Kobalt, one of the world’s largest music publishers, has removed its entire 700,000-song catalog from Facebook and Instagram in the United States, a rep for the company confirms to Variety.
The company’s U.S. licensing contract with Meta, parent of the two social-media giants, has expired and the two parties have failed to reach a new deal. Kobalt administers songs by such artists as Paul McCartney, Elvis Presley, the Weeknd, Foo Fighters, Childish Gambino, Billie Eilish cowriter Finneas, the Chicks, Dierks Bentley, Beck and many others. The news was first reported by Music Business Worldwide.
According to an email sent by Kobalt to songwriters, “Over the course of several months, we’ve worked diligently and in good faith to come to an agreement covering a new license for Kobalt’s repertoire. Unfortunately, fundamental differences remained that we were not able to resolve in your best interests, and as a result Kobalt’s repertoire is in the process of being removed from Meta’s services, including Facebook and Instagram, in the United States. We’ve always stood for songwriters first, and we’re proud to continue to do so. We remain fully committed to reaching an agreement with Meta.” The accuracy of the email was confirmed by a rep for the company.
The move has strong ramifications, as Kobalt is one of the world’s top 5 publishers and often has a larger quarterly share of global hits than some of the three majors. The company estimates that it has a share of more than 40% of the top 100 tracks and albums in an average week in both the U.S. and the U.K.
As noted by MBW, the move comes just a few days after another prominent music rights-holder — Sweden’s Epidemic Sound — filed a $142 million lawsuit against Meta in the U.S., claiming that “the unauthorized use” of its works across Facebook and Instagram “is rampant.”
While these situations are customarily resolved relatively amicably in a matter of weeks or months, with both sides continuing to operate under previous terms until new ones are agreed upon, it is rare for two such massive companies to reach this point in such a major music market, let alone the world’s largest. According to its latest “Music in the Air” report, Goldman Sachs estimates that Facebook contributed 29% of all “emerging platform” advertising revenues paid to the recorded-music industry in 2021.