Facebook isn’t in the music streaming business yet, but it sure looks like it’s going that way. The platform recently signed another music licensing deal, this time with ICE Services, which is a licensing group and copyright database that represents PRS in the UK, STIM in Sweden and GEMA in Germany. The deal covers not only Facebook, but Instagram, Oculus and Messenger as well. WhatsApp is not included as it’s considered a private messenger app, at least at the moment. ICE represents around 31 million works of 290,000 rights holders covering 160 territories.
Facebook has done several other music licensing deals over the last year, including agreements with Universal Music Group, Sony/ATV, Kobalt, HFA/Rumblefish and Global Music Rights. These deals cover any music that might be used in user generated videos uploaded to Facebook, Instagram, Oculus and Messenger, but also provides a catalog of music that users can add to their videos as well.
That said, there is much speculation that these licenses are a pretense for something more extensive, meaning a music streaming service on par with Spotify or Apple Music. Facebook already has 2.1 billion registered users worldwide (1.4 billion are daily users) and it’s not a reach to think that the company can make many of those users pay for a music product as well. After all, just a 1% conversion rate is still way more than all the music streaming platforms have combined in registered users.
Then again, Apple had 850 million customers with credit cards on file and it’s still only managed to convert around 35 million of them into Apple Music paying customers so far, so having an energized daily user base doesn’t necessarily mean that it will pay for something that it’s either used to already getting for free or from another source.
Still, you can see the writing on the wall, so it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see Facebook in the music business in a much bigger way in the near future.