July 6, 2011 at 11:10 am

5 Ways Google+ Could Steal Music Fans from Facebook

google+ google plus music facebook spotify sharing youtube social

Google’s social network, Google+, is late. Facebook has a big lead, having ousted MySpace, which in turn deposed Friendster, the site that started us all on this path towards recreating our social fabric as a network of connected personal nodes.

Facebook is an excellent tool for sharing music — usually in the form of Google’s YouTube videos — but even the developer of the top music app on Facebook says it doesn’t do enough, music-wise.

And when we canvassed the top 20 Facebook music apps, we were shocked by what we found. The list of the most popular music apps on this, the most popular social network, included werevertumorro and Shane Dawson TV, which aren’t even music apps; they merely alert fans when one of those videobloggers throws up another video on YouTube.

Evolver.fm contacted Google to try to talk about its music strategy for Google+, mentioning Facebook’s apparent shortcomings in that area. A spokeswoman declined to comment — in part, she said, because Music Beta by Google is still in, well,  beta. But even without discussing it with Google directly, we can spot five ways in which Google could become “besties” with music enthusiasts to Facebook’s detriment.

1. Easy Sharing

YouTube music videos, which comprise many of the most popular videos on YouTube, are all over Facebook in the United States, and from what Google itself told us, the same is true for Spotify song links in Europe. Facebook is reportedly planning to integrate more tightly with multiple music services, the way it recently did with MOG, but still has a ways to go on that front.

Meanwhile, Google has thousands of engineers, all of whose yearly bonuses will be tied to how “social” they can make its offerings. Clearly, Google+ could give Facebook a run for its money when it comes to sharing music from — and across — all of the music services (read: silos) upon which we depend.

facebook music google plus google+

The preponderance of YouTube music on Facebook is an indication that music fans want to use it to share music... so why doesn't Facebook help us?

2. Group Listening Parties

If you haven’t used Google Hangout yet, Google+’s online video chatroom that lets you know when your friends are hanging out, consider that my former colleague Jenna Wortham of the New York Times thinks it just might be Google’s “killer app,” which is really saying something, when you’re talking about a company with as much to offer as Google has. And if you’ve yet to sign in to group listening service Turntable.fm, consider how many music fans already love the way the recently-launched service lets them get together to spin music and talk about it.

By combining those two concepts — with or without the video component — to create real-time music listening parties with push notifications, Google+ could run circles around Facebook in the group listening department. And music fans would start evangelizing Google+ in order to get their friends involved, the same way they are currently doing with Turntable.fm.

3. Live Musicians Plus Live Music

Google+’s Hangout feature could do something else, and surely this one has already occurred to Google engineers pining for that social bonus. Hangout could be a great way for stars to hold meet-and-greet sessions with their fans. Plenty of other ways exist for this sort of thing, of course, but Google has money and famous people make appearances in exchange for it. If Google doesn’t do this, one has to wonder how else they’re spending their money.

And, of course, the company could archive these talks on YouTube, creating valuable content that would still be of interest 20 years from now, in many cases, and which wouldn’t appear on Vimeo or any other competitors. Speaking of YouTube, it’s been slowly edging into the live online music business. Clearly, those shows could find a place on Google+, with plenty of social-bonus-friendly features for talking about the show in real time.

4. Google Music Integration

Oh yeah, Google already has its own music storage solution for fans, unlike Facebook, which uploads photos and videos for easy sharing but ignores your music collection. If Google+ doesn’t do something interesting with the service still known as Music Beta by Google, its engineers don’t just deserve to miss out on those bonuses; they should probably be fired. There are many ways to go with this, but for starters, they could make your music collection visible and searchable on Google+, use it as a way to introduce people to each other, work on creating DMCA-compliant streams that would allow people to listen to each other’s taste, and use taste-combining algorithms to create stations out of multiple Music Beta by Google accounts too. Just a thought.

5. Android Apps For The Win

Facebook doesn’t have a popular smartphone operating system, and Google does. I’m not an engineer, and have never even played one on TV, but Google’s finest should be able to figure out how to use Android APIs for slicker integration between music apps and Google+ than Facebook can manage on mobile platforms it doesn’t control.

Any other ideas? Let me know.

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  • David Hyman

    remember the first iteration of grouper?  i believe it is law that you are allowed to share music with friends in small groups.  there is a squishy grey area that dictates how big a private group can be.  but with circles,  it appears to me to be the ultimate peer to peer darknet.

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  • http://twitter.com/Justjamit Justjamit

    I think it’s a very good point that Facebook simply doesn’t do enough for musicians, nor Google or MySpace.  I think Google have a difficult task in that they have the world at their feet and can almost afford to go down every possible angle: Music, TV, film, live events, sharing, networking etc.  I guess they’ve got to be careful not to spread themselves too thinly and to make sure they’re developing ideas which are solid and are going to work properly.

    Therefore, the question remains how much time and money Google want to spend on captivating this audience.  My company is about to release a site which I am hoping will have a go at taking on this market – but what scares me is that in reality, somebody like Google or Facebook could afford to copy our ideas and build a duplicate in weeks; when we’ve been working on our site for 16 months.

    I personally don’t think Google will tailor their products specifically to the music industry, they will tailor it to be adaptable into all forms of industry (like with Facebook), then allow people to customise and build it to suit their needs.  This is why our site Justjamit (http://www.justjamit.com) is going to focus on the music first and what musicians need from a social network. It’s a real waste that none of these big players are focused on the music industry; but I really hope you all can feel positive about our site once it is completed! J