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Facebook headhunts YouTube exec to head up music licensing

By | Published on Monday 30 January 2017


Facebook has hired Tamara Hrivnak from YouTube to work on the social network’s “global music strategy”, as it moves more into those murky safe harbour waters.

I kind of like the fact that Facebook is slowly joining YouTube on the music industry’s hate list. After all, “fucking Facebook” alliterates. And who doesn’t like a bit of alliteration? No one, that’s who. Go on, say it: “fucking Facebook” is much more fun than “fucking YouTube”.

The music industry has been slowly falling out with Facebook, of course, as the social network has shifted ever more into video territory, encouraging users to upload videos galore that often then get prioritised in other users’ feeds. But what if those videos contain music? What about that, hey?

Facebook launched its rival to YouTube’s rights management system Content ID last year, called Rights Manager. But so far, while that system has enabled music rights owners to remove videos uploaded that contain their music without permission, it hasn’t offer labels or publishers the option to monetise their content. You know, like big bad YouTube does.

While Facebook’s video content doesn’t quite compete with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music in the way YouTube does, the music industry has become increasingly tetchy about the social network’s use of music without licence. Though behinds the scenes conversations have been ongoing, and last year Facebook began the search for a new music licensing chief.

To that end it has headhunted Hrivnak who knows a thing or two about the challenges of licensing music on user-upload platforms, partly because of her previous role at music publisher Warner/Chappell, but really from her most recent job as Director Of Music Partnerships at Google Play and fucking YouTube.

Hrivnak confirmed her new gig in a Facebook post, announcing she had been hired to “to lead global music strategy and business development” for the social media giant.

There has been chatter about Facebook moving formally into the music domain for years, gossipers sometimes suggesting that the social network might launch its own full-on streaming service. Though it seems more likely Hrivnak has been hired to find a way to license the music that appears in videos uploaded to its platform, which in itself is no simple task, given that likely means seeking deals similar to those enjoyed by YouTube, which everyone in the music industry hates.

We discuss quite how the music industry’s relationship with Facebook could play out this year in the latest CMU Trends article, ‘Five contenders for music’s enemy number one’.