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Label Meetings Bolster Rumours of Facebook's Music Machinations

If Facebook's recent moments have clarified anything, it's that user engagement is right at the tip-top of their priority list. From the Instant Articles feature to the addition of photo editing functionality to the app version of the platform, the aim is to encourage users to do everything in-house. Now, just to add a little grist to the rumor mill, they've started meeting with record label execs.

The Verge have reported that Facebook have met with representatives from Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Entertainment Music. The question is, why? There's no concrete answer at this point, only speculation. Facebook have been integrating music into their platform more or less from the beginning, the fan pages and event listings make it the easiest place online for artists to promote gigs and album launches and their turntable.fm feature enables users to listen to the same thing as their friends, but these meetings suggest something much more ambitious is going on.

Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that Facebook are considering introducing their own streaming service. Would that be a worthwhile investment? On the face of it, yes. While I'm perfectly happy to keep my colossal iTunes library on tick-over while I'm checking my news feed, many people would jump at the idea of having their stream right there in front of them without having to tab out. Moreover, it would make it much easier for people to see what everyone else is listening to and even jump into a playlist at the exact same point as one of their friends. Music sharing groups are big on Facebook, I'm in a few of them myself, so introducing some sort of system which would take them beyond merely a hub for posting YouTube links would be vastly popular.

There would be some issues to work out, and Facebook would benefit from looking to sites like Soundcloud for guidance. On Soundcloud you can start playing through tracks on your feed, or find a mix and once they start playing, you can navigate anywhere else on the site without interrupting the music, as well as having a little player bar at the bottom of the screen in case you do want to change. Facebook requires so much scrolling and jumping around that I can't see a way a streaming service would work on the platform without a feature like this.

This is, of course, if that's what is actually being planned. The other suggestion is that they are looking to increase their grip on video ad revenue, as they gradually gain ground on YouTube for viewing figures. Facebook's daily video views recently shot up from 1 billion to about 4 billion. It's still a ways off from YouTube, who get upwards of 7 billion, but it's closer than anyone has gotten in a long time. Securing exclusive track or music video rights could end up being Facebook's killer app, if that's what they're angling after.

Between the two, a streaming service is definitely the more enticing prospect, especially given that Facebook tend to avoid charging money for any quotient of their service. They would probably have to charge something for streaming, but it's a fair assumption that it would be a lot more reasonable than Tidal or even Spotify. Facebook remain the only tech giant who haven't gotten in on the streaming act as yet, and with the largest user-base of any platform in the world, they could majorly shake things up if they decide to move in that direction.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Label Meetings Bolster Rumours of Facebook's Music Machinations Reviewed by Unknown on Sunday, July 05, 2015 Rating: 5

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