SoundCloud’s Stephen Bryan headed to YouTube, say sources

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Is outgoing SoundCloud exec Stephen Bryan on his way to YouTube?

MBW is hearing high-level whispers that Bryan, who struck major licensing deals for SoundCloud in his three years at the company, is rejoining his former colleague Lyor Cohen at Google’s video giant.

[UPDATE: He’s going. MBW has heard from further sources, with certainty, that Bryan is moving to YouTube.]

As we reported earlier this week, Bryan (pictured inset) will leave SoundCloud at the end of this month – becoming the fourth high-profile exec to depart the audio streaming service this year.

As Chief Content Officer at SoundCloud, Bryan was instrumental in closing deals with Universal, Sony and Warner – agreements which enabled SoundCloud to launch on-demand streaming tier SoundCloud Go.

YouTube is yet to respond with a comment regarding this story.

Bryan’s arrival at YouTube would come five months after the departure of another former Lyor Cohen colleague, Tamara Hrivnak – who left her role as Director Of Music Partnerships at YouTube and Google Play to join Facebook.

In the press release confirming his departure from SoundCloud, Bryan said: “I’m confident our industry partners are in great hands and I look forward to following SoundCloud’s continued success. I’ll be sharing more regarding my future plans soon.”

There are some obvious parallels between YouTube and SoundCloud: both are predominantly free services, while SoundCloud is – with 175m users – technically the second biggest streaming music service in the world behind Google’s video platform.

There’s also the little matter of ex-WMG exec Bryan’s experience agreeing licensing deals with major labels, who have been outright hostile about YouTube and the ‘value gap’ from its payments in recent years.

Warner Music Group recently inked a new short-term licensing deal with YouTube, but in an internal memo sent out afterwards the company’s CEO, Stephen Cooper, wrote: “We secured the best possible deals under very difficult circumstances. Our new deals are also shorter than usual, giving us more options in the future.

“Nevertheless, our fight to further improve compensation and control for our songwriters and artists continues to be hindered by the leverage that ‘safe harbor’ laws provide YouTube and other user-uploaded services. There’s no getting around the fact that, even if YouTube doesn’t have licenses, our music will still be available but not monetized at all. Under those circumstances, there can be no free-market ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ negotiation.”Music Business Worldwide

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