What on earth is Zuckerberg planning to do in music?
Facebook have just hired another big name music industry executive, again poaching a main player from Warner Music Group.
Perry Bashkoff — ex-SVP, Global Content & Revenue Development at WMG in New York — has just joined the growing music team at Facebook.
Fellow WMGer Jeremy Sirota — formerly SVP Head of Business and Legal Affairs for Warner’s WEA and ADA divisions — was poached by Facebook last month, and is now charged with label music business development.
In January, Facebook hired former WMG and YouTube exec Tamara Hrivnak as Music Business Development and Partnerships Manager. Other hirings within the past year include a Legal Director, Music Licensing, and a North America Music Publishing Business Development Lead.
As Lars Brandle noted in March, the company isn’t hiring A&R staff. “Facebook isn’t building a fourth ‘major’ record company”, he wrote. “And why would it? The social media giant has never been in the business of content creation; it’s not about to mess with the formula and launch a rival to Universal, Warner Music and Sony Music.”
If it didn’t before, it’s beginning to look a lot like Facebook are planning a streaming service.
Whether or not this is a stand-alone service that leverages Facebook’s monolithic reach — which is closing in on two billion people — in order to launch and promote, or part of the functionally of Facebook itself remains to be seen. An inbuilt player which interacts and functions within the existing framework of Facebook — with the kind of deep catalogue of music that Spotify currently boasts — may be enough to make a marked dent in Spotify’s market dominance. Especially if they game the algorithm to bury Spotify embeds/links on people’s Facebook walls.
Maybe we’re barking up the wrong tree, though.
This may all be merely part of a larger video play, in which Facebook hopes to be the official home for all music video content, as it positions its player as a YouTube/Netflix hybrid? Or part of their new Facebook For Creatives push, which recently saw a library of a thousand royalty-cleared songs for use in video and other creative pursuits.
It is possible they will begin adding music from major artists to this library, with deals done between music publishers and Facebook. Suppose they strike up a sync deal with a certain artist — let’s say Taylor Swift — where five of her songs are available legally, to be used by anyone, on videos uploaded to Facebook. Taylor and her publishing company get paid, Facebook users can create videos with a famous, world-class soundtrack, and other big name artists quickly fall in line. It could create an entirely different type of sync deal.
Still, its far more likely they are creating a Spotify-killer.
Spotify seems to have an unstoppable dominance on the music streaming world, at the moment, but Facebook is… well Facebook.
After all, there was a time when MySpace seemed too big to topple…
This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.