Facebook‘s next big business could have Mark Zuckerberg singing — and Apple‘s Steve Jobs biting his nails. According to a report by GigaOm, Facebook plans to partner with music streaming service Spotify, as well as other music services and applications, to launch a new social music platform that will allow users to listen to music directly through Facebook, and check out what music their friends are listening to, in real time.
Dubbed “Music Dashboard,” the new service will reportedly be accessed through a new Music tab in the left-hand column of users’ Facebook homepage. The tab will only appear “if a user has listened to music with one of Facebook’s partner music services,” says GigaOm founder Om Malik. Clicking the tab will open the Music Dashboard page. There, users can see all the tracks they’ve listened to, as well as top tracks and the number of times each track has played.
A “Persistent Playback/Pause Button” will be instituted at the bottom of the Facebook page “where you currently have the chat icon,” says Malik. The button will serve as a controller for playing music, as well as a “quick snapshot” that will let users see what song is playing on any music streaming service they are logged into using Facebook Connect. It will also enable users to pause or play the music directly from their Facebook page.
Malik’s sources tell him Music Dashboard will also include these features:
1. Music Notifications: here you have notifications that show if your friends have listened to songs recommended by you or on your profile.
2. Recommended Songs: You can get a list of songs heard and recommended by your friends. You can also play them back by clicking the play icon.
3. Top Songs from friends.
4. Top Albums from friends, with cover art.
5. Recent listens from your friends.
6. In the upper-right corner there will be a “happening now” ticker that shows what is happening in your social and musical universe, including songs that your friends are playing. There is some talk that this “Happening Now ticker” would show-up all throughout your music experience and not just on the music dashboard.
According to Business Insider, the new service could become a “billion dollar” business for Facebook. The social network’s goal, says BI‘s Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, is to “do for music what it did for games: use its social graph to help Facebook users discover music and help music startups get users.”
Of course, with the massive licensing fees that go along with (legally) streaming music, it’s not yet clear how Facebook will make money off the new service. But if Music Dashboard does come to fruition — and works well to boot — then Facebook has the potential to cut into Apple’s iTunes territory.
News of Music Dashboard follows a variety of reports that indicate a rift between Apple and Facebook. Apple’s recent announcement that Twitter — not Facebook — will receive deep-level integration into iOS 5 sparked murmurs that the two companies were at odds. Then, just last week, rumors surfaced that Facebook has a web-based app market place, accessible through mobile Safari, that could compete with Apple’s App Store.
On its own, each report is merely another tech rumor amongst a hoard of rumors. Put together, however, and it becomes clear that Facebook has Apple in its crosshairs.