Facebook fuels its rival, YouTube

The most-shared piece of content on Facebook last year was not a fake news article, Kremlin-connected advert or conspiracy theory about the Pope — topics which have dominated debate over the social network’s place in society. Rather, it was a link to the music video for Despacito, the reggaeton-infused pop song by Luis Fonsi, that was engaged with 22 million times on Facebook in 2017… The problem is that the video redirects Facebook’s 2.2 billion users to the website of YouTube, its largest rival, which has a licence to host it. Facebook, in its quest to become a bigger online video force, has noticed a lot of traffic is going elsewhere. Now, after years of negotiations with music companies, it has signed a spate of licensing deals in the past three months, including agreements with Universal Music Group, the world’s largest label, and Sony/ATV, the sector’s biggest publisher. These deals allow Facebook’s users to share videos with music in the background — such as a fan’s cover version of a hit song, wedding dances or online karaoke. Facebook wants to encourage video on the site and not slap users with takedown notices… The deals mark Facebook’s major step into music, pitting the company more directly up against YouTube, and could potentially bring billions of dollars in payouts for the big music companies… Music has a far lower barrier to entry than long, exclusive videos like those produced by Netflix. 
Anna Nicolaou and Hannah Kuchler