Today Facebook co-opts the best thing about Myspace pages — rapid music discovery — by prominently adding a “Listen” button to musician Pages right next to the Like button. When clicked, the artist’s jams will start to play in your most frequently used Facebook music streaming app such as Spotify or MOG. If you haven’t authenticated any music apps, Facebook will prompt you to set up the one that’s most popular with your friends, or around the world.
Now with just a single click of an immediately visible button, visitors to Facebook Pages can sample an musician’s sound and decide if they want to “Like” them. The button will help artists get more people to fall in love with their recorded music, and while streaming royalties are small, it could get inspire people to buy high margin t-shirts and concert tickets.
The Listen button has just been rolled out to all musician Pages (try it here on Radiohead’s Page), but will only be available from the web for now. Hopefully a mobile version that fires up your native streaming apps is on the way. Down the line, Facebook could even add a similar “Watch” button to TV show and movie Pages that would launch Hulu or Netflix. While most engagement with Pages happens in the news feed, these buttons could make sure Page visits to media entities actually turn into media consumption.
Depending on what streaming service you use you’ll hear a slightly different playlist. Spotify plays through the five most popular songs of an artist in a row, whereas Rdio starts playing a mix of songs through an artist’s “radio station”. Other apps like Slacker, Earbits, and Deezer are all compatible. I think Spotify has the right idea playing the most popular tracks first, and other apps might do well to put an artist’s best foot forward as well.
Some developers might not be singing along with the latest feature, though. Musician profile apps like BandPage, ReverbNation, and FanRx have classically been the way you listen to music on a artist’s Facebook Page. But those apps are buried under one more click deep through app tiles located directly under the Listen button. In fact, BandPage’s app often labels itself “listen”. Facebook downplayed the threat when I asked, but if someone wants to hear a band right away, they’re likely to click the new Listen buttons and traffic to musician profile apps could suffer.
Overall, this is a smart build-out of Facebook’s music partnerships from f8, and the synchronous “Listen With” feature it added in January. This could make Facebook Pages your first stop when you want to check out a new band. It’s a great experience because now it doesn’t matter what app you or a band prefers. You just go to their Facebook Page, find the Listen button that’s in the same place every time, and crank it up.