We already know that Facebook is working on integrating music more directly into the fabric of its social networking service. But a new post from Om Malik at GigaOm sheds a bit more light on how this integration will be presented.
Quick refresher: Facebook is talking to multiple digital music services-including Spotify and at least three other subscription services-about a plan that would allow users of these services to share their listening habits via their Facebook profile. Any song played, playlist created, etc. would appear on a user's Facebook page if they desire. This feature would be shared among friends even if they use different subscription services.
According to GigaOM, here are details on how that will look:
- In the left-hand column, where Facebook lists Photos, Friends, Places, Groups, Deals, Pages, and Games, you will find a new tab called Music. This tab will show up if a user has listened to music with one of Facebook's partner music services.
- Clicking on this new tab will open a page called Music Dashboard.
- The Persistent Playback/Pause Button at the bottom of the Facebook page, where the "chat" icon is currently located, is like a quick snapshot and controller of the music experience. Mouse over it and you can see what is playing on whatever service you might be logged into using Facebook Connect. It also allows you to play or pause a track once you discover it on Facebook. It is also linked to the play buttons in the news feed.
- A page with snapshot of all the songs you have listened to on any specific service, and also your top tracks and the number of times you have listened to those tracks.
The Music Dashboard will have the following features:
1. Music Notifications: here you have notifications that show if your friends have listened to songs recommended by you or on your profile.
2. Recommended Songs: You can get a list of songs heard and recommended by your friends. You can also play them back by clicking the play icon.
3. Top Songs from friends.
4. Top Albums from friends, with cover art.
5. Recent listens from your friends.
6. In the upper-right corner there will be a "happening now" ticker that shows what is happening in your social and musical universe, including songs that your friends are playing. There is some talk that this "Happening Now ticker" would show-up all throughout your music experience and not just on the music dashboard.
These are good details, but a few questions remain. Most importantly: Will there will be some sort of cross-provider interoperability? In other words, would it be possible for a Spotify subscriber to select a song listed in a Rhapsody user's profile and stream it in full using Spotify rather than Rhapsody?
It's likely that feature won't be immediately available when the above options finally go live. But that's fine, as even without it this would be a significant step towards meeting the promise of "social music."
In addition to elevating multiple relatively obscure subscription music services into the mainstream via the power of Facebook's platform, it also opens the door wide open to additional functionality being built for music on Facebook via the robust Facebook app-developer community. There's no reason why all manner of third-party utility apps can't be created on top of these features offered by Facebook, with the developer not having to worry about licensing.
Facebook is also thought to be weeks away from finally offering an iPad version of the service. With the iPad acting as a bridge to living-room stereo equipment and an interactive remote control of sorts for these services, you suddenly have the social power of Facebook integrated with the hardware ecosystem hub of the iPad -- potentially powerful stuff if it all pans out.