Facebook Is Set to Finally Get the Rights to Show Music Videos

Facebook Inc. has completed a series of deals for the right to show music videos, according to people familiar with the matter, vaulting the social network into a medium dominated by YouTube.

Partnerships with the three largest music companies -- Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group -- are expected to be announced soon, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Music videos are one of the most popular genres on Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube, and Facebook has long sought the legal rights to allow its billions of users to watch and share them on its platform. Facebook had previously inked deals with rights holders in order to use the audio -- useful when people upload clips that include background music, for example -- but didn’t have permission to show the official videos.

Now, Facebook has approached some artists and music companies about acquiring exclusive rights to some music videos, even if just temporarily, the people said. In some cases, Facebook has said it would be willing to pay the video production costs, and that it would promote the video on its service to increase viewership, they said.

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment.

Facebook has been looking for more ways to increase video consumption on its service, tapping into a promising market. Video advertising is often more lucrative than other types of ads, and video-based rival TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance Ltd., has been gaining users at a rapid clip. At the same time, music video consumption has soared on YouTube during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, Microsoft Corp. announced it would shutter Mixer, its streaming service for gamers, and moved existing partners onto Facebook’s service instead.

On Thursday’s earnings call, Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said the company is trying to expand into video features where creators can build a “community” of fans or supporters, not just gather views. It’s “something that is just a lot harder to do on a YouTube or a Twitch or other products like that,” he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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