Starting Tuesday, Facebook users in select countries can add songs to the videos they share and post; in addition, a new feature called “Lip Sync Live” will allow people to – surprise – lip sync songs live. Plans are also in the works to bring both to more markets in the near future. “Together with the music industry, we are working to enable people around the world to include music in their videos on Facebook, opening up more options for creativity and sharing memories with friends and family,” two of the company’s executives said in a blog post debuting the two new tools.
Such features have been highly anticipated ever since Facebook started striking licensing deals with major publishers and record labels earlier this year. In March, after solidifying “holistic” partnerships with Sony/ATV, Universal and Warner Bros. and essentially snagging the rights to use every mainstream song in existence, the social media giant announced that users could expect to bolster their experiences on the platform with their favorite tracks soon.
Music aficionados will rejoice at the new offerings, as the sharing of music has been sorely shunted aside in the social-media stratosphere since MySpace sputtered out in the late-2000s. The deals also mean that people who play music in Facebook videos won’t have to worry about copyright infringement, which is still a thorny issue with user-generated videos on other sites like YouTube.
But for the music business, Facebook’s new features mean something else: money. While Facebook hasn’t disclosed financial details of its deals with record companies, licensing entire catalogs is a mightily expensive endeavor, churning out substantial royalties for rights-holders. (That’s the reason Spotify, despite being the biggest music-streaming service in the world, still can’t turn a profit.) Warner’s chief digital officer said in March that Warner’s deal with the social media company will “expand the universe of music streaming and create supplementary revenue for artists”; others in the industry have also lauded the potential windfall for artists and other rights-holders.
Facebook’s audience – which, at the latest count, stands at a mighty 2.2 billion active users, easily dwarfing Spotify’s 160 million users or Apple Music’s 40 million users – also represents an immense opportunity for artists to gain exposure. The company’s new lip-syncing feature is expected to be a direct competitor to Musical.ly, a karaoke app that’s proven wildly popular among teenagers; if that takes off, it’ll offer artists another discovery platform upon which to surface their music and draw in more fans.
Facebook hinted in its Tuesday blog post that there is more to come, saying that it will soon start testing options for adding music to Facebook Stories. It’s also working with the music industry to find new ways of injecting music into the “Facebook family of apps” – a genealogy that includes Messenger, Instagram and Oculus as well as the flagship Facebook platform.