Social Media

The Empire Strikes Back: Facebook Music & The Resurection Of the Dark Side.

image from Facebook has forever shied away from music. The best it previously offered was limited integration with Root Music and Reverb Nation to host a pretty drab music tab. The people at Facebook seemed very aware that, while music essentially built Myspace, it was also the very thing that killed it.

With Indie artists doing their best to incorporate Facebook into their promotional agenda, the use of Facebook as a tool to break a band wasn’t really an effective strategy. “We are big on facebook” was never as ubiquitous as “We’re big on myspace”.


So when Facebook main man Mark Zuckerberg announced his apparent excitement of the newly created Facebook Music, one had to wonder why the sudden shift. 

Well indie kids, like the closing minutes of the movie Seven, except with Gwyneth Paltrows head replaced with the severed cranium of indie music, I am afraid to say, “The major labels have the upper hand”.

Like it or not, they own Spotify, they reap the rewards and they have storefront placement.

Sounding decidedly old school isn’t it?

Now with Spotify requiring new users to log in with a facebook account, they have the makings of a new music network that could actually provide a platform of growth for the major musical releases.


With your musical algorithm’s being logged, just like your purchases at Amazon and your preferences at Google currently are, those in charge of the mainframe can feed you what they believe you want. Facebook now decides which posts are most relevant to you, unless you actually bother going through each of your friends and set it differently. With the integration of Spotify, they can tell you what your friends are listening to and furthermore chose to highlight that on your wall.

With the majors in pole position at Spotify, is it unreasonable to assume that the artists given priority for the week will also get priority on your wall, should one of your friends happen to listen to it on Spotify.


The problems with viral videos were that their growth was organic, it wasn’t really possible to buy a million meaningful plays on a youtube video. But now with Spotify and Facebook teaming up, could this be the start of manufacturing viral musical growth. Pushing the priorities to the fore, thus insuring their chances of catching fire.

Remember that time when the majors used to buy radio plays, storefront racking, and features in magazines? Well this is the birth of Major Labels 2.0, they are buying their way into your life and you wont even suspect a thing.


Indie artists can bemoan the diminutive payments that trickle through the Spotify system, but no one is really going to care. Spotify isn’t really about finding a legal alternative to piracy for ALL artists.  Its sights are set far bigger than that, and far bigger than any indie artist or indie label that will pull it’s content as a result. Now that it has tapped into Facebooks 500 million plus users and become a featured priority, it would seem that the big boys, in the shape of the major labels, are back in town. Makes you wonder what Apple thinks of all this.

So then, looks like independent musicians are going to be chasing those major deals all over again, but in reality, isn’t that what the majority of artists really wanted all along? 


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  1. I find this post very pessimistic.
    The updates at Facebook are not all about Spotify.
    We’ve been doing some experiments here at Nimbit and have found that Indie artists can take advantage of the ticker, and the snowball effect it can have if you reach out to your fans the right way.
    And just because Spotify is most likely to feature a major label artist, doesn’t mean that’s what your friends will be listening to. You’ll still get exposure to the music that is in line with their tastes.
    The fact is, more music exposure is going to be a good thing for both indie and major label artists. A rising tide lifts all boats. The key thing, is as an indie artist, it’s critical that you have a compelling way to monetize that relationship once someone does find you on Facebook.
    That’s why we’ve introduced the new MyStore for Facebook, you can find more info here

  2. Pessimistic or realistic? Nobody makes money from Spotify except the majors. It is a bold move by Zuckerberg and co. and they clearly have Apple in their sites with this one.

  3. Indeed, realistic, but the virtual light all too easily blinds the techno-festishist, the infantile worshipper and the usual supects who have never attempted political analysis, nor read any other history than the one written by the winners.
    There is a bit of relevant material – from a philosophical and political economy perspective – here:
    When they came for me there was noone left…….

  4. Robin is right, only majors make money from Spotify.
    But, can’t limit to just Spotify, it’s ALL streaming services.
    Advances from Youtube, Spotify, Rdio, etc. are in the millions to majors.
    It’s a fact. Majors now control the music world even more so.

  5. Haha well I think your Zizekian timbre will ensure that visitors to your blog will remain elitist. Alternatively, their visiting time will be limited and their reaction will urge towards the facebook vernacular with a proclamation of, “Dude too many words”.
    If a tree falls in the forrest…

  6. Robin, can you suggest an alternative for indie artists and their fans to support them? Light a candle for me dude.

  7. Alternative to what?
    Just put your music out, tour, get press/radio, etc.
    And stop putting you music where you make no money, like streaming.
    Music world is simple, not complex.
    Don’t be tech’s bitch.

  8. Indie artist shouldn’t shy away from spotify but maybe use it sparingly. There is no harm in just putting a couple of songs on the service instead of whole albums. If they are good people will want to find out more about you.

  9. The biggest problem I see with this discussion is that we are back to square one in terms of how people perceive indie artist’s means to generate revenue: selling music. IMO strictly selling music (or relying on streaming revenue) isn’t what indie artists should be focusing on because they won’t likely make much money even through the Itunes single market (which IMO is even worse for artists for multiple reasons, not to mention that it doesn’t have the social/viral music discovery aspect that this new facebook music integration allows).
    Don’t forget about Mike Masnick’s CwF + RtB = $$$ formula. Plenty of indie artists are connecting with fans and giving them a reasons to buy directly, which in turn appears to be a sustainable business model. Indie artists should also be looking at other revenue streams like selling merch, touring, and licensing/publishing monies.
    Spotify is certainly no saving grace for all musicians. In fact, I think the real problem lies in the popular idea that it would some how allow musicians to make money selling music again. This unfortunately, but realistically, just isn’t the case for most of us.

  10. MySpace has really pissed me off over the last few years and things seem to be getting worse in the short term. But being the eternal optimist I somehow hope that Justin T. and the gaggle of new MySpace investors will figure out how to revamp the site, regain their dominance in the market and rise like a Phoenix from the ashes to liberate the besieged Indies. Well, one can dream.

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