Buying Music Rights May Be Facebook’s Ticket to Beat YouTube

September 6, 2017 - 2 minutes read

As app developers know, Mark Zuckerberg will not rest until Facebook is a one-stop online media powerhouse. So how is Facebook going to beat YouTube, one of its biggest rivals for our attention spans (not to mention advertising dollars)? In addition to its new video tab Watch, the platform is trying to broker a deal with music publishers so that users can safely upload content featuring copyrighted songs.

By offering record companies and music publishers hundreds of millions of dollars, Facebook is making a strong bid to cut in on YouTube’s supremacy in the online video space. App developers are well aware of what the prize is: billions in advertising dollars. But in order to rake in those sweet ad revenues, Facebook has to ensure that Watch takes off. Fresh off its launch, the new feature is in need of content. Not yet open to the content creators out there in the general public, Watch only features video from Facebook’s media partners (and early reports indicate that a lot of the content is pretty weak). If people are able to post videos with their favorite songs without having to deal with rights issues, they may be more enticed to give Watch a try.

Rumor has it that Facebook may also be making a play for Vevo’s library of music videos. YouTube’s deal with Vevo has been very fruitful, giving users access to more than 200,000 music videos. The deal between YouTube and Vevo is ending this year, giving Facebook a perfect opportunity to scoop. Zuckerberg believes that video is critical to his platform’s growth over the next couple of years. Adding music videos to original content and user-generated videos (featuring the hottest tracks) could make Watch a viable competitor to YouTube. It will be interesting for NYC app developers to see if Watch has wings.

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