By now you may know that Warner Music Group has become the latest major label to sign a licensing deal with Facebook. Like the social network’s previous agreements, the focus is firmly on user-uploaded videos that feature copyrighted music, across Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Messenger and Oculus VR.
Most of the canned-quotes for the licensing deal don’t add much to what other rightsholders have said about Facebook’s music partnerships, but we’d pick out WMG chief digital officer Ole Obermann’s comments about user-generated content as the most noteworthy.
“Fan-created video is one of the most personal, social and often viral ways that music is enjoyed, but its commercial potential is largely untapped,” he said. “This collaboration will lead to new possibilities for our artists, while enhancing the user experience across Facebook, Instagram and Oculus, and enabling people to communicate and express themselves using the music they love.”
That sound you can hear may be YouTube execs twitching in their seats, given their frequent message to the industry that Content ID (i.e. fan-created video) has represented half of the revenues YouTube pays out to music rightsholders.
But sidestepping those arguments in this case, Obermann’s comments about fan-created video as an important potential revenue-stream, rather than talking in terms painting it as a copyright headache, is a positive attitude shared by a growing swathe of the industry.
It’s true that Facebook’s first wave of music-licensing deals are essentially the social network striking agreements to not get sued for copyright infringement, with widespread expectations that this will buy Facebook time to figure out what its deeper, longer-term music strategy is.
But we think there’s another opportunity here: for labels, managers and artists to not just sit back and hope for fan-created-video money to roll in, but to be pro-active and figure out ways to help fans to make creative content – not just on Facebook, but on any platform where royalties can be generated from their creativity.