Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is talking to music labels, and rumors are building that the firm is going to try to launch its own music service in the coming year. With Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) having just launched its Apple Music this week, it seems that now is the right time for the big tech concerns to get involved in the record business.
Micah Singelton, at The Verge, reported late on Wednesday afternoon that multiple sources had informed the outlet of Facebook’s intention to get into music. Mark Zuckerberg’s firm has held talks with record firms, but beyond that little is known about Facebook’s attempt to get into music.
Facebook turns on the music
Facebook is the only one of the five big consumer tech firms that doesn’t offer any sort of music service. Apple and Google both offer streaming, while Microsoft and Amazon have their own music stores. Facebook’s entry into the music world could be a small add-on, or it might change the unstable map of the music space once more.
With Apple Music finding its way onto more than two hundred million iOS devices in the coming weeks, Facebook may be the only firm that’s able to compete with Apple’s music. Facebook has 1.4bn users and people in the United States spend an average of 40 minutes per day on the site. Even on mobile the firm is able to compete with Tim Cook’s firm.
Facebook has under its belt a wealth of other apps and services. 35% of all mobile time in the US is spent inside the firm’s Golden Circle of Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger. A music app could slide in to that group and become a happy complement to the firm’s future plans.
Facebook music is a play for video
There are several ways in which Facebook may want to get into music, and the most obvious is not streaming. The firm still lags behind YouTube in the number of official music videos on its platform. Those videos are the best attractor of views to the Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) platform and Facebook may want a piece of that action.
In order to get there Facebook will need to get in touch with record companies and set up a revenue sharing model that will let all involved earn their due from the venture. The sources that spoke to The Verge said that the music push from Facebook was, in fact, tied in with the firm’s video platform, but added that Facebook was looking to do something unique.
That rules out a Vevo-like service, but it doesn’t sound like Facebook is going to move into the streaming side of things either. These talks are at an early point, said the sources that spoke to The Verge, so Facebook’s own plans may not be set in stone or may rely on certain terms to be agreed with the record firms.
There is no reason, of course, that a Vevo-like service with the right structure behind it could not work as a streaming service at the same time.
Making music social again
Facebook, and almost every other big tech firm, has failed to make music social in the past, but there seems to be a clear feeling in Silicon Valley that music used to be social, and that the internet can do something in order to get it back to that golden time.
Apple tried to launch Ping in 2010, and it failed, Google Music tried to “really transform purchasing behavior,” with the social features of Google music according to Zahavah Levine, Google’s director of content partnerships for Android, and Facebook itself tried to share music with its “listen with friends” feature.
None of those worked, and music, apart from the few active in parts of the Spotify and SoundCloud worlds, and time spent in an album is still alone time for the most part. Facebook, and the other tech giants, have seen social drive growth in almost every one of their products, and they’re not about to let someone else find out how to share music.
Facebook, with its wealth of data in the way users act on its service and around the web, may be the best firm to get music going, and it could find an ideal home on Messenger, the app that’s becoming the hub of the Facebook experience on mobile.
Messenger to Music
Back at its F8 dev event on March 25 2015, Facebook showed what it hopes will become the center of the mobile device for many of its users. The firm, for the first time, offered those working with its service deep access to the functions of the Messenger app.
This allowed, in demo, all sorts of applications from playing games on the platform to sending messages to businesses about their products. It seems that Facebook wants users to spend less time in other apps and on the web than they do on Facebook apps, despite the huge portion of time the firm already takes from users.
Messenger, with apps already working as simple add-ons, may be able to work as an ad-hoc Music platform. A separate app that would be fixed on Music could be brought into the short message service. That could form a strong part of Facebook’s entry into music.
Robots for Music at Facebook
If Facebook is indeed getting into Music, the firm better have an exciting entry up its sleeve. With Apple Music giving users the chance to get three months of streaming for free and Google now letting users listen to some playlists for free if they listen to ads at the same time, Facebook is behind the curve.
It is clear that no firm has yet figured out music for the new era of mobile, though streaming services are getting better every single day. Google’s free offering, and the Apple service, both rely on the use of machine learning to give users access to what they want without them needing to search for it.
Facebook is ahead of most of its rivals on machine learning, and the firm’s AI may be part of the key that will help to unlock music for a new era. Whether the firm is set to bring out a full streaming service, a Messenger add-on, or a music-video platform, AI will likely form a key part of it.
It’s what Facebook is putting all of its chips behind right now, and it could blow the music world right open. Facebook announced on Wednesday that it would report earnings for the second quarter of the year on June 29. Son’t expect anything new about the firm’s music service then, however. That’s likely to be reserved for a product launch, something Facebook usually does suddenly whenever it feels like it.