Snap strikes deals for licensed music in Snapchat app


Snapchat’s parent company Snap Inc has signed music licensing deals with Warner Music Group, Warner Chappell, Universal Music Publishing, Merlin and a number of members of US publishing body the NMPA.

Bloomberg reported on the deals this morning, adding that Snap is testing a new feature in Australia and New Zealand that lets people add music to their Snapchat posts. Snap has confirmed the news of the deals to Music Ally.

“We’re constantly building on our relationships within the music industry, and making sure the entire music ecosystem (artists, labels, songwriters, publishers and streaming services) are seeing value in our partnerships,” said a spokesperson.

Snapchat will build a catalogue of music clips for people to choose from, but the app will also have a feature to drive the viewers of those videos to the full tracks on streaming services.

When watching a ‘snap’ that contains music, people will be able to swipe up to see the album artwork, song title and artist name, as well as a ‘Play This Song’ link which will take them (via Linkfire smart-URLs) to services including Spotify, Apple Music and SoundCloud.

“We’re excited to be the first major partnering with Snap on this new feature. Both Warner Music and Snap have long track records of embracing innovation and experimentation, and working closely together, our goal is to enable cutting edge social tools to bring our artists’ music to Snap’s highly engaged user base,” said Oana Ruxandra, chief digital officer and EVP, business development at WMG.

“Merlin is excited to partner with Snap given the unique role they can play in the evolution of social music. Merlin’s members have always been early adopters of innovation in the ever-changing digital ecosystem. We look forward to a productive relationship that offers users new ways to express themselves, enables artists to build new audiences, and provides value to our members,” added Merlin CEO Jeremy Sirota.

“We are pleased to partner with Snap to ensure great music can be used on its new service. Our agreement will bring an important new revenue stream to publishers and songwriters and improve the overall quality of the app for users. Snap is doing it the right way – licensing the music it needs before launching to the public,” added NMPA boss David Israelite.

The new feature will be rolling out more widely to English-speaking Snapchat users this autumn.

The background here, of course, are the user-generated content licensing deals struck by Facebook with labels, publishers and collecting societies for use of music in videos uploaded to the social network, but also Instagram – which is currently rolling out globally a TikTok-style ‘Reels’ feature where music plays a big role.

Meanwhile, TikTok has itself been signing licensing deals, including with the NMPA after a period of intense public pressure from the US publishing body. Triller is another company in the social/video space which has deals (although there, too, the NMPA has recently pointed out that there are still agreements to be signed.)

The upshot of all this, as the dust settles, could be very positive for musicians and the music industry: licensing deals covering the biggest social/video apps, which not only ensures royalties are paid for music usage on those platforms, but which provides a base for those companies to continue developing new, innovative features.

That said, artists and songwriters will be keen to understand how that music usage is being tracked and communicated to rightsholders and collecting societies, and then how that data is being used to calculate payouts.

Digital platforms paying rightsholders is good, but it’s just the first part of the pipeline that sees music creators getting paid fairly for their work.

Written by: Stuart Dredge