Twitter music licensing talks are said to be stalling under Elon Musk

Twitter music licensing talks are said to be stalling under Elon Musk

Twitter music licensing talks are said to be stalling under Elon Musk

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Twitter explored licensing music rights from three major labels before negotiations bogged down after Elon Musk took over the company, eight people with knowledge of the talks, who were not authorized to comment, said. speak out publicly.


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

Twitter had avoided signing music rights deals, which require social media companies to compensate rights holders when users post or listen to content with a song. Licensing costs can vary, but can be well over $100 million per year for established social media platforms. Twitter backed out of licensing deals due to cost, five former employees said.

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

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

“Twitter uses a significant amount of music, but unlike all other mainstream social media platforms, it has refused to license this music or compensate songwriters,” said David Israelite, CEO of Twitter. the National Music Publishers’ Association, a trade group, tweeted to Mr. Musk that month. “Please help me.”

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

After Mr. Musk bought Twitter in October for $44 billion, talks continued as he flirted with the idea of difficult tiktok and resurrecting Vine, a once-popular short-video app that Twitter bought in 2012 but shut down in 2016.

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

Mr. Spiro, who oversaw Twitter’s legal portfolio when it acquired Mr. Musk, left the company in December. He successfully defended Mr. Musk in a Tesla shareholder lawsuit this year.

The internal chaos on Twitter after Mr Musk’s takeover disrupted negotiations, six people said. The company has eliminated some of the people responsible for the music rights talks in several rounds of layoffs, leaving the labels with few Twitter contacts remaining, said four people from major music companies who were briefed on the talks.

Mr Musk’s team also cut hundreds of millions of dollars in spending at Twitter – missing office rent payments, short-term software vendors and eliminating a data center – while demanding that every financial outlay be justified in the context of new budgets. With those warrants, two people said, the company had little to justify paying tens of millions of dollars to music rights holders.


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