Facebook, Google to offer music


Music fans are about to get two new ways to find, sample and buy songs on the net: Google and Facebook are set to introduce new services to their offerings. Google plans to announce a music initiative at an event it will hold at the Capitol Records building in Hollywood 10/28, according to a NY Times story. The service will give users a more efficient way to find, learn about and sample music after they search for info about bands, albums or songs, said the story. To do this, Google has struck deals with streaming music services to let people easily sample music directly from the search engine.

Looks like those services include Lala, Imeem and the MySpace division iLike. Users wanting to sample a song will be presented with a pop-up box from one of the music partners that will play at least a 30-second sample, and in some cases, the whole song. We’re not sure if there are other streaming services on the roster.

Facebook will also take its first step by integrating Lala into its popular gift store, according to a Facebook spokesperson.

Lala’s model, for example, is pretty compelling: It quickly matches the songs on your computer to Lala’s licensed catalog. Songs you already have and playlists you’ve created are instantly added to your Lala collection for free. The number of songs you can add is unlimited. Play and share your music, anywhere on the web. Like Jango and other sites, users can browse friends’ collections, listen to their playlists, and get updates when they add or recommend new music. New music can be purchased at 10 cents per song—quite a bit cheaper than iTunes and Zune. All the MP3s are DRM-free, compatible with iTunes and Windows Media Player.

Currently the Facebook gift store is stocked with playful images like birthday cakes and dogs. People buy these images for a dollar, using 10-cent credits they must purchase with a credit card. Then they can post these graphics to the profile pages of their friends. Over the summer, Facebook began limited tests allowing companies like American Greetings and JibJab, a humor site, to add their virtual wares, like birthday videos, to the gift store. Facebook will gradually roll out the gift store to users in the next few weeks, said the story.

There will be two ways to buy songs: For 10 cents, or one Facebook credit, users can buy Web songs that can be played by the recipient online in perpetuity. Or they can pay full price, probably a dollar or 10 credits, then download the song and transfer it to a music player.

RBR-TVBR observation: This could be fairly devastating to other streaming services that offer instant purchases—especially iTunes. Facebook and Google both command a huge number of eyeballs each day. Adding music listening, purchases and social recommendations into the equation will save the consumer the time and effort of signing onto another service and purchasing there. Where does this leave radio stations and their web applications to purchase music instantly (also iTunes tagging)? Completely out of the equation.