Every social media platform is inevitably swamped by rumours of a “music play” – with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter having all been through the rumour mill in recent years. While they all now have music components, they are not the full-on DSPs that some suggested they might become. Instead they use music as an enhancement of what they already offer instead of presenting it as a standalone entity.
That all seems to be changing. Or, at least, the rumours are moving up a gear. Recently ByteDance, owners of TikTok, was reported to be considering a full streaming service and now Snapchat, according to the Wall Street Journal (via Rolling Stone), has its own music ambitions. All three major labels (although there is no mention of Merlin or the indies here) are said to be in talks with the social platform to allow music to be licensed within Snapchat app.
It could be akin to what Facebook (also covering Instagram and Oculus) has done which is to get licences that allow users to add music into their posts rather than have music playback as a separate part of the offering. The issue, of course, will be how much music the labels want each post to include (a snippet rather than the full song?) and how much they should get paid for that (just how long is that piece of string and equally how long is that other piece of string for the advance?).
There are no deals as yet but the suggestions are that “discussions have intensified in recent weeks” so what form this could all take it all hypothetical for now. It could be treated like an audio embellishment (as with Instagram) or a front-and-centre lip-sync feature like TikTok. Snap already has a Lens Challenge feature on its lens platform; but possibly these licensing deals could open up music across Snap – and not just on its lens offerings.
The wider context, of course, is that Snapchat could be on the wane. Last month, eMarketer was suggesting it was losing users to Instagram in the UK as well as in the US. The company itself reported its first ever decline in daily active users in Q2 2018, although its net losses for the period narrowed to $353m. It did, however, report a loss of $310.4m in its latest numbers, covering Q1 this year, although daily active users were slightly up in the period. Snap is also reported to be planning an in-app gaming platform. With the added music rumours, this could be the app looking at the entertainment categories most likely to not just retain its existing users but also draw in new ones.
The macro problem within all of this is the fickle world of social media. As soon as users start to defect from a platform – and the media covers its struggles – everything gets exacerbated. Pulling a company out of a nosedive – or even a wobble – is no easy task. Music and games might not be the saviours these platforms need and all they could end up doing is delaying the inevitable.