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Facebook planning audio as well as video-based music service

By | Published on Thursday 9 July 2015


Following the rumours last week that Facebook was busy chatting to the major record companies about launching a music service, sources have now told Music Ally a little more about the social network’s musical plans, which previously seemed at best vague.

As expected, Facebook’s move into music will initially be based around video, the social media firm having been moving into YouTube’s territory for sometime now. It’s thought Facebook is looking to match its Google-owned rival on music video content, so to allow both users and rights owners to upload pop promos, with a Content ID style system – probably bought in – to allow labels and publishers to manage and monetise their music.

Facebook is also likely to pitch a royalty system similar to YouTube, though the labels will hope that, once up and running, there might be the option to increase those rates, particularly if the social network’s market-leading targeted-advertising system can be used to increase ad rates, in which rights owners share.

Labels might also be hoping that if there’s a second music video platform on the same scale as YouTube in terms of reach and marketing value, then that might strengthen their negotiating hand with the Google company too.

Despite indications last week that Facebook’s talks with the labels were still at an early stage, Music Ally’s sources say the music video offer could actually go live in the next few months. And more than that, the social network sees a move into music vids as just part one of its musical plan, with an audio streaming service to be added within the Facebook ecosystem down the line. So again, following YouTube’s lead, though Facebook might actually take its audio service out of beta one day.

Given Facebook’s big pockets and past mega-bucks acquisition of tech start ups, this has led to much speculation that the social media firm might simply buy an existing streaming service, with even Spotify being mooted as a possible purchase. Though Music Ally’s sources say the current plan is to build something in-house.

That would make sense if the audio streams needed to work within the Facebook site and app, which they probably would, meaning the tech side would need to be built bespoke. Given label licensing deals with streaming services normally have to be renegotiated after a big acquisition, the only other reasons for buying an existing streaming player would be brand or user-base, but Facebook already has both of those very much in place, especially if the focus of the audio set-up was ad-funded freemium.

So, still much to find out. Though at least this means that when Apple Music falls on its arse and turns out to be the most expensive ever launch of an online radio station, the music rights industry can switch to saying “aha, there’s still Facebook, it’ll be alright in he end, you’ll see!”