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Snap Lands Deals With Top Music Companies to Add Songs to Videos

Lucas Shaw

(Bloomberg) -- Snap Inc. is introducing a new feature that lets customers add music to their posts within Snapchat, creating a way for young people to share songs with friends and a new promotional tool for the music industry.

Snap will roll out a test of the product in New Zealand and Australia starting Monday and plans to release it more widely later this year, according to a spokesperson. The company has secured the rights to music from several major music companies, including Warner Music Group, Universal Music Publishing Group and Merlin.

Millions of people already use social media to share music, either in links to streaming services or videos set to songs. Securing music rights will enable Snapchat users to do so without the risk of violating copyrights or having the videos taken down.

This new feature also allows Snapchat to offer similar features as Instagram and TikTok, two of its biggest rivals and subjects of increased government scrutiny. Snap says it has a larger audience in the U.S. than TikTok or Twitter, reaching 90% of people between the ages of 13 and 24.

“We’re always looking for new ways to give Snapchatters creative tools to express themselves,” the company said in a statement. “Music is a new dimension they can add to their Snaps that help capture feelings and moments they want to share with their real friends.”

After years of not paying for music, social-media companies are lining up to secure the rights. Facebook licensed music in late 2017 and just expanded its deal with music companies to include officially licensed music videos. Twitch and TikTok are also in talks to license music rights from major record companies.

Read more: Facebook finally gets the rights to music videos

The deals represent a significant new source of revenue for music companies, which have long been critical of technology platforms for getting rich off their work. Many social-media apps used music to secure an audience, and many of their most popular videos and memes are set to music.

Social media is also a vital promotional channel for most artists, helping them communicate directly with fans. Many of the biggest hits of the past few years originated on apps such as TikTok and YouTube. With the new feature, Snap users will be able to see the name of the song being used in a video, and follow a link to listen to the full song in streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music.

The prospect of fresh cash and promotion comes at an opportune time. People have been listening to music less during the coronavirus pandemic — partly because they’re not commuting — and the sale of physical media is down.

“Our goal is to enable cutting-edge social tools to bring our artists’ music to Snap’s highly engaged user base,” Oana Ruxandra, the chief digital officer at Warner Music Group, said in a statement.

Snap has explored licensing music before and was once reported to be interested in buying Taylor Swift’s old record label. This new feature is a more modest endeavor, but also more in keeping with its role as a messaging app for friends.

This is just the start of Snap’s music strategy. But it has yet to reach a deal with the record-label arm of Universal Music, the world’s largest, or Sony, owner of the world’s top music publisher.

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