clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Facebook Lets You Share Music With Your Friends

Related: Facebook wants to be friends with the music business.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

I’ve got pretty great taste in music. Go ahead, ask me!

Or don’t! Facebook wants to make it easier for me to tell you about what I’m listening to, even if you haven’t asked, with a new “Music Stories” feature that lets users share bits of songs they like.

It’s rolling out today for iPhone users who also use Apple Music or Spotify; more hardware and listening options are on the way.

If this sounds familiar, there’s a good reason. We’ve seen attempts to link music with your social graph before, with varying degrees of success.

Apple tried it in 2010, with Ping, and failed — in large part because Apple and Facebook never figured out how to work together. And in 2011, Facebook gave music services a big push, via its “frictionless sharing” strategy, but ended up dialing it back, presumably because people didn’t like getting and receiving constant updates about what their friends were listening to.

This move is relatively modest in scope: If you use Spotify or Apple Music and you want to share the song you’re listening to with your friends, you hit a button, and you’ll generate a post with a 30 second sample. And if your friends have Spotify or Apple Music, they can click through and call up the song on their own service.

And that’s it. There’s not that much to it, which might be why it could work:

Another indicator of Music Stories’ modest scope: Facebook didn’t have to negotiate with individual labels and other rights owners to get this off the ground — Apple Music and Spotify already have the ability to let people listen to short samples.

But the other interesting thing about Music Stories has nothing to do with its features and everything to do with its timing.

That is: Facebook is making a big push into videos, but so far it hasn’t done much with music videos, which for the moment are essentially locked up with Google, YouTube and Vevo, the music video service owned by the labels but dependent on YouTube.

But the music labels’ deals with YouTube are set to expire next year. And the labels are doing a lot of loud talking about how displeased they are with YouTube and the fact that it serves as the world’s biggest jukebox, without requiring anyone to pay to listen.

In the past, the labels couldn’t do more than talk, since there wasn’t a plausible place for them to go with their videos if they didn’t want to work with YouTube. Now there is: While it’s hard to imagine the music labels bailing on YouTube entirely for Facebook, it’s at least theoretically possible.

And if Facebook happens to launch a feature that lets its billion-plus users promote music to one another, just as those negotiations are set to begin?

Well, that could be a coincidence. But it probably isn’t.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.