How Mark Zuckerberg Hopes Music Will Prevent Facebook ‘Doing a MySpace’

Facebook Music

Facebook is rumoured to be on the verge of integrating a number of music services including Spotify into its platform.  The ‘when will Facebook take on iTunes’ question is one which refuses to go away, but it’s the wrong question to ask.  Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t want to take on iTunes, in fact he wants to co-exist.  Facebook, as the early-follower of social networking allowed first movers like MySpace to make the mistakes from which it could learn invaluable lessons.  MySpace’s much vaunted but ultimately unsuccessful music service is one such lesson.

Zuckerberg’s music strategy is simple:

Make Facebook an integral part of the music experience without ever getting bogged down in paying to license the music from record labels.

Partnering with Spotify et al fits perfectly into this smart strategy.  Music has always been social but until the advent of social networks we had to rely on our friends and family for recommendations.  In the social age we have a much wider group of taste makers to tap in to.  Similarly we can identify ourselves and our peers by our music on a much larger scale than ever before.

Social media enriches music consumption in a way that was not previously possible.  Zuckerberg gets this and he wants to ensure the process goes further, much further.  He wants social to become the glue that holds the music consumption and discovery experiences together, to such an extent that music companies simply can’t survive without it.  And he wants to do the same for TV, movies and other media too.  Why?  It is the safeguard against Facebook ‘doing a MySpace’.

In its heyday it was hard to imagine that MySpace would ever be anything other than the world’s dominant social network.  Its rapid decline is a sobering reminder that not only is nothing permanent, but also that in the digital world it can tumble with terrifying rapidity.  MySpace failed because it was dispensable.  Thus when the new kid in town arrived the crowds flocked away in their droves.

Facebook is neither invincible nor immortal. Though it is much more deeply embedded than MySpace ever was, all that it needs is something new to do what Facebook does better and more. So in this context making Facebook a core component of 21st century media consumption is a bid at future-proofing it against a world in which mainstream social networking goes elsewhere.

Ironically if the strategy works the music industry may save Facebook but Facebook may do little to save the music industry.  That will only happen if (and hopefully when) the industry starts to truly embrace social music as the foundation stone of a new generation of music products and services.

9 thoughts on “How Mark Zuckerberg Hopes Music Will Prevent Facebook ‘Doing a MySpace’

  1. Pingback: How Mark Zuckerberg Hopes Music Will Prevent Facebook 'Doing a … | my blog

  2. Pingback: How Mark Zuckerberg Hopes Music Will Prevent Facebook ‘Doing a MySpace’ « Music Industry Blog « klangtext blog

  3. Good thought. Don’t forget that My Space became replaceable because Facebook had an aura of being less “ghetto”. The early adopters wanted the aura of the college crowd as well. Perception killed My Space as surely as anything else

  4. One thing that led MySpace down that path however (that looks silly now in retrospect) was that the presence of Bands and music discovery on the site is what made it get early traction in the first place – so they doubled down there. Facebook on the other hand got popular on college campuses without the clutter of music promotion, so it’s not in their DNA the same way it was for MySpace. The music focus – subscriptions, band pages, streaming – weren’t necessarily MySpace’s downfall – their product execution and the lack of speed of improvement on their product and how they delivered these services was.

  5. The irony is that MySpace didn’t recognise the true importance of music to its core value proposition until it was too late. About 2 years ago they should have stopped continuing to try to be a social network and focused instead purely on being a music portal. They didn’t, instead doing both things badly and they lost their last true asset.

  6. I’ve been writing/performing/recording for well over 30 years, and MySpace suffered from interface problems, where Facebook made it easy for all. MS was one of the first with a music player, but past that, not a terribly effective social networking interface. Now that music players are a dime a dozen, with numerous sites for musicians & writers to connect with friends & fans, Facebook (as long as they create a truly simple platform – fair to the artists – and to hell with the record companies), should be a real winner. But if Facebook dosen’t, the next Facebook will!

  7. I think the biggest thing Facebook lacks is discovery. If you know which artist you want to like then great. If you don’t, you’re not going to find them unless you have a hefty dose of serendipity. MySpace was littered with flaws but its portal-like navigation and programming were at least a rudimentary discovery mechanisms. Facebook currently lacks both and is likely to continue to do so. FB is looking to 3rd party app providers to rise to the discovery challenge.

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