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Facebook in music service launch later this month

Facebook’s music service, expected to launch on September 22, is key to the social network’s success moving forward, taking it from a communications platform to a content site, a leading digital music analyst has said.

The social network is expected to announce a music service in partnership with digital streaming companies Spotify, Mog and Rhapsody, at f8, Facebook’s upcoming annual developer conference on September 22.

According to Mark Mulligan, a leading independent digital music analyst, formerly of Forrester Research, the development is a crucial move for the site.

“Facebook hasn’t needed to have music properly embedded in its site until now. However, it is trying to be as defensible as possible against any potential Facebook killers which it knows could come along. It is now deliberately extending itself to be more than a social network and instead of just being a communications platform – this service will see the site become a social content platform."

He added: “I think Facebook has a great chance of going much further than MySpace and Last.fm ever went in bringing the social side of music recommendation together on a platform tailor made for friends communicating. If it gets it right – it has the opportunity to become the universal music dashboard for the majority of people online.”

Facebook is not expected to begin hosting music on its own site, but rather it will rely upon partners, including the Swedish-founded Spotify (which has just launched in the US), Mog and Rdio, which all already have digital music licenses in place.

In the same way Facebook has become a web platform for games and applications created by third party developers, it is expected to announce the same arrangement for music at f8.

Technology site, TechCrunch, claims that the Facebook music offering will scrobble people’s music choices, meaning that when somebody listens to track via any of the partner services, it will be published to people’s Facebook profile. The new offering is also expected to allow users of all of the different music services to listen to tracks regardless of the service provider, according to TechCrunch’s sources.

For instance, if a Facebook user is listening to a track via Spotify, a Rhapsody user could click on the track via their profile and listen to the whole song – meaning only one account will be required across the different services to get access to most of the content.

A Facebook spokesman said: "There's nothing new to announce. Many of the most popular music services around the world are integrated with Facebook and we're constantly talking to our partners about ways to improve these integrations."

Facebook is also expected to launch a in-built music player which pulls in the different service’s catalogues – so people can listen to their favourite songs while connecting with friends.

MySpace, Facebook’s beleaguered rival, which was recently acquired by Justin Timberlake and advertising agency Specific Media, had formerly been the social network of choice for sharing and accessing music.

However, Facebook, with more than 750 million members, now looks well-positioned to corner this market with well-established digital music players, such as Mog.

Mulligan added: “Facebook’s music strategy can be summed up with one word: co-existence. It is trying to join the digital dots and become the place where friends connect over music… MySpace is pretty much dead in the water and the puff went out of Last.fm round about the time CBS acquired it. This is a great opportunity for the site.”