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Snapchat gets a new UMG deal and reveals Sounds stats


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Snap launched its ‘Sounds’ feature for Snapchat in October 2020, as a way for people to create videos using licensed music. It’s part of the company’s growing partnerships with the music industry. Today there’s more news on that: a new deal with Universal Music Group, and some stats on how Sounds is doing.

First, the deal, described as an “expansive multifaceted global agreement” that will make UMG’s entire catalogue of music available in Snapchat’s creative tools, including Sounds and its augmented reality lenses. UMG’s teams will be developing more AR lenses for their artists as part of the deal “with the opportunity to feature merchandise launches and e-commerce experiences”.

That has been happening before: UMG and Snap have worked on individual campaigns for the likes of Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Olivia Rodrigo and Benny Blanco, as well as emerging artists like Benee, Iann Dior, Dreamer Boy and Jawny. What’s new is the catalogue-spanning aspect of the licensing deal.

Benee’s lens for 2019 track ‘Supalonely’ has generated more than 1bn views on Snapchat – of videos created by fans using it – while a lens for Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘drivers license’ was used to make more than 10m videos that garnered more than 350m views, according to UMG.

Now more stats. Separate to the UMG deal, Snap announced some figures on Sounds itself. Since its October launch, 521m videos have been created using the feature, generating 31bn views. Nearly 45% of those videos were sent as direct messages.

The company highlighted the same Olivia Rodrigo and Benee stats as UMG’s announcement, adding a couple more success stories so far. The Notorious B.I.G.’s ‘Big Poppa’ has been used for 5m videos that generated 108m views, while Julia Wolf has seen three of her tracks used for nearly 5m videos collectively, generating 330m views.

Snap also noted that besides UMG, it has deals with WMG; Merlin; the publishing arms of all three major labels; Kobalt; BMG; members of US body the NMPA (thus swerving any Peloton/Twitch/Roblox-style legal headaches from that body) and DistroKid, as well as individual songwriters and music publishers.

As its Sounds catalogue expands, Snap is using playlists as a key way for its 280 million daily active Snapchat users to find music to use in their videos. That includes theme and genre-based playlists (Love, Hip-Hop, Movie and TV etc); others with songs that are trending either on Snapchat or on other platforms; and a ‘Top Voisey’ list of tracks created in Voisey, the music app that Snap acquired in November 2020.

Snap is also working with digital music services – Spotify, SoundCloud and Apple Music so far – to use its ‘Snap Kit’ tool to help people create musical snaps from those streaming services. It is also working with individual artists on other kinds of content: for example a recently-announced reality show with Megan Thee Stallion.

Stuart Dredge

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