July 31, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Why Facebook Made ‘Liking’ Music (a Little) More Frictionless

facebook likes music recommendations

My friend shared this Sister Nancy video. After I Liked it, Facebook asked me to like the artist directly on Facebook, which, circuitously, could make me hear better music all over the place.

We’re not sure when, but Facebook added a design tweak to get people to Like more music on Facebook, which I, for one, noticed on Wednesday. If one of your Facebook friends posts a YouTube link to a song (screenshot), for example, Facebook might try to get you to Like the artist’s page.

Why would Facebook do this, besides the obvious (to create more action and band feed subscribers)? Because Facebook Likes are a potentially powerful tool with which developers can recommend music outside of Facebook, in addition to powering Facebook’s own music recommendations.

If you Like an artist, perhaps Rdio, Spotify, internet radio services, and other music apps would like to play you that song and/or something similar. They can do that already, today. If you log in with or otherwise connect your Facebook account, they see your Likes.

Seems simple enough, right? Not so fast.

So far, Facebook Likes aren’t very good mirrors of most people’s music taste, although they provide helpful signposts. In part, this is because people Like things on Facebook to tell other people that they “Like” them, not because they actually (i.e. lowercase) like them.

Remember when Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” (116,706,259 plays on Vevo) was blowing people away with its goofy bassline and those amazing harmonies in the chorus? Nobody’s talking about Foster The People anymore, but if you Liked them back in 2011, Facebook thinks your love for the band is real, and possibly never-ending.

Compounding the issue, people sometimes Like and then Un-Follow trendy bands, because they don’t really like them, they just want to “Like” them to appear “with it” or even impress a specific person.

Then, there’s laziness, never to be discounted as a factor shaping the ways in which people use things. Who has time to go around Facebook  – a place that doesn’t even play music — Liking all the music they’ve ever liked? Judging from what I’ve seen on Facebook, nobody does this.

Facebook knows I like my friend, for starters. When I Like what she shared, Sister Nancy’s “Ain’t No Stopping Nancy,” Facebook knows that — but when I Like the artist herself in the dialogue that popped up next, that artist like gets churned out to whichever Facebook Connect apps want it — and that is, for me, a good thing. I want music services to know I like Sister Nancy.

How many times, in how many places, should I have to “like” her in order to get my point across? When it comes to services that connect to Facebook’s music Likes, the answer is “once.”

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  • Paul Seele

    Maybe it hasn’t rolled out for all users but I can’t see that on any YouTube videos in my feed.
    Any suggestions for artists/labels to ensure the video is linked to the correct artist page? Do you need to connect your YouTube account with a Facebook page?

  • Eva_Evils

    I see this for other things too, not just bands. eg. Soundcloud / Resident Advisor / Rinse FM (all music related though!)