When you think music videos - like Beyonce’s smashing Grammys performance - where would you go to watch them? As of now, most of you would have answered YouTube. Right? While YouTube may be the most popular destination for music videos currently, we now see new rivals emerging for the Google-owned video streaming platform - Facebook & Apple.
"Facebook has its sights set on YouTube’s most engaging content - music videos"
We have, in the past, discussed Facebook’s growing video prowess at length. A recent move by the company to introduce mid-roll ads within its videos and share revenues with creators, shook the streaming world, especially YouTube, which has sustained on a very similar business model for over a decade. Afterall, a giant like Facebook with 1.86 billion monthly active users, that’s almost 28% of the world’s population, is a large threat to any business it decides to step into. In this case, it is the business of videos.
As per reports, Facebook has its sights set on YouTube’s most engaging content - music videos. Facebook is known to be wooing music labels, artists, publishers and industry executives for a deal that would let Facebook users include copyright music in their creations, while the owner of the copyright gets a cut for the same. The social network is meeting with label lawyers and will potentially also look to obtain entire music videos from labels as well, eating right into YouTube’s $1 billion ad revenue. But will it be so simple? Can Facebook walk right out the door with a deal in hand into YouTube’s territory?
In Q1 2015, 725 of the 1000 most popular videos on Facebook were stolen from YouTube
While Facebook may be looking for multiple ways to monetise its videos business, it does have a few stones to turn before it can convince music labels to sign up for the platform. For starters, Facebook has to do a mass cleanse of stolen YouTube videos that are already floating in thousands on the platform. In Q1 2015, 725 of the 1000 most popular videos on Facebook were stolen from YouTube. These stolen YouTube videos were natively uploaded on Facebook, amassing around 17 billion in views. If Facebook wants to house music videos on its newsfeeds, the company will have to enforce stricter infringement guidelines and rules to govern video uploads.
Music labels are anyways not too happy with YouTube’s tech for recognising infringement, so Facebook will have to work extra hard to identify copyright music in videos. How it plans to identify such music in each and every video uploaded by content makers is still a mystery.
How Facebook plans to monetise music in user generated videos is also something that is unclear as of now. The platform will certainly not charge its users to license these songs, and streaming giants like Apple Music and Spotify will not be too happy, given that this music will be available to Facebook users for free. In fact, Apple may also be looking to introduce videos to Apple Music, as per statements made by Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue. "It's one of the differentiating factors we can add to Apple Music," he said at Recode's Media Event on Monday.
However, the social media giant seems to be strategizing its moves well, and has been hiring long-term professionals from the music and video space to help it get on track. The company recently hired Tamara Hrivnak, a well-known record executive and former Director of Music Partnerships at YouTube & Google Play. Facebook is also reassuring the music industry that it will have a strict anti-piracy policy and will share ad revenue with stakeholders.
Back in December 2016, big record labels were putting pressure on Facebook to deal with copyright infringement issues. The news was followed by reported comments from sources close to the company that it is in the process of building a copyright tracking tech, similar to YouTube’s ‘Content ID’. Also, since covers of songs by Facebook users are the most popular forms of music videos on the platform, gathering nearly 600 million views as per The National Music Publishers’ Association, Facebook will need a solid licensing deal in place to help publishers earn their dues. Can Facebook or Apple Music become the next YouTube? The answer is something folks over at Google would shudder to think of.