All eyes will be on today's Facebook's f8 conference. Its official motto is "Read. Watch. Listen." - and we can expect some important news related to the "listen" component. Music should be a focal point of the day, and executives from Spotify, Clear Channel and Turntable.fm are set to appear on breakout panels.
Here are the specifics on the day's events and the product features expected to be rolled out.
-- The opening keynote starts at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET and will be streamed live right here on Billboard.biz. The keynote will be given by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and he is expected to reveal upcoming changes to Facebook. The most important news for the music industry will be an integration between the platform a variety of music services such as Spotify, MOG, Rdio, Deezer that will result in a feedlike-display of music a user is playing on these services. Similar features with video partners are also widely expected.
-- Here's a clue about the music integration to be unveiled today: a deleted Tweet from the creative director at Facebook said the "listen with your friend" feature will allow Facebook users to listen to music being played by their friends. So when a friend is listening to a track on Rdio, his or her Facebook page will list the track's artist and title, and Facebook will provide one-click access to that song on Rdio (which conveniently announced the upcoming launch of a free version of its subscription service last week).
-- Expect a "major redesign" that incorporates music and video to create some sort of media hub. Also reported to be unveiled today are ecommerce features, new siblings to the "like" button and some sort of news reader.
Don't miss Billboard's FutureSound Conference, taking place November 17-18 at Terra in San Francisco. FutureSound will feature keynotes from the top minds in investment, technology and music today; presentations that will offer specific solutions structured around answering the most pressing questions; and workshops.
-- Four breakout sessions, which apparently will not be streamed live, will take place from 12:30pm to 4:30pm PT (3:30pm to 7:30pm ET). Music will be featured in the "Transforming Industries" track. Appearing on the "Future of Digital Music" panel will be Daniek Ek (CEO Spotify), Bob Pittman (Chairman, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment) and Troy Carter (Founder, Chairman and CEO, Atom Factory and best known as Lady Gaga's manager). Billy Chasen (Co-founder and CEO, Turntable.fm) will appear on the "Mobile + Social" panel. Turntable.fm released an iPhone app last week, by the way.
Is The New Facebook Real-Time Feed Where the Music Will Go?
-- f8 is not just another conference. Case in point: Sean Parker is throwing a party after the conference Thursday evening. The event flyer calls it "A Celebration of Music" and promises conversations with "luminaries from the music industry" including Sean Parker and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. A "killer musical performance" will follow -- artist name not mentioned (although we know who it is -- Billboard.biz will have a report on the party tomorrow). Parker, a co-founder of Napster and investor in Spotify, was an advisor to Facebook and became its first president.
-- Showing the downside of creating a product people love, some Facebook users are protesting the change to the News Feed that rolled out Tuesday. A quick scroll through the 4,200-plus comments on the blog post that announced the change shows anger and frustration was immediate - people decided they hate the Top Stories feature before they actually spent any time with it. Aside from the hostile reaction that comes with any change to Facebook, many protesters simply don't like Facebook's algorithm's determining which posts are the most important and should reside at the top of the news feed.
Ironically, Facebook's top stories feed was already implementing the company's EdgeRank algorithm to filter the posts a user is likely to consider to be most important. In any case, it makes you wonder how well Thursday's news will go over with those Facebook users who are obviously so opposed - at least initially - to change.