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Sony/ATV signs on the dotted line with Facebook

By | Published on Tuesday 9 January 2018


Music publisher Sony/ATV yesterday announced it had signed a “groundbreaking” licensing agreement with Facebook. Which is annoying. I’d only just got round to mending the ground after¬†Universal Music broke it by announcing a Facebook deal¬†just before Christmas.

Facebook, of course, has been busy negotiating deals with all the big music companies in a bid to legitimise the music that features in videos uploaded to its platform. As with Universal’s first ever deal with the social media giant, the Sony/ATV arrangement covers music on the main Facebook site, on Instagram, and on the company’s new virtual reality flam film whatnot Oculus.

It’s a multi-territory, multi-year deal that means, says the Sony company, “users will be able to upload and share videos on Facebook, Instagram and Oculus that contain compositions licensed from Sony/ATV’s catalogue as well as personalise their music experiences with songs from the catalogue”.

The Universal Music deal also included song rights, in addition to tracks from the mega-major’s recordings catalogue. While at Universal the one deal covered both sets of music rights, within the Sony empire record company Sony Music and music publisher Sony/ATV are run more autonomously, hence the standalone deal on the publishing side.

Things are generally more complicated when it comes to the digital licensing of song rights, especially outside the US, because publishers don’t normally control all elements of the copyrights that exist in the songs they publish, and therefore accompanying deals with the collecting societies are required. Even inside the US, when direct deals are done between digital services and music publishers, it poses various questions over how songwriters are paid, ie via their publisher or via their society or a combination of the two?

As it is, the music industry’s big new deals with Facebook throw up an assortment of questions for artists, songwriters and their managers. Facebook isn’t launching a conventional streaming service and has ambitions more in line with YouTube, yet it’s no secret that the music companies never liked their YouTube deals. So, how are these new deals working and what does that mean for how artists and songwriters get their share of the loot? New style deals mean new complexities, and even more so on the publishing side.

But hey, at least Sony/ATV boss man Marty Bandier is “THRILLED”. “We are THRILLED that in signing this agreement Facebook recognises the value that music brings to their service”, says he. “And that our songwriters will now benefit from the use of their music on Facebook. We are looking forward to a long and prosperous relationship”.

Speaking for the Facebookers, Tamara Hrivnak was also “THRILLED”. And excited. THRILLED and excited. “We’re excited to work with the largest music publisher in the world to bring amazing songs which deepen connections between friends and fans”, says she. “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”.