'Digital innovation is delivering previously untapped value': Indie labels hail Facebook deal

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Facebook has secured another batch of key rights, signing licensing deals with indies digital umbrella group Merlin and key labels/distributors Beggars Group, PIAS and InGrooves.

The deals follow similar tie-ups with the likes of Universal Music, Warner Music, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, SACEM, ICE and Kobalt and means Facebook users will now be able to use the indies’ repertoire in their social media posts without fear of infringing copyright. The same applies to users of Instagram, Messenger and Oculus.

Details of Facebook’s music strategy have yet to be unveiled but, as Music Week recently revealed, insiders say deals are being structured in a similar way to one-off settlements, via set lump sums rather than being based on usage. This will let Facebook experiment with its strategy – and allow rights-holders to assess how music is actually used on the platform before refining future deals.

The deal was revealed in typically unorthodox Facebook fashion, via a blog post from Tamara Hrivnak, Facebook’s head of music business development and partnerships who wrote: “Independent artists and labels are an important part of a rich music tapestry. Each of their voices and sounds matter to people. And people matter to Facebook. We are excited to continue partnering with the independent community to build more ways to bring people together through music in user videos and new social features on Facebook, Instagram, Oculus and Messenger.”

“Merlin’s global membership is at the heart of the evolution of the global digital market, in which digital innovation is delivering previously untapped value,” said Charles Caldas, Merlin CEO. “This exciting new partnership ensures that the world’s leading independents are set to benefit from Facebook’s multi-platform music strategy, both now and into the future.”

“We’re happy to be working with Facebook to enable the billions of Facebook and Instagram users to enrich their posts with licensed music from their favourite artists for the first time,” said Simon Wheeler, director of digital and strategy for Beggars Group. “Together we’re aiming to redefine how music is used within UGC to generate new and truly incremental revenue streams for our artists.”

“[PIAS] has always worked with the world’s most creative and inspirational independent artists and labels and has a firm belief that music makes the world a better place,” added Adrian Pope, chief digital officer for PIAS. “Facebook’s on-going commitment to such repertoire and recognition of its value is highly encouraging. We’re pleased that Facebook is fairly compensating rights-holders, and we look forward to working closely with them to help artists and labels develop exciting new ways to engage with global audiences.”

“We are excited to partner with Facebook to allow access to our incredible catalog of independent label content,” said Bob Roback, CEO of InGrooves. “This deal both fairly compensates our labels and expands their opportunities to cultivate deeper engagement with their fans across the dynamic Facebook platforms.”

Despite its lack of licences in many key areas, Facebook has long played a central role in many album marketing campaigns. The new deals are expected to make the social media platform – which has 2.2 billion users – ever more essential to the biz as its licensing status gets less complicated by the day.

Talking in February about Sony/ATV’s Facebook deal, CEO Martin Bandier told Music Week: “That’s one I’m happy with, because it came out of nowhere. You’re talking about starting from zero so, if we got a dollar, it’s a dollar more than you ever got before. But believe me we got more than a dollar! You can rely on that!”

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