Facebook is now “getting serious about music and media,” writes Om Malik on GigaOm.com, revealing unannounced details regarding the social network’s new ambition to be a place to discover music with friends. The deal involves partnerships with the internationally popular music streaming service Spotify, and possibly other music services, too, currently in talks with Facebook.
Sharing music with friends? Sounds like the final death knell for MySpace, doesn’t it?
Facebook Music Revealed
According to Malik, there will be deep integration of music into the social networking site, including a prominent link on the left-side of the screen alongside other popular destinations like “Photos,” “Friends,” “Places,” “Groups,” “Deals,” “Pages” and “Games.” Clicking the link will open up a music dashboard where users will be able to stream songs from Facebook’s music service partners.
On this page, you’ll see recommended songs from your friends, notifications of which friends listened to your recommendations, top songs and albums among your friends, recent listens from friends and a “happening now” ticker showing real-time information about the music your friends are presently playing.
Also included in the Facebook music roll-out will be a persistent playback and pause button at the bottom of the page, next to the chat icon. When you mouse over the button, you can see what’s playing, and pause or play tracks.
The integrations, as described, sound like an obvious next step for the word’s largest social networking service, as music is often a social experience. But oddly, it’s been an area Facebook has historically avoided. Outside of third-party applications, there has not been a “Facebook Music” experience offered to the site’s over half-a-billion users. That may soon change, it appears, if this report is true.
Killing MySpace at Last, Maybe Even Apple’s Ping
The news comes at a time when Facebook’s one-time competitor, the music-focused MySpace, is struggling to find a buyer. While MySpace’s time has clearly passed, it was, at one time, the place where many people learned about bands, artists, and even recommendations from friends, albeit the latter often through the use of blaring, auto-playing tracks that bombarded you upon visits to a friend’s glitzy profile page. With Facebook, the integration sounds better planned, even subtler in some ways. It’s there for those who want music to be a part of their Facebook experience, but can be safely ignored by those who don’t.
According to Malik, the music service will build on several of Facebook’s core strengths – Facebook Connect, which allows users to log into external services using their Facebook ID and password, the now ubiquitous “like” button which may be used for “liking” shared tracks or bands, and, of course, the connections between friends.
Facebook’s music service has the potential to succeed where Apple’s own version of social music sharing, the iTunes service known as “Ping,” has famously failed. With Facebook integration pulled at the last minute because Apple couldn’t agree to Facebook’s “onerous terms,” Ping, not surprisingly, has failed to gain traction. Social, apparently, was an area where Apple should have realized how critical the Facebook integration truly was – Apple needed Facebook, but it seemed to think it was the other way around.
Now Facebook is stepping in to trounce both Ping and MySpace while avoiding having to deal with record labels itself, a battle it leaves up to its music partners. It’s a formula that will likely work, further solidifying Facebook’s status at the only social network you need, even if what you need is to hear some new music.