Facebook and Sony/ATV Music Publishing agreed to a content licensing deal that will see the world's largest social media network pay for ensuring its users are allowed to post music from a wide variety of famous artists such as Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Alicia Keys, Calvin Harris, and Akon. No financial details of the contract have been disclosed, though the agreement is understood to be of the medium-term variety and spans multiple years. Facebook opted to license the entirety of Sony's music library which is currently estimated to span over three million songs. The deal also covers Instagram and is structured in a manner that's similar to how YouTube pays royalties to artists, save for an upfront fee paid to Sony, meaning musicians will be compensated based on the amount of traction their creations garner on Facebook. The contract with Sony is similar to the agreement Facebook signed with the Universal Music Group in December.
In practice, the licensing deal should put an end to scenarios in which various clips recorded by users are taken down from Facebook because they contained portions of music copyrighted by Sony. Official Sony-owned music posted on the social network from services like YouTube won't be affected, just like it previously wasn't in the danger of being pulled from Facebook. While the agreement doesn't have an immediate benefit for the Menlo Park, California-based company given how it's unlikely to lead to improved user acquisition and engagement rates, it signals the firm's growing focus on video content seeing how it's minimizing the chances of user-created clips being taken down based on intellectual property protection laws. With Facebook being amid a major video push as part of a bid to compete with YouTube, a music licensing deal with an industry giant like Sony is likely to indirectly support such efforts.
The company has yet to win the rights to serve music by itself but that appears to be near the top of the list of its content-related goals. The deals with Universal and Sony are likely worth at least several hundred millions of dollars and may also reflect on the Portal, Facebook's rumored screen-equipped speaker that's expected to be commercialized in the second half of the year and boast a major focus on content streaming and video calls.