September 22, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Facebook’s Real-Time Group Radio Feature Will Rule

"Listening party" photograph courtesy of Flickr/Caroline on Crack (link below)

We have a bone to pick with one aspect of Facebook’s new music initiative, but can’t find anything wrong with the way it will let people join each other on streaming radio stations to chat about what they’re hearing.

Here’s how this will work:

  • We are friends on Facebook.
  • I am listening to a streaming radio station somewhere.
  • You see what I’m listening to in real time, via the new Ticker on the right side of Facebook.
  • You click a link that says “Listen with your friend” or something like that.
  • We’re listening together, and can chat about what we’re listening to — just like on Turntable.fm. You won’t need to log in because the streaming radio service knows who you are, based on your Facebook Connect credentials.

Myxer Social Radio was the first to confirm this feature to us, and today, Slacker confirmed that it has been working on the same thing with Facebook for months, although it, like Myxer, hasn’t launched the real-time group-listening feature yet. Meanwhile, Pandora vice president of communications Deborah Roth declined to discuss “potential product features.”

“You sync up exactly, when you hop into a room,” explained Myxer founder Myk Willis, referring to the Facebook-integrated Myxer Social Radio. “We really stress the idea of listening with your friends, and when you listen together, it’s in real time, for each part of the song, and you can interact via chat — and it doesn’t matter what device you’re connecting to the service with — iPhone, Android, or whatever.”

That sounds like our kind of party. But this is Myxer’s first foray into streaming radio, so we asked Slacker and Pandora if they were working on the same thing given Facebook’s announcements today.

Pandora, which announced deeper Facebook integration this week, declined to comment as mentioned. Slacker, which announced Facebook integration today that lets people publish their listening habits to Facebook and see what their friends who use Slacker are listening to, said it is planning to add real-time group listening.

When reached by Evolver.fm, a Slacker spokesman contacted Slacker executive Jonathan Sasse and returned with this answer:

“[Slacker has] been working closely with Facebook on this few a few months, and will support this feature. It’s not live yet, but will be in the near future.”

So there you have it. At least two companies are working on this, and we can’t imagine that Pandora and the rest would want to ignore it either.

Best of all, unlike subscription services that require payment, a free trial, or some other form of measured consumption, streaming radio services generally let people listen as much as they want, for free, so users won’t have a problem clicking through to multiple services — basically, wherever their friends are listening.

We wish we could say the same about unlimited music services, which, for now, anyway, remain in their silos even after today’s big Facebook announcements.

(Photo via Flickr/Caroline on Crack)