Facebook made its big music move towards the end of 2011, launching its new open graph for partners like Spotify, Rhapsody and Deezer to get their users sharing details of every song that they streamed with friends.
So how does the social network see music in 2012, and how else is it working with the industry? Both topics discussed by VP of partnerships Dan Rose in a keynote interview at Midem this afternoon.
He started with a presentation. “For the first time, music is finally available online in the way that it was always meant to be available. It’s social, it’s shared with your friends, it’s discovered through your network of friends and family and colleagues.”
Rose added that he thinks Europe is leading the way forward. “Companies like Spotify and Deezer are pioneering a new way of engaging with music on platforms like Facebook.” He also talked about social games companies Playfish in the UK and Wooga in Germany as key developers for the social network, and reminded the audience that the ‘app economy’ around Facebook is creating jobs across the continent.
Rose also came armed with a slogan: “Make big companies social, and make social companies big”.
He also talked about the historical importance of word-of-mouth in music discovery – “people telling people telling people” – which he said was slow and hard for the music industry to tap into. Fast forward to 2012, where people listen to songs in streaming services, and their friends can then see what they’re listening to in the Facebook news ticker.
“This is word of mouth at scale. This is how the social graph is enabling a whole new form of consumption, and a whole new form of discovery and sharing in the music industry.”
Rose showed off some music apps on Facebook too, such as Ticketmaster’s for helping people to share details of the concerts they’re going to with friends. “Ticketmaster has found that from every single story… they generate an incremental $5 of ticket revenue,” said Rose.
Meanwhile, 5bn songs have been shared on Facebook in more than 50 countries around the world since its open graph launched. More than 20 music services are currently partners for the platform. “If you’re an artist and your content is not already on one of these services, make it available. If you’re not on Facebook, get on the site!”
Over to Billboard’s Bill Werde for an interview segment of the session. What has Facebook learned in the four months since the launch of the open graph?
“There’s a new currency that’s emerging in the music industry, which is how many people have shared a given song or a given artist on Facebook,” he said.
“This currency is going to become a new way that people talk about whether music is blowing up, and we’re just at the beginning of that now, with some of the artists on these services and some of the services that are on the platform.”
Rose said that when Facebook looked at the top 100 songs shared on Facebook at the end of 2011, a lot were the same songs as in the main charts, but a lot of other artists who were more locally popular showed up too. “It’s not just reinforcing the same songs that everybody’s listening to. It’s going to enable new artists and new music to be discovered in a way that has not been possible before, at scale.”
Rose said that Spotify has “done extremely well on our platform”, but also praised Deezer and iHeartRadio for their Facebook integrations. “When you build something great on our platform, it can get very big, very fast.”
How can artists and artist managers better use Facebook in their marketing and engagement with fans? Rose talked about an ad a few years ago for an Eddie Vedder gig in Berkeley, holding it up as a model of good targeting – based on the fact that he had Liked Vedder, and lived within 50 miles of the venue. “That model is really powerful and heavily under-utilised,” he said.
Rose also suggested that Facebook’s new Subscribe and Timeline features are helping artists to use Facebook themselves, rather than delegating page management to managers or digital staff. “They can publish to people as themself, rather than as their page,” he said.