Facebook Music: New Details Emerge in Advance of Thursday's Expected Announcement

1:26 PM PST 09/19/2011 by Antony Bruno, Billboard.biz
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The rumor-mongering over what type of music or media platform Facebook might announce at the forthcoming F8 Developers conference on Thursday.

The rumor-mongering over what type of music or media platform Facebook might announce at the forthcoming F8 Developers conference on Thursday has reached Apple-like proportions, which is only fitting given the potential impact such a service could have on the entire digital media landscape.

Of greatest interest is speculation over which companies may be involved, and on that end several new rumblings emerged over the weekend. Spotify was originally named as the likely partner when news of Facebook's music plans first broke, but as we noted at the time, several other streaming music services had also been contacted about the plan. A Dutch programmer over the weekend blogged about some interesting lines of code he found in that of several digital music services that point to some kind of custom Facebook integration.. Those services include not only Spotify, MOG and Rdio (the three named as likely candidates to date), but also Rhapsody, Soundcloud, Deezer (in France), and Vevo.

What's also interesting about the code is the functionality it may provide. It references a "bridge" of some kind, which points strongly to the belief that Facebook will act as a sort of music interoperability hub between rival music services. The most obvious upshot of that would be that a MOG subscriber, for instance, would be able to post a playlist on his/her Facebook wall, and a subscriber of Rhapsody would be able to play it using Rhapsody.

Aside from making it easier for existing streaming music subscribers to interact with each other and discover new music, it also represents a potential customer acquisition windfall for all. Facebook is the ultimate amplifier of information, with links and updates able to spread between friends and networks at unmeasurable speed.

The hangup of course has always been that non-subscribers could not listen to more than 30 second samples. But Spotify and MOG now have free listening tiers, and Rdio has announced plans to reveal its free tier shortly (likely the same day as the Facebook Music announcement).

But Facebook's plans also go beyond streaming songs. Sources have confirmed to Billboard that other types of music services will be involved as well-specifically, ticketing. Details on this are thin, but it's believed that Facebook will include links to buy concert tickets for any of the artists liked or posted on users walls, perhaps even an update of which artists listed as any users' favorites are about to appear in that users hometown, or even an iLike function that let friends see when other friends have indicated their plans to attend a given show.

Finally, Facebook's media plans are believed to span beyond music, into video, TV and perhaps even film. That could create some interesting synergies between media formats that could benefit things like music discovery (think soundtracks) or music video viewership (Vevo is one of those rumored partners after all).

This will not be the end of the speculation coming out in advance of the Facebook Music launch, but that's what we know so far. We'll update on each new nugget that surfaces between now and the event itself.

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