Facebook Agrees To Improve Transparency...In Europe
Facebook Agrees To Improve Transparency...In Europe

Is Facebook Filing a $5 Billion IPO Wednesday?
-- Facebook may file with the SEC on Wednesday to raise $5 billion through an initial public stock offering, according to a report at International Financing Review. A $5 billion IPO is lower than recent predictions but could be increased before the IPO date. Numerous reports put the IPO's valuation of the company at $100 billion.

This is sure to be the business and tech story of the month. Once Facebook files a prospectus with the SEC, outsiders will finally get a glimpse at the company's financial statements. We'll know the company's revenue, operating margin and year-to-year growth. Private companies lack transparency, but companies that seek to raise financing on the public markets must be completely transparent (as much as the law requires them to be).

A Facebook IPO will probably have very little direct bearing on the music industry, however. There is virtually no chance the company will use the proceeds to build its own music service. Instead it will continue to refine its platform and work with entertainment companies (music, video, games) to better incorporate their services into the Facebook experience. The company is sure to release some incredible innovations that will benefit artists, labels, publishers and ticketing companies. But those innovations probably would have happened in the absence of an IPO. What this IPO really means is the company's founders, early employees and financial backers want to cash out and shift financial risk to public shareholders.
(International Financing Review, via Mashable)

Facebook's Dan Rose: 5 Billion Songs Shared Since September
-- Facebook's VP of partnerships Dan Rose told an audience at MIDEM that users in 50 countries have shared more than five billion songs since September.

Those five billion-plus shares were the result of Facebook's partnership, announced at Facebook's f8 conference in September. Spotify, Mog, Rdio, iHeartRadio and other music services integrated with Facebook's Open Graph to allow users' activity to be revealed to their friends. If you play a song on Spotify, for example, your friends will see that activity in their news tickers (unless you have opted out of sharing your listening activity) and your "music" tab.

But keep in mind these five billion songs were not necessarily voluntary shares, and involuntary shares might carry less weight than voluntary shares. Sharing a personal photo is one thing. Sharing a song without actually hitting a "share" button, and without adding commentary for context or personal touch, is something else.

In any case, it appears song sharing has increased since September, based on the number shared by Rose. Facebook revealed on Nov. 8 there had been 1.5 billion songs shared since Sept. 22. On Jan. 30 Rose revealed that the number had grown to five billion. The first 47 days (Sept. 22 to Nov. 18) of music partnerships resulted in 1.5 billion shares -- an average of 31.9 million shares per day. The next 83 days (Nov. 19 to Jan. 30) resulted in an additional 3.5 billion shares (five billion minus 1.5 billion) -- an average of 42.2 million shares per day. These figures could be slightly off based on the time lapsed between a milestone (1.5 billion and five billion) and the announcement of that milestone. Nevertheless, it appears sharing activity has picked up considerably in the last few months.

The hard part is figuring out the value of these five billion shares. First of all, it's all but impossible to guess how many of those shares were actually noticed by recipients. Listening activity shows up in a Facebook user's news ticker, a smallish widget in which various items (this person commented on that, that person liked this) scroll from top to bottom. Miss an activity in real time and it's practically gone for good (although it's possible to scroll through recent ticker activity and look up a friend's recent listening history). It doesn't help that a Facebook page is filled with information. I counted 38 individual information items on my Facebook page (on a modestly sized MacBook Pro screen). You would have to forgive people if they missed a notice that you had listened to a particular song at a particular moment of time.

Facebook has not shared the most important metric: how many times people clicked on a share and listened to a song. After all, discovery is the entire point of sharing listening activity. Facebook has facilitated this process with a one-click solution to stream a shared song (only on the service being used by the friend). It stands to reason some of those five billion shares resulted in incremental listening.

Get ready for even more sharing and discovery on Facebook. The company announced Tuesday that Facebook.com has added game stories in the news feed (it was already available in the Facebook mobile feed) as well as a games unit in Timeline that shows a person's game activity. In this context a "story" is a window that says something like "Glenn Peoples and 14 other people recently played games" followed by a list of games.

Chris Brown Streamed 1 Billion Times on Vevo
-- Chris Brown has reached a milestone of the new music industry: his videos have been streamed 1 billion times on the Vevo platform. Brown's top three videos have been streamed 369 million times. "Look at Me Now" has 146 million streams, "With You" has 131 million streams and "Kiss Kiss" has 92 million streams. The viral hit "JK Wedding Entrance Dance" video that includes the audio to Brown's "Forever" has nearly 73 million views. Fifteen of his videos have surpassed 20 million streams. Most recently, an audio-only video for his new song "Turn Up the Music" has 317,000 streams. His Vevo channel has 608,800 subscribers.
(Vevo blog)

iHeartRadio Streamed 75 Million Listening Hours In December
-- Clear Channel Entertainment's iHeartRadio Internet radio service streamed 75 million listening hours in December, according to the debut "Heartbeats" monthly newsletter. Assuming it also streamed 75 million listening hours in each of October and November, that works out to 225 million listening hours in the last quarter of 2011. That's a good start, and considering the amount of promotion Clear Channel is doing for iHeartRadio its bound to be on a healthy growth trajectory. But iHeartRadio is well behind the market leader. Pandora streamed 2.1 billion -- or 8.3 times as much -- in its fiscal quarter ended Oct. 31, according to the company's earnings release.

OurStage Raises $650K In $10 Million Round of Funding
-- OurStage has raised $650,000 in a $10 million round of funding, according to an SEC filing dated Jan. 25. The filing explains that $300,000 is expected to be used entirely as "compensation to executive officers in their roles as employees." Founded in 2007, OurStage is a platform that gives career opportunities to musicians while involving fans in a variety of ways (discover music or judge competitions, for example). Its partners include the TV show "The Voice," ESPN and Ernie Ball.
(SEC filing)