vKontakte to offer music and video content with new Merlin deal
Global digital rights agency Merlin has secured a licensing deal for three social networking sites in Russia.
The deal with Russian internet company Mail.ru, will make audio and video content from Merlin’s roster of independent labels available on Mail.ru’s social network and media site vKontakte.
Under the agreement, which was brokered through music content aggregator United Media Agency (UMA), Merlin’s full catalogue of over 20,000 labels will be available on vKontakte as well as Mail.ru’s other social networking websites Odnoklassniki and MyWorld.
vKontakte is leading the push to improve music licensing legitimacy in Russia. In July 2015, the site inked a multi-million dollar licensing deal with Sony. Its deal with Warner followed this April as it made plans to implement a fully-licensed music subscription service by the end of the year, the first of its kind in Russia.
Then in July, as reported inTMN,vKontakte inked an audio and video content licensing deal with Universal Music Group. The deal coincided with the news that the social network was also reinstating its iOS application with a number of improvements to the desktop version of the website.
Mail.Ru’s sites reach approximately 86% of Russian internet users on a monthly basis and the company is in the Top 5 of the world’s largest internet companies.
According to last year’s IFPI report, Russia is the 28th largest recorded music market in the world. With Merlin’s global membership now available through vKontakte, the Russian market is set to capitalise further on an impressive 7% year-on-year music market growth.
Prior to the agreements with Merlin and the majors, vKontakte’s reputation with the music industry was broken down by a history of music piracy and numerous copyright related lawsuits.
With the music industry in Russia gaining positive momentum as a result of exploiting licensed music through social networks, this may have implications for the Western world by further encouraging Facebook to delve into an offering of music related features.
At this stage, Facebook does not offer an integrated music service. However, with a proven record of implementing features that increase user engagement, Facebook may well move in a similar direction in the future.