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Kobalt Yanks 700,000 Songs From Facebook and Instagram

Publisher said "fundamental differences" prevented it from reaching a new licensing agreement with Meta

Kobalt announced over the weekend that it is pulling its considerable catalog — encompassing “over 700,000 songs, 30,000 songwriters and 500 publishers” — from Facebook and Instagram.

“As of last night at midnight PDT, Kobalt’s license with Meta expired in the United States,” the publisher wrote in an email obtained by Billboard that was sent to all clients on Saturday morning. Earlier this year, Kobalt said that, “on average,” its writers and producers account for “over 40% of the top 100 songs and albums in both the U.S. and the U.K.”

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Kobalt’s email went on to note that “we’ve worked diligently and in good faith to come to an agreement covering a new license” with Meta.

“Unfortunately,” the message continued, “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.”

Facebook struck its first licensing deal with a major music company, Universal Music Group, at the end of 2017. Soon other prominent companies announced similar deals. While label and publishing agreements with streaming services like Spotify involve sharing in revenue, agreements with companies like Meta typically involve up-front payments that cover the use of music for a set time period.

Kobalt’s decision to pull its music off Facebook and Instagram, at least for now, comes in the midst of a flurry of Meta-released music news. Last week (July 22), Epidemic Sound sued Meta for $142 million, accusing it of “the theft of music created by hundreds of musicians, songwriters, producers and vocalists.” A few days later, Meta rolled out new revenue sharing tools, which allow creators and music rights holders to earn some money from the use of licensed songs in videos that exceed 60 seconds.

Facebook and Instagram are obviously massive platforms that can help songs find a new audience. It’s no surprise, then, that even as Kobalt announced its plan to remove hundreds of thousands of songs from the service — surely a logistical headache — the company left the door open for an agreement in the future. “We’ve always stood for songwriters first, and we’re proud to continue to do so,” the company wrote in its email to clients. “We remain fully committed to reaching an agreement with Meta.”

A spokesperson for Meta did not immediately respond to request for comment.