Interesting times for online music. A few months ago I wrote about the likes of Rdio and 7digital, where I work, stepping in to offer serious competition to iTunes. A few months later, in July, Spotify launched in the US and the picture of online music looked complete.
It now turns out that this observation was way too premature, particularly given the events over the last few weeks with both Rdio and Mog offering free music services. Rdio’s free music-streaming service won’t come with advertising whereas MOG’s “FreePlay” option will (exactly like the ‘freemium’ business model which Spotify introduced a few years ago).
Things will get really interesting when – if we can rely on persistent rumours – Facebook will launch its own music platform tomorrow. This platform is likely to enable Facebook users to easily share their favourite music as well as television shows and films, effectively turning a user’s profile page into its personalised entertainment hub.
I know these are still rumours (at the moment anyway) but these are the main things I learned about Facebook’s upcoming venture into (online) music:
- Facebook isn’t doing it alone – With the likes of MOG, Spotify, Rdio, SoundCloud and Deezer all rumoured to be announced as launch partners tomorrow, it’s clear that Facebook won’t be going this one alone. According to the media and technology executives, who claim to be close to the related deals, Facebook has made agreements with a number of media companies to develop a way for a user’s profile page to display whatever entertainment he is consuming on those external services.
- This could be very powerful – Given the audience that Facebook currently has (estimated at more than 700m users) facilitating personal entertainment ‘hubs’ could have a massive impact on the way we consume content and on the positioning of the content industry. Similarly, links that appear on a widget or tab, or as part of a user’s news feed, would point a curious friend directly to the content. Again, it will be interesting to see how this will impact the way in which we consume content (do we end up paying even less for content than a lot of us are doing already?).
Main learning point: will people in the music industry look forward to tomorrow with trepidation, trying to predict what the shape and impact of Facebook’s new music platform is going to be? Facebook’s annual developer conference is always one to appear on may people’s calendars and this year’s “F8” is no exception. I feel, however, that the rumours around the introduction of a new music platform do give the conference an extra dimension and that tomorrow could potentially form the start of a new saga in ‘content land’.
Related links for further learning: