

Facebook has a new music boss: here’s her to-do list


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Facebook has hired YouTube executive Tamara Hrivnak to be its new music licensing boss.

The former WMG and Warner/Chappell exec joined Google as its director of strategic music partnerships in 2011, before switching to a role as director of music partnerships for YouTube and Google Play in October 2015.

Now she’s moving to Facebook at a critical time for its relationships with the music industry.

“I’m joining Facebook to lead global music strategy and business development. This is a new adventure for me and I look forward to deepening Facebook’s relationship with the music industry,” wrote Hrivnak in a status update on the social network on Friday.

“My career has been dedicated to growing opportunities for music in the digital landscape. Facebook is all about making the world more open and connected and music can play an important role – I’m excited to join that effort.”

Hiring a figure like Hrivnak shows Facebook means business with music: but what business? She joins with several items on the to-do list, some of them pressing.

For starters, Hrivnak will hope to hit the ground running with music publishers, who have been agitating for months for Facebook to sign licensing deals covering videos uploaded by its users that include music.

Publishers have been upping the number of takedowns they send to Facebook, for example over cover versions uploaded by social stars, and want a formal licensing relationship put in place.

Next on Hrivnak’s list will be moving Facebook’s strategy forward regarding official (i.e. not user-uploaded) music videos with labels.

As the social network’s video focus has grown over the past few years, there have been rumours of a desire to do more to compete with YouTube around music. That speculation – of a Vevo acquisition or partnership for example – has so far come to nothing.

With most labels holding off posting full music videos to Facebook until deals are in place, there remains an opportunity to make it a healthy (but importantly, a monetised) new distribution channel.

Hrivnak will also have a key role to play in figuring out where else music fits in with Facebook. Can it build on its ‘slideshows’ partnership with Warner Music? Is there potential for a new round of integrations with streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music?

Could publisher and label deals also be the launchpad for Facebook to build its own Musical.ly-style app rather than buy the original?

And while Facebook has publicly rebuffed suggestions it has ambitions to get in to audio-streaming itself – for example through a Spotify acquisition – Hrivnak will be responsible for monitoring the market and assessing whether that approach could change.

Stuart Dredge

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