Today’s launch of Facebook’s synchronous music listening and chat feature “Listen With” will grow the social network’s time on site and encourage streaming service usage and subscriptions. But another big benefactor will be the musicians themselves. When someone plays a song for a friend, their “Listen With” chat room will display a link back to that artist’s Facebook Page. This will help musicians accrue fans to whom they can publish news feed links to concert tickets, merchandise, and their websites. Driving traffic to these additional revenue streams is crucial since streaming royalties are just a fraction of a cent per listen.
Getting to an artist’s Page was more difficult before. Users first had to hover over an artist’s name in a news feed or Ticker listening activity story, then click on the artist’s name or Like them from a pop-up hovercard. Lots of users wouldn’t know how to do this or wouldn’t go to the trouble.
In Listen With chat rooms, one click to an artist’s name shown each time one of their songs plays will bring you to their Page. When Facebook’s music partnerships launched I wrote about how they weren’t doing enough to help artist gain and retain fans, but that’s no longer the case.
Music simply isn’t a commodity people are willing to pay much for any more. Lucrative $15 physical albums sales are giving way to $1 mp3 downloads, which are will eventually die off in favor of ad-supported or subscription music streaming. An artist and their label receive minuscule royalties from streaming, as little as $0.0016 per listening — not enough for most artists to make a living off of their music alone.
Instead, artist need to diversify their revenue streams, leaning more on tickets, merch, sponsorships, and inclusion in commercials. Facebook Pages give artists a way to market these goods and a quantifiable way to define their popularity to sponsors. Listen With could help turn existing listeners into Facebook fans, and draw Likes from those discovering artists through their friends.