In its quest to become an alternative to YouTube, Facebook Inc has struck a deal with the popular video site’s loudest critic in the music industry. The social media giant secured licenses to songs from Pharrell and Drake through a deal with Global Music Rights, an organization led by Irving Azoff. The veteran agent and label executive has hammered YouTube, the most popular place online to stream songs, for not doing enough to share revenue with artists and songwriters.
After a couple years of pursuing rights to music, Facebook has announced a series of deals in just a few weeks, including licensing agreements with the world’s biggest label, Universal Music Group, and the top publishing company, Sony/ATV Music Publishing. The company announced licenses from four different groups in a blog post Thursday – Kobalt Music Publishing, SESAC, HFA/Rumblefish and GMR.
For Facebook users, the deal means they will no longer have some videos, such as clips of wedding dances, taken down because of the snippets of music being played. That could help the social network make itself more of a destination for user-uploaded video, making it a stronger competitor against YouTube and providing a counterweight for the music industry in negotiations with Google-owned video site.
Facebook still lacks a full complement of music rights, which are fragmented. Some of the deals announced Thursday are with performing rights organizations, which represent songs performed publicly – on the radio or in bars – while others are with publisher, which represents another set of rights for songwriters.