HomeBusinessTwitter discussions over music licensing are said to stall under Elon Musk

Twitter discussions over music licensing are said to stall under Elon Musk

Twitter explored licensing music rights from three major record labels before negotiations stalled following Elon Musk’s takeover of the company, eight people with knowledge of the discussions said, who were not authorized to speak publicly. .

Twitter is one of the last major social media platforms without music licensing agreements in place, allowing sites to host virtually all commercially available audio content without fear of takedown or legal retaliation. Facebook, Instagram and TikTok have made agreements for the music rights.

Twitter had avoided signing music rights agreements, which require social media companies to compensate rights holders when users post or play content featuring a song. Licensing costs can vary, but can exceed $100 million a year for established social media platforms. Twitter has waived license agreements because of costs, five former employees said.

Twitter and Musk did not respond to an email request for comment.

Twitter began negotiations with the three biggest music conglomerates — Universal, Sony and Warner — in the fall of 2021, according to six people close to the talks. When Musk announced his intention to buy the company last April, some music industry leaders saw his involvement as an opportunity to finally close the deal.

“Twitter uses a significant amount of music but, unlike all other major social media platforms, it has refused to license that music or compensate songwriters,” said David Israelite, executive director of the National Association of Music Publishers. , a commercial group, tweeted on Mr. Musk that month. “Please help.”

For music companies, the license agreements with Twitter would represent not only an additional source of revenue, but would also solve long-standing problems of copyright infringement on the platform.

After Musk bought Twitter in October for $44 billion, talks continued as he flirted with the idea of defiant TikTok and resurrecting vinea once popular short video app that Twitter bought in 2012 but closed in 2016.

Mr. Musk’s team was intrigued by the idea of ​​adding music to the platform, and his personal lawyer, Alex Spiro, who has also represented the likes of Jay-Z and Megan Thee Stallion, held meetings to understand the state of record label negotiations and assess costs, said four people familiar with the internal discussions.

Spiro, who oversaw Twitter’s legal portfolio during the Musk acquisition, he left the company in December. he successfully defended Mr. Musk in a Tesla shareholder lawsuit this year.

He internal chaos on Twitter after Musk’s inauguration broke off negotiations, six people said. The company removed some of the people responsible for the music rights talks in several rounds of layoffs, leaving the record labels with few remaining Twitter contacts, said four people from the major music companies who were briefed on the discussions.

Musk’s team has also cut hundreds of millions of dollars in spending at Twitter. missing office rent payments, scam software vendors and removing a data center — while requiring all financial outlays to be justified in accordance with the new budgets. With those mandates, two people said, the company had little means to justify paying tens of millions of dollars to music rights holders.

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