With over 570 million active users, Facebook is now one of the most popular websites in the world, and music is a huge part of that popularity. In fact, music-related pages are about a third of the top 20 pages on the site (source: Inside Facebook) and are the fourth most likely to be “liked” (source: HubSpot).

But when it comes to applications on Facebook, we see a giant disconnect. Of the top 50 apps on the site, only 3 of them are music-related (BandPage and Reverbnation, which aggregate hundreds of artist pages) and another one – NightClubCity (excellent and truly social by the way) – is a real-time simulation game, all about managing a nightclub (instead of a farm) with a growing integration of branded virtual goods (Kiss, Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dog…) and personal playlists.

Music’s inability to leverage the power of the Facebook app is currently a critical problem, as these apps are extremely cost-effective ways to drive revenue opportunities (e.g., in-app purchases) as well as increase viral distribution.

So what do the top apps have that music apps don’t? Facebook is about sharing, discovering and connecting. If we look at the top 50 most popular Facebook apps, we can see that those that provide social interactivity – especially gaming apps that incorporate social interactivity – are consistently at the top of the list. If music apps want to compete in the Facebook environment, they need to leverage these same elements – fun apps, apps that connect users, apps that encourage people to share.

In order to get users interested in music apps for Facebook, we have to create music apps that go far beyond just offering a passive listening experience. Instead, we have to offer the element of interaction and challenge that games offer. Moreover, we’ve already seen that people are inclined to “like” music pages because they feel it gives them a certain connection with the artist as well as with other fans, so we should be developing music apps that offer an even deeper connection.

And then there’s the issue of monetisation. Game apps on Facebook have proven so successful at driving micropayments that brick-and-mortar retailers are starting to sell – for real money – gift cards for purchases of virtual goods on the site. If music can adapt and give consumers the social, interactive, fun experience they’re looking for, it too can benefit from this new and growing economy.

Albin Serviant (@albinserviant) is CEO of MXP4 (@mxp4), maker of some of the first ever social music game applications, including David Guetta’s Interactive Music Gaming application on Facebook.

You can find a selection of the most recent articles on Social Music Gaming @ socialmusicgaming.com.

MIDEM hosts the first ever Social Music Gaming panel on Monday Jan 24 (10.00).


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  1. Avatar

    It’s also due to the fact that Facebook is, more or less, a closed system. I feel sites like MySpace and Last.fm had a lot more potential, because they were open and encouraged socialisation on the base of music and similar interests.

    Facebook does not. I don’t really see (passive) music taking off on Facebook any time soon (unless Spotify/YouTube/SoundCloud/Bandcamp, Flattr and Facebook start working together).

    I wrote about this in the comments on this post too: http://www.musicthinktank.com/blog/the-day-spotify-changed-the-world.html (3rd comment is mine)

    I definitely agree with Albin’s vision though.

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    We agree that social/music/gaming is the future, but limiting a solution to the music industry problem has to transcend beyond Facebook. Facebook is hot now, but so was MySpace, Friendster, etc. 12 years ago, Yahoo and AOL were unstoppable, and now no one wants anything to do with them. So you’re dead on about your solution, but executing it through Facebook isn’t the best plan. So what is? Well…stop by our booth at Midem and say “hi”. I think you’re going to like what we’ve built…

  3. Avatar

    Agreed, but Facebook is just one of the nodes out there that can be tapped into. Though it’s a biggie.

    The frequency with which they update their platform policies is a one obstacle, as you need to develop something that can evolve quickly and isn’t too stuck into the policy at the time.

    Music exists across the whole web, and fans interact with bands across many places. Pulling that all together is something we’ve been doing and will be continuing to improve.

    Great post.

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    Facebook does not need nor want music apps or anything musical. The amount of money already generated by a internet site that generates no product is already over-inflated but some kid who has never worked a day in his life. Don’t expect Facebook or any other entity to understand nor care about anything other than making as much money a humanely possible. Music does not enter into social networking per se. People are online for themselves not your hit song that no one has discovered for themselves. Get with it musicians, get out and play!! How much longer are we going to talk about how cruel the internet is? Go out and play, if you’re any good, they’ll come to you!!!

    All the best,

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    Let’s not forget that clearing global music rights is extremely complex and resource intensive. Facebook app development seems to be generally more focused on rapid development, and relatively short term (on a user-by-user basis) user engagement. If an app developer can come up with an idea for an app that will be successful without the additional hassle of having to clear third party rights, they’re likely to develop that instead of a music app.

    That said, it does create an opportunity for the right player that’s willing to take on clearance as part of their model.

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