Since she joined Facebook in 2017, Tamara Hrivnak has been on a licensing binge to clear the way for the company’s big music initiatives. Over the course of just a few weeks, she struck deals with Universal and Warner Music Groups, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Merlin, Kobalt, Global Music Rights and a number of European performing rights organizations. Hrivnak is well suited for her job as the company’s head of Music Business Development and Partnerships, bringing vast experience at connecting the digital/social media platforms after eight years at Warner Music Group and several years as the Director of Music Partnerships at YouTube and GooglePlay.
The fruit of her labors began to be announced shortly after she struck those deals, first with a function whereby users can include music in their personal videos, and also a new feature called “Lip Sync Live,” which is testing now in several markets, and (obviously enough) allows users to lip sync songs live, accompanied by camera effects and backgrounds.
At the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) trade association’s Indie Week conference on Tuesday, Hrivnak spoke about the company’s goals for “using music to bring people together” and the relationships it’s building in the industry. She led with a presentation that described the initiatives above, and then sat down for a Q&A with Ingrooves EVP Amy Dietz.
The first question was an obvious one, about the company’s seemingly sudden and forceful move into the music space.
“You’re right, this is a question I get asked all the time,” Hrivnak laughed. “There was a distinct pivot when Facebook became interested in music, and it’s not a coincidence. Mark [Zuckerberg, CEO] has been very open that he sees video as an important part of the future of Facebook, and building the products that are great at connecting people through video is important. Music, film, TV, sports all become more important in world centered around video.
“It’s also worth thinking about, because we live in divisive times,” she continued, “there’s no better moment to bring people together with a bonding force like music than now. We’re excited to be in the music business and be in this conversation.” She emphasized that “Facebook is not just a single music service — we’re a platform and we welcome all comers. Your business is important to us, we build experiences organically and work to make it easy for companies like Apple and Spotify to do their thing.”
She also spoke of the need for a bridge between the tech and music worlds. “I got into this business in the first place because I thought it was unfortunate that tech and music didn’t speak same language,” she said. “At that time, about [15 years ago], Apple was at its very beginning with music. The reality is we needed translators and bridge builders and that’s why I do what I do.
“One thing we need to work on together on is trust — and I don’t say that flippantly,” she continued. “There are good reasons why there is a lack of trust. But it’s really a bi-directional opportunity and challenge to build a more trusting environment to create more together, and we can all work on that.”
She then addressed common ground the two worlds can reach, and dropped the magic word that one hears at all conferences like this one: metadata. “In this unique time where digital has outpaced physical’s decline, many of our processes and systems together still reflect physical world, or at least the legacy of physical world. We need to be building systems and processes, particularly metadata.
“I know that’s the most boring topic,” she laughed, “but it also happens to be most important: If we can identify people’s music well, we can pay artists and writers well. I think we have a lot of work to do together to be great at that. It’s kind of an ‘I’m not it’ topic, but the reality is we all have to work together to improve the metadata around music. All of that flows back to artists and writers in the end.”
She concluded the business portion of the talk — she spoke later about her involvement with MusiCares, the Recording Academy’s charitable wing — with what was essentially an invitation to the industry.
“Facebook has a listening ear to what people want,” she said. “It’s one thing to say you’re a listener, and another to say it and mean it — Facebook means it.
“We’ve essentially said music is new to us — not artist interaction, which has been happening for many years — but bringing music to people on Facebook is new, and we want your help to do it well. We don’t have all the answers — and we want to build the future together with you.
“If you think about what Facebook sees as a future that is video-centric, surely we want you to participate in creating a world like that, where music fits in perfectly. So we’re very excited invite the industry to give us feedback, input and their ideas about how they want to reach people on the platform.”