Facebook took another step towards real-time togetherness on Thursday. Starting today, the social network will help people listen to the same music at the same time. And just like that, the Turntable.fm-style social music experience becomes just another Facebook feature.
We knew this was coming, predicting, " Facebook's Real-Time Group Listening Feature Will Rule," back in September. Heck, we even guessed that the feature would show up in Facebook's somewhat-maligned real-time friend feed on the right side of the page, and we were right (screenshots below).
Facebook says it is rolling this feature out later today, when hovering over the musical notes in the real-time activity feed next to your friends' names as they listen to a Facebook-connected service will reveal a "Listen With [your friend here]" button. The rollout will continue over several weeks to Facebook users all over the world, starting with Spotify and then other services.
Clicking that button will let you listen along with that friend to the same song at the same time. Naturally, you'll be able to chat in real-time with that friend, presumably about the song or the band in question. Friends and "friends of friends" can join up via their activity feeds, and they too enter the chat.
Eventually, you could end up with quite a listening party on your hands, with minimal effort. By comparison, doing the same thing on Google+ requires quite a bit of legwork.
According to Facebook, this new real-time group-listening feature will not only let you listen along with whatever a friend is playing, but also allows one friend to become the DJ for a whole room -- just like Turntable.fm.
Today, with music services on Facebook, there's a new way to listen with friends. This feature lets you listen along with any of your friends who are currently listening to music. You can also listen together in a group while one of your friends plays DJ.
You can listen to the same song, at the exact same time -- so when your favorite vocal part comes in you can experience it together, just like when you're jamming out at a performance or dance club.
Well, sort of. You're all still sitting at your own computers; you'll just feel less alone.
This is an extension of a trend that began in 2011, when Turntable.fm and other social music apps emerged to spring listeners from their cocoons. When real-time group listening becomes a standard feature for hundreds of millions of Facebook users, as will start to happen later today, the concept of listening to music "together" in various locations will become mainstream.
That can only be good news for recording artists and the music industry in general. Although artists and labels receive only microscopic payments from services like Spotify, MOG, Rhapsody, and Rdio each time their songs are played, a feature like this should convince many more people to listen to music -- and that should help those tiny payments add up faster. In addition, all of that listening means that users will hit their free music ceilings faster (on Spotify, MOG, Rhapsody, and Rdio), and be more likely to become paying customers ($5/month on a computer or $10/month on a smartphone).
This appears to be good news for Facebook, online music services, fans, and bands. It looks to be that rare bit of digital music news that represents a win for all stakeholders.
Because we can't resist... here's what we predicted:
And here's what Facebook announced: