Spotlight on Spotify: Facebook Integration, Radio Feature, Impact on Piracy

  • Spotify has been drawing a great deal of media attention this week, more so than the growing number of other streaming music services.
  • Since the company announced its partnership with Facebook at the recent F8 event, Spotify has gained more than one million new users, despite the public outcry from those who question limiting the service’s signup to Facebook users only.
  • In response to concerns regarding Facebook’s media-sharing philosophy, Spotify released a new update that enables users to access the Facebook app without sharing their listening habits, reports Digital Trends. This may be good news for subscribers not happy with the recent announcement regarding Facebook integration — and could potentially serve as a model for how others offer access to services via social networking.
  • In related news from The Hollywood Reporter, Spotify recently released a radio feature in the U.S. that has long been available to European users. Radio will be accessible on the desktop client, but not on the Spotify mobile app. The add-on is reportedly in no way a Pandora killer, due mainly to its lack of mobility and attention to detail.
  • Additionally, Digital Trends reports that Spotify may be having a significant impact on music piracy. Illegal downloads in Sweden have reportedly dropped 25 percent since Spotify launched there in 2009. “Here in the U.S., Spotify isn’t the only option — and it may not even be the best, depending on user preference. Pandora, MOG, Rdio, Grooveshark — the list goes on,” indicates the article. “We don’t yet have numbers to show how these services are affecting music piracy in the U.S. But we’d put our money on them having a similar effect as Spotify is having in Sweden.”

Viewership on the Rise: Online Video Ads Reach 50 Percent of U.S. Population

  • American consumers cumulatively watched about 2.5 billion minutes of online ads in August, according to a new report released by comScore.
  • The report indicates that 86 percent of U.S. Internet users watched at least some online video content last month, and more than half of that content was accessed via YouTube.
  • Also worth noting: Facebook, already the largest photo site on the Web, was the third largest video site in terms of unique viewers.
  • The rankings “find Facebook retaining third position in August, with 51.6 million unique viewers, trailing VEVO in second (with 62 million) and Google Sites (i.e. YouTube) at 162 million,” reports TechCrunch.
  • According to comScore, video ads accounted for 13.4 percent of all videos viewed — and Hulu generated the highest number of video ad impressions (996 million in August alone), compelling figures for advertisers when you take into account that Hulu does not allow you to skip over videos.

The New Social Network: Should We All Be Scared of Facebook?

  • Writing for his blog Scripting News, Dave Winer offers an interesting perspective (and perhaps frightening downside) to Facebook’s new philosophy of sharing all media, all the time.
  • Since Facebook will be seeking out information on you to report on your behavior (even when you are logged out), the floodgates have opened for a range of possible negative repercussions. Winer suggests this type of “virus-like” behavior warrants “a bad name, like phishing, or spam, or cyber-stalking.”
  • “What clued me in was an article on ReadWriteWeb that says that just reading an article on their site may create an announcement on Facebook,” he explains. “Something like: ‘Bull Mancuso just read a tutorial explaining how to kill a member of another crime family.’ Bull didn’t comment. He didn’t press a Like button. He just visited a Web page. And an announcement was made on his behalf to everyone who follows him on Facebook. Not just his friends, because now they have subscribers, who can be total strangers.”
  • This type of information may ultimately be used in lawsuits, divorces and arrests. If the government did this, it would bring up Fourth Amendment issues.
  • Winer offers a solution (of sorts): “Until Facebook owns the browser we use, there is a simple way to opt-out, and I’ve done it myself. Log out of Facebook. And if Facebook had a shred of honor they would make their cookie expire, right now, for everyone, and require a re-log-in, and a preference choice to stay permanently logged-in. With a warning about the new snooping they’re doing. Probably a warning not written by them, but by Berkman, the EFF or the FTC.”

Future of the Internet: Do Web Technologies Need an Owner?

  • Software engineer Joe Hewitt proposed in a recent blog post that Web technologies may need an owner, and the assumption that the Web must not be controlled by anyone is a dangerous one. “The HTML, CSS, and JavaScript triumvirate are just another platform, like Windows and Android and iOS,” he writes, “except that unlike those platforms, they do not have an owner to take responsibility for them.”
  • He also suggests that “the arrogance of Web evangelists is staggering” since they “place ideology above relevance.”
  • Standards bodies cannot create the kind of cutting edge platforms developers need like they are doing with iOS, Android and Windows.
  • “My prediction is that, unless the leadership vacuum is filled, the Web is going to retreat back to its origins as a network of hyperlinked documents,” writes Hewitt. “The Web will be just another app that you use when you want to find some information, like Wikipedia, but it will no longer be your primary window. The Web will no longer be the place for social networks, games, forums, photo sharing, music players, video players, word processors, calendaring, or anything interactive. Newspapers and blogs will be replaced by Facebook and Twitter and you will access them only through native apps.”

Zuckerberg Vision of Sharing Everything We Do Online a Terrible Plan?

  • Farhad Manjoo, writing for Slate, offers a compelling counterpoint to Facebook’s updated “share everything with everyone” philosophy.
  • The article suggests that Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for Facebook’s newly-designed profile feature (“it’s called Timeline, and it’s beautiful”) involves encouraging sites to develop social apps within Facebook, a grand vision that could dramatically change our digital lives. On the surface, this sounds like a fascinating idea, but there may be problems that evolve from too much sharing.
  • “If Facebook’s CEO has his way, everything you do online will be shared by default,” explains the Slate article. “You read, you watch, you listen, you buy — and everyone you know will hear all about it on Facebook.”
  • The article uses Spotify, Netflix and Hulu to illustrate Zuckerberg’s concept of “frictionless” sharing: “What he means is that I don’t have to bother with the ‘friction’ of choosing to tell you that I like something. On Facebook, now, merely experiencing something is enough to trigger sharing.”
  • Manjoo does not have privacy concerns or hesitation regarding Facebook’s financial gain based on his personal information. However, the author believes that the “nightmare” of “frictionless sharing” is more about Facebook killing taste. He believes that Zuckerberg is essentially lowering the bar by providing an all-access pass to things we don’t necessarily share with everything because they aren’t worth mentioning in the first place (read: boring).
  • While Manjoo enjoys sharing and discovering new media via Facebook and Twitter, he fears the day these services no longer serve as tools for navigating recommendations once they are bogged down in minutiae.
  • “That’s why I welcome any method that makes it easier for people to share stuff,” he writes. “If you like this article, you should Like this article. And even if you hate this article, you should Like this article (add a comment telling your friends why I’m a moron). But if you’re just reading this article — if you have no strong feelings about it either way, and if you suspect that your friends will consider it just another bit of noise in their already noisy world — please, do everyone a favor and don’t say anything about it all.”

Hulu Hopes to Join Social TV Movement with New Facebook App

  • Hulu has proven successful with providing TV content online (the service is second only to YouTube in terms of viewer engagement), but the video platform has yet to effectively break into practical social offerings. That may change with its new Facebook app, which strives to make the Hulu experience more social.
  • The new app will enable viewing of content directly within Facebook, will allow you to see what your friends are watching (with approval), and will provide options for having conversations about shows and leaving comments.
  • “The coolest part? As you’re watching Hulu content, be it a full show, clip, or film, you can leave comments on particular moments within the video. Oh yes. SoundCloud-style,” reports TechCrunch. “And, naturally, once you leave a comment on a particular moment, you can then blast it out to friends to let them know how clever you are — on both Hulu and Facebook.”
  • Hulu Plus users can access their entire library in Facebook. And you can elect not to share what you watch with friends, via the share settings or privacy settings on Hulu or Facebook.
  • TechCrunch is enthusiastic about the app: “We welcome you, Hulubook. Facebulu.”

Photo Sharing on Upswing: Facebook Touts 140 Billion Uploaded Images

  • Recent estimates from the 1000Memories photo-services blog suggest Facebook now houses more than 140 billion uploaded photos.
  • This figure is roughly 10,000 times larger than the number of photos currently housed by the Library of Congress.
  • Based on recent figures provided by a Facebook engineer, “the social network oversees more than 200 million photos uploaded per day, approximately 6 billion per month,” reports Digital Trends. “TechCrunch also reported that Facebook users uploaded an estimated 750 million photos over the New Year’s holiday earlier this year. 1000Memories estimates that the typical digital camera owner takes about 150 digital images per year and potentially uploads 20 percent of all pictures to Facebook over the course of a year.”
  • The 1000Memories post calculates that approximately 3.5 trillion photos (analog and digital) have been captured since the invention of the camera, of which 10 percent were taken in the last 12 months.

Are There Key Ingredients Missing from Facebook Music Sharing?

  • Following last week’s F8 developer’s conference, and the news that Facebook is making a significant shift into media sharing, Wired offers an interesting take on possible missing elements to successfully sharing music via the social network.
  • “Yes, Facebook will facilitate legal music sharing — something the industry has been trying to do ever since Napster electrified (some would say “electrocuted”) the music business over 10 years ago,” suggests the article. “But as important as it is, Facebook’s music initiative is missing five key ingredients, all of which are within its grasp.”
  • According to Wired, the following are the missing ingredients…
  • True Music Sharing: Facebook should allow people to listen to each other’s music using whatever music service they want. Instead of using the service that the friend is using, you should have the option to select which platform you would like to use. They’ve started doing this (somewhat unfairly) for Spotify with a “play in Spotify” link in shared songs on other platforms, like Rdio.
  • Real-Time Group Listening: “Why didn’t Facebook music launch with the ability to join other listeners on a station in real-time, so that people can chat about what they’re hearing…?”
  • Music Tab in the Ticker: With all the new information coming to Ticker through automatic updates in Open Graph, it would be nice to have a music filter to separate music updates from other things like adding friends.
  • Apple: Apple, iTunes and iCloud were not included in the media system and would be beneficial to users.
  • Independent Developers: Facebook just needs to “stay out of the way” of independent app developers that build third-party players atop their catalogs — apps that could offer a range of interfaces, platforms, designs, features, and more to programs like Rdio or Spotify.

Netflix Teams with Facebook to Offer Social Movies (But Not in the U.S.)

  • Netflix announced a partnership with Facebook to allow members to share what they are watching on Netflix with their family, friends and associates via the social networking site. However, this feature will NOT be available in the U.S. (only in Canada and Latin America) due to a 1988 law that makes sharing that information illegal.
  • The Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) was created to prevent “wrongful disclosure of video tape rental or sale records (or similar audio visual materials, to cover items such as video games and the future DVD format).” Congress passed the law after Robert Bork’s video rental history was published during his Supreme Court nomination.
  • “Unfortunately, we will not be offering this feature in the U.S. because a 1980’s law creates some confusion over our ability to let U.S. members automatically share the television shows and movies they watch with their friends on Facebook,” explains Netflix Director of Government Relations Michael Drobac. “The good news, however, is that some forward-thinking members of Congress have introduced legislation, H.R. 2471, that would allow you to make this choice… If you want the choice to share with your friends, please email Congress to urge them to pass this modernizing legislation.”
  • According to Wired, Netflix currently has 24 million subscribers inside the U.S. and only a million subscribers internationally.

Google+ Passes 43 Million Users: Will It Compete with Facebook?

  • Paul Allen, the unofficial statistician for Google+, believes that the three month-old social network has reached a new milestone with 43.4 million users. (Google+ opened to the public on Tuesday and announced a number of new features for mobile and the Web.)
  • Using his model that examines uncommon surnames, Allen suggests there has been a dramatic 30 percent growth in the two days since the public has been able to access the service without an invitation.
  • “The stats leave me to question exactly what keeps drawing people in at such a rapid rate,” comments Brad McCarty, North American editor for The Next Web. “Are people really backlashing against Facebook? A reported 800 million users seem to be just fine on the site, especially after recent changes to privacy. But maybe it’s a combination of just wanting a change, and Google’s rollout of comprehensive new features for its own network that has spurred momentum.”

Tectonic Shift: What You Should Know About the New Facebook

  • We’ve received a flood of interesting articles and posts about newly announced changes to Facebook that emerged from yesterday’s F8 developer’s conference. You can check out the submissions stream on ETCentric to access all the write-ups and opinions, but in the meanwhile, the following provides a a quick snapshot…
  • Timeline: Your entire Facebook life. It condenses information the further back in time you go, allows you to navigate specific years, and provides the option to feature, add or remove items. It is important to note however, this is not merely a new feature. It will completely replace current profiles, according to TheNextWeb.
  • Ticker: This is a status feed that updates your activities, but is separate from your status updates that appear in the Newsfeed. This feature is now especially important to keep an overwhelming amount of information from coming through the new Open Graph Apps. “The Ticker is Facebook’s assault on Twitter,” reports Gizmodo. “Facebook is hoping that the tiny aspects of your life that you currently share on Twitter, you’ll be more likely to share on Facebook. One site for all your social networking.”
  • Open Graph Apps: Includes a variety of apps such as Spotify and Hulu that automatically update your Ticker and Timeline based on the settings you create for each app. Friends see what video you’re watching, what music you’re listening to, what games you’re playing, and more. This feature is available now, while Timeline will take a few more weeks.
  • It is worth mentioning that since music, news, video and more will be shared with friends and family, it may also be shared with marketers. Open Graph will enable an ecosystem for developers. Your Facebook profile will become “the story of your life” which is written for you in real time as you curate your personal information and your use of apps. Similarly, you will learn more about your friends. And all this personal information will be used to serve you with micro-targeted ads. People will be given the option of privacy even though most will probably not alter the default settings.
  • Social Sharing: By essentially creating a discovery engine for all your apps, Facebook hopes to dramatically change how we interact and share media electronically (through what Mark Zuckerberg calls “serendipitous discovery”). The Gizmodo post features a video on social sharing that provides a great view of how the Open Graph app sharing works.
  • Prior to the F8 event, eMarketer published a report forecasting that Facebook would double its global revenue to $4.27 billion in 2011.

Will Licensing Deals Help Turntable.fm Compete with Pandora and Spotify?

  • Turntable.fm, a rival music service to Pandora and Spotify, is negotiating with the four major music labels to license content. Turntable.fm is a social media site that allows people to share songs with friends and other online users.
  • The New York-based startup is looking to create a deal that would be unique and allow users to legally stream music internationally, but CEO Billy Chasen has not disclosed the details of the proposal.
  • “Both sides are super eager to get this done, and we’re getting closer,” Chasen said. “We take very seriously the music labels and publishers, and we want to make sure they’re with us.”
  • Turntable.fm, which launched earlier this year and requires users to log in via Facebook, currently has about 600,000 users. The startup recently raised $7 million from investors including Union Square Ventures, First Round Capital, Polaris Venture Partners, Benchmark Capital, Lady Gaga’s manager Troy Carter, and Maverick Records co-founder Guy Oseary.

New Social Media Tool Launched: Track TV Trends with Trendrr

  • TV industry insiders can start monitoring buzz around TV shows through Trendrr’s real-time dashboard, launched this week.
  • It measures buzz on Facebook, Twitter, GetGlue, and Miso and allows users to compare the show’s performance on the various platforms.
  • The dashboard can tell users how effective the social networking sites are in building up anticipation for upcoming episodes and how long the buzz lasts the moment the show airs.
  • It can also tell which show is garnering the most buzz, show top markets and hash tags, and explore Twitter users tweeting about the show.
  • “Trendrr and its parent company Wiredset have been tracking how well TV shows fare in social media for quite some time, and the company claims to count half of the top 25 cable networks as its customers,” reports GigaOM. “Its most ambitious project so far has been the Weather Channel’s new social media initiative, which incorporates curated tweets into the network’s website and on-air programming.”

Media Sharing: Facebook Expected to Unveil New Service at F8 Conference

  • Facebook is expected to unveil a new service at its F8 developers conference in San Francisco on Thursday that allows users to share their music, TV shows and movies (for example, a user’s Facebook profile page would display the music being consumed to friends).
  • The New York Times suggests that Facebook has reportedly signed deals with Spotify, Rhapsody, MOG, Deezer and Vevo that may bring millions of new users to their sites. Some are responding by introducing new ad-supported services to lessen the “friction” for new users (however, Rhapsody will reportedly continue with its subscription-only service).
  • Related news has been reported via ETCentric in recent days…
  • More information is emerging about Facebook’s new music service (which may be called Vibes). TechCrunch reports that “MOG, Spotify and Rdio have of course already been widely reported as launch partners for ‘Facebook Music,’ but notably, Deezer, SoundCloud and Rhapsody are new names.” This is based on “interesting references” found in the HTML code of the various streaming services.
  • In addition to an anticipated new music service, reports are circulating that the social networker may announce plans for bringing Hulu and possibly Netflix into the fold. We’ll see what shakes out this week, but until then the news media is in rumor mode: “Real-time viewing parties? It’s possible. Just not confirmed,” reports Gizmodo. “But the deal keeps things interesting for Hulu pre-buyout, its backing providers having all but jumped ship and offering their own streaming services.”
  • ETCentric will have more later in the week following the conference. Stay tuned…

The Flipinator: Google Propeller Sets its Sights on Flipboard and Facebook

  • Google is working on a social and news reader designed to rival Flipboard, according to numerous sources close to the project. Dubbed “Propeller,” the “souped-up version of similar reader apps” will reportedly allow users to navigate multiple social media feeds through a polished interface.
  • “I heard from someone working with Google that Google is working on a Flipboard competitor for both Android and iPad,” posted Robert Scoble on his Google + social feed. “My source says that the versions he’s seen so far are mind-blowing good.”
  • Flipboard is currently the most prominent company offering this type of service, and even turned down an offer from Google last year to buy the company. (Flipboard is available only for the iPad, although an iPhone version is in development.) Similar apps include AOL’s Editions, Yahoo’s Livestand, Zite and Pulse. Facebook is also creating social versions of publications that enable personalized, reformatted content when users access a pub’s page through Facebook.
  • “All these apps are part of the drastically changing habits of media consumers, helping them better navigate numerous social and media feeds — such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as news sites and more — using handsome interfaces and touch technologies,” reports Kara Swisher in All Things D.

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