Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has reached a licensing agreement with Sony/ATV Music Publishing that will allow users to post user-generated videos that include licensed music without having them taken down due to copyright infringement. The deal will include Facebook's core social media platform as well as its popular Instagram photo/video sharing service and Oculus VR platform, and artists will begin earning royalties from the usage.
Of the major labels, Sony/ATV is the largest publishing company, representing household names like Ed Sheeran, Alicia Keys, and Taylor Swift, among many others. This is a huge win for both companies.
Only one major record label left to go
The news comes nearly a month after Facebook signed a similar deal with Universal Music, suggesting that its negotiations are proceeding well and a deal with the third and final major record label, Warner Music Group, could be imminent. Facebook and Sony/ATV didn't elaborate much in terms of what else may be in store for the future of the partnership, but the Universal announcement last month referenced additional "music-based products" that could eventually make their way to Facebook platforms.
It's not clear what products this refers to, but the most obvious possibility would be some type of music-streaming service.
Assembling a team
Facebook's music chief Tamara Hrivnak is already earning her keep after the social titan poached the music executive from YouTube early last year. In announcing the Sony deal, Hrivnak told Variety, "We're excited to work with the largest music publisher in the world to bring amazing songs which deepen connections between friends and fans. Sony/ATV is a true leader and an absolute champion of writers in the digital space, and we're thrilled to work with them as they grab new opportunities by the horns across all of our platforms."
Beyond Hrivnak, Facebook is hard at work assembling a music team, which will only fuel continued speculation that a music-streaming service is in the pipeline. The social network poached Jeremy Sirota from Warner Music in November, where he previously served as head of business and legal affairs. Sirota is now part of the music team's business development at Facebook, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Warner Music exec Perry Bashkoff may even be defecting to Facebook in 2018, according to Music Business Worldwide. It's probably not a coincidence that both music execs previously worked with Hrivnak. Music Business Worldwide also points out that Facebook has been hiring for a wide range of music-related roles recently, suggesting that it has broader ambitions.
The widely expected Warner deal can't come soon enough.
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