Just days after launching their new ‘Sound Collection’ of free audio tracks which users can freely add to their uploaded videos, Facebook has announced a new deal with Universal Music Group which will enable them to offer music from Universal artists for use in various ways across the platform.
From the Universal press release:
“The partnership will facilitate deeper engagement between artists and fans, empowering users to express themselves through music, share the songs they love and build communities around music-fueled culture. Enabling a variety of features across Facebook’s platforms, the agreement is intended to serve as a foundation for a strategic partnership roadmap that will deliver new music-based experiences online.”
How, exactly, Facebook intends to use and offer these new music tools is not clear, though as noted, the immediate opportunity would appear to be in video, where Facebook has put increased focus in 2018. Now, with the addition of Universal artists, users will be able to add in tracks from Adele, Kanye West, Taylor Swift and many more, without fear of their videos being taken down due to copyright infringement.
It’s also not clear how the agreement might extend to brand content. While, in theory, brand usage would be covered under any such deal, you’d also expect the artists themselves to have, or would want to have, some level of veto power over the businesses and organizations which use their music. As such, it’s likely that the offering will be limited to personal profiles right now - though Facebook’s no doubt built qualifiers into the deal which would cover extended licensing in future.
Interestingly, as part of the announcement, Facebook and Universal point to new music products and offerings, which could open up a range of possibilities.
“Going forward, the companies will experiment hand-in-hand to introduce new music-based products to Facebook’s platforms, including Messenger, with the goal of catalyzing innovation to develop the next generation of music products that best engage social consumers.”
There’s a range of ways Facebook could introduce new music features – and worth noting here that YouTube is one of the biggest music services in the world, with many people coming to the platform purely to listen to tracks (they even have a music-only mode built into their subscription service YouTube Red). Facebook could be looking to tap into similar opportunities – while on a related note, YouTube’s also signed new music sharing deals with both Universal and Sony earlier this week, showing that the major labels are looking to adapt to audience behaviour and create new opportunities for themselves and their artists.
But the big focus, given that the announcement has come so close to the launch of Facebook’s ‘Sound Collection’, is the possibilities for music which users can add to their videos, which will definitely add value.
While providing the capacity for everyone to share their own videos, and broadcast their lives, is great, the truth is that creating compelling, interesting video content is difficult.
As noted by former Facebook Live manager Vadim Lavrusik recently:
What HQ Trivia figured out is that realtime video isn't the killer app, but compelling realtime content is. https://t.co/0JmoejrVLm— Vadim Lavrusik (@Lavrusik) December 19, 2017
The same has been noted by failed live-streaming platforms Blab and Meerkat – it’s not simply the platform that provides value, the onus is on the content creators to share something interesting in order to bring repeat viewers back.
The ability to easily, and freely, add music will help in this regard. While it may not be a huge boost for live content (though there are obviously opportunities there also), it will provide new ways for users to create better, more compelling video content - which, in turn, will help Facebook provide a better video experience.
This will be key as they look to maximize usage of their Watch video platform in 2018 – the capacity for users to add in popular music could help Facebook attract more creators and raise awareness of their video opportunities.
Expect, also, to see new karaoke-inspired products to inspire sharing, similar to how Apple’s new Animoji have sparked their own new trend.
You can imagine similar functionality would fit into Instagram and/or Facebook Stories. Such tools could provide ways for artists to build community around their content, while also giving Facebook more ways to build compelling, interesting new experiences.