Faces.com stands apart in social networking

Faces.com is a social networking site from Australia with an emphasis on multimedia sharing. The site has been up for several years but has recently undergone a relaunch. Faces allows users to create their own site (like Myspace) or “widgetize” the data (photos, music, etc.) for placement on other sites.

Uploaded audio files are placed in playlists called TuneFeeds that can be shared with others or played in your profile page. There’s a browser toolbar for adding URLs to your favorites list and otherwise working with your account from off site. Desktop applications are also available for drag and drop bulk uploading and for automatically synching files from selected files with your Faces account. All the desktop apps are Windows only.

What’s most interesting about Faces, beyond its feature set, is the business model. It’s big on multimedia sharing and users are encouraged to upload a lot of pictures and music. Users seeking to exceed the monthly limits on upload (500 MB) and bandwidth (10 GB) can purchase a pro account for $25 per year. And then there are no limits to how much media you can put in your account or your visitors can play from your profile page. There will be advertising placed on profile pages and by audio in between every 4 songs played on free account user pages. The company says it will split graphic ad revenue with pro users and remove audio ads from their playlists. They say they plan on paying royalties to rights holders of the music – though I question how that’s going to happen if I’ve uploaded files myself! The offending music player is pictured here, complete with a title URL (tunefeed.com) that’s just a 404. Update: It turns out that the company is paying a licensing fee to act as a streaming internet radio station and no matter where a music file you uploaded to your profile comes from, they count each time anyone plays it as an instance of that license being used. They are also working on adding a music store that will let listeners purchase songs through Faces.

The seven person company has received a little over $2 million US dollars in private funding to date. Initial funding plus pro accounts plus graphic and audio advertising are where the money is coming from.

Photo editing and mobile upload are said to be pending, both of which would be very cool.