Collecting a wide and varied collection of music has radically changed in just a few small years. Before digital music was in widespread use, if a consumer wanted music, he or she had to buy the physical media. That meant buying reams of Compact Discs, Mini Discs, cassette tapes or vinyl albums, providing a space to keep them and of course something to play the media on! Digital media has gradually taken over from physical media and offers many benefits, such as it requires much less space and an easier way to sift through your collect, although there are some drawbacks (just ask Chicago city). However, as more and more of the world are able to be connected to the Internet for twenty four hours of the day, so online music streaming services have taken off: here, the typical business model means that the customer does not own the rights to the music, only to listen to it. Typically, it means the customer must have a connection to the Internet in order to play the music although some services allow music to be downloaded in advance and kept in local storage. Paying a small monthly subscription is a cheap and convenient way to gain access to millions of tracks. The listen-only experience has also been broadened to include music videos, and technologies such as the Google Chromecast make it easy to play music videos on a large, non-smart television straight from your smartphone.
Although Facebook is one of the world’s largest social networks, the underlying business has many other interests including Instagram and WhatsApp. And now it seems that the social network is planning to launch products into the music streaming market in order to compete with YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music and many others. If you were considering subscribing to a music service, there is already a wide choice of services and it appears the choice is going to become even broader. Having greater choice should help bring costs down although a side effect is it can create confusion for customers and potential customers.
There appear to be two legs to this rumor: the first is that Facebook is in the initial stages of development for a music video service, which by all accounts will operate in a similar way to YouTube’s premium efforts. Facebook would pay royalties to rights holders and provide them with a means of registering their content in order to help prevent privacy. Furthermore, it is believed that Facebook’s music video service will offer the same royalties as YouTube at the time of launch. An anonymous source told Music Ally that Facebook’s music video streaming plans were at an advanced stage and “way ahead of YouTube.” If the music video streaming service is successful, it’s possible that Facebook will launch a music-only streaming service but this brings something else into focus: it’s often cheaper and easier to buy an existing subscription-based music service than build and license your own, which is similar to what Facebook has done with Instagram and WhatsApp and of course what Apple did with Apple Music. Perhaps Facebook’s plans are to see how well a music video service is accepted by customers and if it proves successful, to buy up an existing music streaming service?