SESAC Acquires YouTube Music Monetization/Licensing Service Rumblefish

International performing rights organization SESAC has changed strategy over the past few months as it attempts to play a bigger role in the music industry, and it seems the company has revealed its first hand by announcing the acquisition of YouTube music monetization and licensing company Rumblefish.

Rumblefish, which is based in Portland, OR licenses music for use in videos posted to YouTube and other video sharing services such as Vimeo. It stands as one of the largest online music licensing partners, and was one of the first companies outside of traditional YouTube Multi-Channel Networks (MCNs) to actively pursue a business model  based on YouTube’s ContentID system.

This gave the company a poor reputation among creators when they first started, as they were widely seen as “ContentID Trolls” when YouTube’s ContentID system incorrectly matched their music to videos that did not contain songs from their library; including one video that just had ambient birdsong as a video maker picked a wild salad. The company was also criticized for its handling of such incidents in the past. However, improvements to YouTube’s ContentID system have mostly fixed this issue, and Rumblefish now sells almost 50,000 licenses every day of it’s library of over 5 million songs.

The deal actually closed almost a year ago, but SESAC kept it under wraps until their announcement last week. The acquisition price was not shared, but sources close to the deal suggest it was between $20-30 million.

Rumblefish will become an independently operated subsidiary of SESAC, with their 30-employees remaining at their current office while SESAC invests heavily in the company’s growth.

In the face of mounting pressure from ASCAP and BMI, the two largest performing rights organizations in the U.S., SESAC has tried to diversify for some time and it looks like they are finally taking their first steps to become a leader in the growing field of online video music licensing.

Stephen Doble

From his London office, Stephen leads our new media industry coverage at Videoter.

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