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Facebook signs deals with Kobalt, SESAC and GMR

By | Published on Friday 12 January 2018

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Kobalt, Global Music Rights and SESAC have all joined the Facebook licensing party And why not? It’s a fun party to be involved in. I hear the sausage rolls are particularly fine. You just have to tolerate Mark Zuckerburg constantly banging on about how he’s changing the way your news feed works because he’s worried about your health and wellbeing. But I’m assured it’s totally fine to just respond “fuck off Zuckerburg”. And, somewhat ironically, research shows that if you shout that straight into his face, it’s quite good for your health and wellbeing.

So, yes, following the news that Universal Music and Sony/ATV have both signed licensing deals with Facebook, now Kobalt and collecting societies Global Music Rights and SESAC are also on board. This flurry of deals follows lengthy negotiations throughout 2017 between Facebook and the music companies to finally license all the music that routinely appears in videos posted to the social network.

Welcoming his company’s shiny and fresh Facebook deal, and the new revenue it should generate for his firm’s songwriters, Kobalt chief Willard Ahdritz said: “In the spirit of a true partnership, Facebook will ensure songwriters are paid fairly and new revenue streams are created for user uploaded video. We look forward to working closely with Facebook throughout our partnership. And Kobalt is committed to distributing royalties in a fully transparent way”.

Irving Azoff was in no small part motivated to set up his boutique performing rights organisation GMR after becoming pissed off about the royalties songwriters were receiving from YouTube. Although Facebook’s shift into video has made it more YouTube-like, he seems happier with the royalties the former is proposing to pay. He declared yesterday that: “Our partnership with Facebook reflects that when music is valued properly, it’s easy for both sides to view it as a win-win”.

The SESAC deal is actually specifically with the company’s mechanical rights business the Harry Fox Agency and its micro-licensing unit Rumblefish, which has long offered YouTube monetisation services for rights owners in the US. On that specific deal, Facebook’s Scott Sellwood said: “Rumblefish will also help Facebook optimise the identification and clearance of musical works through an innovative data-sharing agreement. This partnership with HFA/Rumblefish and an opt-in for independent publishers opens as of today”.

Finally, the host of this party, Facebook’s Head Of Music Business Development And Partnerships Tamara Hrivnak, had this to say: “Facebook’s mission and music share something special – at their core, they both bring people together, enable stories and emotions to be shared, and forge bonds. Together, Facebook and the music industry are bringing the songs you love into the way you express yourself on Facebook, Instagram, Oculus and Messenger. This means more ways to share, connect, find your fans and be your favourite artist’s biggest and best groupie”.

Lovely stuff. With Hrivnak convinced that Facebook and music “share something special”, and Zuckerburg obsessed about your health and wellbeing, how long will it be before’ the social media monolith sets up a Nordoff Robbins-style charity to promote ‘Facebook therapy’? That’s the future people. And the future’s bleak.



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