Mail.Ru Group, United Music Agency (UMA) and Universal Music Group (UMG) announced today that they have reached an agreement to license UMG’s audio and video content for use on Mail.ru Group’s online platforms. With this agreement, Mail.Ru Group now has partnership agreements in place with the three leading international music rights holders – UMG, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment.
The deals provide the social network users of VKontakte, Odnoklassniki and My World with access to licensed recordings from the world’s leading music companies. UMA, which specialises in licensing media content and has contracts with major rights holders, secured the agreements.
In connection with today’s announcement, VKontakte and Universal Music have reached an amicable settlement of outstanding litigation issues. VKontakte previously concluded settlements with Sony Music and Warner Music.
As part of the co-operation between Mail.Ru Group and the major music companies, the Group’s social networks will test various monetisation models jointly with other market players to find the best solution for both artists and fans. The agreements apply to music and video content owned by the rights holders.
VKontakte’s music playback function will return to the iOS app and a number of improvements will be made to the desktop version of the website. A separate application will be developed in partnership with UMA for a range of other functions.
Dmitry Grishin, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mail.Ru Group, commented: “Our partnership with the leading rights holders will take the Russian music market to a whole new level and allow us to offer users the best music from around the world through existing and new digital products.”
Boris Dobrodeyev, CEO, VKontakte, added: “Following extensive negotiations, we have agreed terms with all of the major music rights holders, enabling us to draw a line under this process. This is a historic moment and a new milestone in VKontakte’s history. Our constructive and mutually beneficial collaboration has put an end to earlier disputes with the record companies. Following the removal of legal barriers, we can now create new products based on VKontakte’s music service that users will value.”
Oleg Butenko, Founder, UMA, said: “Thanks to the agreement between UMA, Mail.Ru Group and the major recording companies, social network users will be able to access their favourite music. In addition, UMA will launch a separate application for music fans.”
Adrian Cheesley, Senior Vice President, Universal Music Group stated: "Music has tremendous value and we’re gratified to reach a commercial agreement that ensures UMG’s artists are fairly compensated for the use of their music. Russia is an important, and growing, market for UMG and with this important step we’re looking forward to developing more local artists, investing in growing the music scene and broadly licensing services.”
Adam Granite, President, Northern & Eastern Europe and Africa, Sony Music International, said: “Russia is a music market with tremendous opportunities. Through the signing of our agreement, we are pleased to be working with Mail.Ru Group and UMA to provide Russian fans with licensed music via services that compensate recording artists and make their work available in appealing new ways via the country’s largest social networks.”
Stu Bergen, CEO, International and Global Commercial Services, Warner Music Group, commented: “We see enormous growth potential for our business in Russia and opportunities for further investment in Russian artists when performers and rights holders receive fair compensation. These agreements represent significant progress towards a properly functioning market.”
Note to editors
Mail.Ru Group, which operates internationally under the My.com brand (MAIL:LI, listed on 5 November 2010, founded in 1998), is one of the largest internet companies in Europe and ranks number one in the world by the average time spent on its websites by each user (comScore 100, April 2016).
As part of its “communitainment” strategy, Mail.Ru Group is developing an integrated communications and entertainment online platform. The company owns the leading e-mail provider and Mail.ru, one of the most popular websites in the Russian internet; VKontakte, Odnoklassniki and My World, the top Russian-language social networks; Agent Mail.Ru and ICQ, two messengers that are widely used in Russia and the CIS; as well as a portfolio of some of the leading online games.
In November 2013, the company launched My.com, a start-up, in the USA, Europe and other international markets. As part of the “communitainment” development strategy, My.com is creating an integrated communications and entertainment online platform for international audiences, including the myMail e-mail service and apps, and the myGames and MAPS.ME apps.
In addition, Mail.Ru Group holds minority stakes in a range of internet companies in Russia, Ukraine and Israel, as well as a stake in Qiwi (1.31%).
Mail.Ru Group is carrying out extensive work to develop IT education in Russia. Every year, the company holds the Russian Code Cup international competition for programmers, the Technology Forum, and actively partners with university departments.
United Media Agency (UMA) is a content aggregator and distributor for internet and mobile audiences, a developer of internet solutions and a service provider. The company licenses audio and video music content and distributes it online through its partners and its own products. UMA is a longstanding partner of Mail.Ru Group.
Universal Music Group
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Sony Music Entertainment
Warner Music Group