Music publishers gear up for Facebook licensing push


If 2016 was the year of the ‘value gap’ debate around YouTube and music licensing, could 2017 see music rightsholders shift some of their pressure on to Facebook?

According to Sony/ATV boss Martin Bandier, the social network’s role in the music ecosystem will be a growing focus next year.

“Facebook is on everyone’s agenda,” Bandier told Music Ally in an interview for our end-of-year report, which will be published later today. “What they are doing in America, they are doing within the rights that they have. Believe me, they are clearly on the agenda of all music publishers, all record companies and all of the trade associations.”

Facebook’s emergence as a powerful platform for user-generated video uploads – and more recently live streams as well – has not yet sparked an open war-of-words with the music industry comparable to YouTube and the ‘value gap’.

However, the social network’s recent recruitment for a global director of music licensing partnerships showed it’s alive to the copyright implications of its video moves.

That’s enhanced by a report on MBW yesterday about rising copyright takedowns for content posted to the social network – and specifically for cover-version videos. “For us now, and I’m sure many others, it is vital that the music publishers and Facebook strike a deal as soon as possible,” said Max Parker, who manages an artist – Samantha Harvey – who’s been receiving a series of takedowns for video covers that she posted on Facebook.

When Music Ally reported last year on industry speculation that Facebook had ambitions to enter the (audio) music-streaming market, the social network firmly denied it. Attention has since shifted to the potential of it doing more with music videos, although every so often gossip about Spotify’s ultimate exit being a Facebook acquisition rather than an IPO.

In the meantime, the social network’s new Facebook Live Audio feature includes musicians broadcasting concerts or studio sessions as one of its potential uses.

That, plus the existing dynamic of musicians uploading or broadcasting video covers to the platform, means that Facebook and music licensing will be a big story in 2017. Hopefully a positive, constructive one.

Written by: Stuart Dredge