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The L.A. Times music blog

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Facebook's music ambitions get louder

September 22, 2011 |  5:11 pm

Facebook Timeline

Online streaming service Spotify has been quick to lend its support to Facebook's new music integration features, which the social media site unveiled at its F8 conference Thursday. Spotify chief Daniel Ek not only appeared at F8, but his company also unveiled a video in which it immediately declared that Spotify "hearts" Facebook. 

It doesn't take much scanning of social networking sites to see that a signficant number of users are, perhaps, more skeptical of the changes than are Ek and Spotify. Yet if Facebook's users ultimately adapt to the company's newly designed profiles, dubbed Timeline, they will find that music has the potential to play a more prominent role on the social network than ever before. With Timeline, which can be previewed on Facebook, each profile wall becomes sort of an online magazine, and applications are slotted in mini, block-like sections. 

The goal is to make it easier to listen and share music directly from a Facebook profile. So if a user, for instance, recommends a song from Spotify and allows that application to appear in a Timeline, a friend/follower can simply press a play button to listen to that song on the service. From the previews available online, it appears that such a feature would require both users to have an application installed. 

What's more, a Timeline won't require a user to actually "like" a song or artist. If the application is installed, running and approved to appear in a Timeline, it will note every song, video or movie watched in a recent activity Ticker. Users will be able to control what is shared with whom, so guilty pleasures can remain a secret to the Facebook populace at large, in theory. 

Said Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg at the event, "People have things they want to share,  but they don't want to annoy their friends by putting stuff in their friends' news feeds. Ticker is a lightweight stream of everything that's going on around you."

Spotify, of course, isn't the only music service that will benefit, and Rdio, Soundcloud, Vevo, Turntable, Slacker Radio and many others are also participating. The key to any of the new features, however, will of course be ease of use.

Spotify promises that music will start playing "right there," implying that users can listen directly within Facebook, and that as long as both parties have Spotify, everything is hunky-dory. But that won't always be the case with every service.

Early experimenting with Rdio, for example, had users leaving the social network, and wording from Vevo implied the same, at least in the early going. Opening a new window and then logging in to a different service isn't exactly difficult by any means, but nor is it seamless integration either. It could render the Timeline/Ticker features to little more than an up-to-the-minute snapshot of what friends are listening to and where. 

Our friends at The Times' Technology blog have been covering the announcements with more depth. Check those out, and start debating whether you'll want your Facebook friends to know every single pop-culture choice you make. Also, check out Spotify's love letter to the new features:


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Image: A screenshot of Facebook's Timeline profile from the company's official demo.