So it finally happened – Facebook set up a licensing deal with Universal Music and I’m sure that licensing deals with the other majors are soon to follow. They are going to finally get what they want , and if they really want have us all by the balls. This is going to make for a very interesting future ofr the music industry and I wanted to take some time to get the obligatory think piece in to share my two cents of what I think is going to end up shaking out with this whole thing and what the next steps are going to be for us to develop in an industry that seems to be increasingly dominated by a few major players and then the rest of us sort of muddling along and trying to find a path in an industry that is so often just very emotionally trying. So in the spirit of grabbing the music world by the balls lets sit down and discuss what could happen next with this whole thing and how screwed we might end up being if it really goes south.
First off I want to go on the record and say that I think this is going to be a good thing for independent artists at least initially. The problem I’ve had with Facebook for a long time is that even as they are becoming the biggest video service in the world they, until today, were not paying the artists anything for their content. This was a huge legal issue and I am legitimately grateful for this. It means that any artist with even a little bit of distribution through the Orchard or one of the other majors is going to be able to start seeing a lot more money and given Facebooks nature for songs to go viral I think this is going to be helpful. That being said I could see this quickly becoming the same sort of thing that makes Spotify so frustrating inasmuch as it’s going to quickly become a place where the rich get richer. But I also think that we are going to see new plans of attack for content that could become very important.
It’s also going to mean that a lot more artists are going to be taking Facebook seriously, putting more content on the site and even using it to migrate away from Youtube. There aren’t a ton of full music videos featured exclusively on Facebook yet, but that’s all about to change. It’s also going to lead to some very interesting battles between Youtube and Facebook for your content. What it could realistically mean is that Facebook or Youtube start trawling each others databases and deprioritizing content if it gets featured by competitors. This could rapidly lead to a sort of clusterfuck that I think Facebook will inevitably win – simply because it is better suited for that kind of content. After all – people check Facebook every day, not everyone is checking Youtube every day. That being said I also think that a winner is going to need to be declared early simply because people aren’t going to want to have two separate platforms for music videos.
As we’re delving into the world of content hubs I think it’s also important to realize that music is going to start being released in new and weird ways and featured on Facebook videos in ways that none of us expect. While the extent of the tracking technology Facebook will be using hasn’t been released yet I think we can tell that there is going to be a pretty substantive forward momentum for monetizing your Facebook content in weird and new ways. If this leads to even more ads on Facebook though I could see this becoming problematic. That’s why I think I need to predict a grim reality. Your music is going to get more shared the more you sponsor it, which in turn leads to you getting a minor payout. Think about that. For a 1% return on investment artists will think they are doing the smart thing. That’s pretty clever right? Suddenly we are paying the people who are supposed to be paying us. I doubt even the Taylor Swifts of the world are going to actually make money on this.
So think about that now – suddenly even monetization costs a ton of money in the most ridiculous way possible. This of course is going to lead to a higher prioritization of the live market. Of course that’s not really doable either because people are going ot be even deeper in their phones which is going to create even more of a clusterfuck. Just think about that. Think about how screwed we are. Live music is going to start dying with the younger generation and then it’s going to get even worse for people trying to make a living with music online. That’s a really absurd reality and the sort of dystopian nightmare that I don’t think we ever expected for the industry. So yes music will be more present than ever, but if no one is going to see it live and the online monetization is just a weird nightmare – who will care? In my eyes there is certainly hope for the live market, but it could be very dangerous if we don’t crack that youngest demographic.
Maybe I’m just being alarmist- there certainly are ways that this is going to be a major help for the music world and key ways that this can help artists. This is something that needed to happen if we wanted to get anywhere and viral content is going to remain essential to this whole thing. That being said I could also see this becoming a super fucked up nightmare chainwheel that there is no breaking free of. While I’m curious to see how this plays out the trend of corporations sucking up more and more money from this sort of stuff has me on edge – best of luck to all of you, because this is, for better or for worse, a brave new world.