Facebook Page services company Involver is getting into the music business, in a sense, with the launch of a new app called Music for Pages. You can see it in action, exclusively streaming Alicia Keys’ new album for her fans on her Facebook Page. The app comes with a customizable streaming playlist feature, along with tour dates and a way for fans to share tracks on their profiles and news feeds.
The move puts Involver in competition with MySpace’s iLike, which came out with its own unofficial music pages in late 2007 — before Facebook Pages launched — and streamed its first major album last year for R.E.M. But Involver’s move makes sense, despite the established competition, because Pages have been becoming an increasingly useful part of Facebook. Recently, Facebook changed the policies around sweepstakes and promotions for marketers, requiring that they take place within an application canvas page or Page tab. And just today, Google said it would be featuring Pages in its real-time search results, meaning that Google real-time searchers might soon be seeing Alicia Keys status updates about her new album.
While iLike’s main Music app has more than 10.4 million monthly active users, Keys’ page has around 1.3 million fans, according to PageData. (Note: Facebook doesn’t currently publish monthly page traffic, at lease some portion of her fans will see the promotion today.)
Involver will make the music app another option for Page owners to use, as a premium product that it charges an annual subscription and service fee for, in exchange for setting up the application, developing custom features, and other services. In some sense, this also makes Pages more of a rival to MySpace’s music distribution services; and, the company recently bought iLike.
MySpace has repeatedly stated that it is making entertainment its focus, in a strategic move away trying to compete with Facebook as a social identity service. It has been pushing its own music site, with MySpace and iLike now appearing in Google real-time search results as well. It also plans to run music in iLike on Facebook, and it will likely make sharing MySpace music easy to do on Facebook, when it integrates Facebook Connect.
To be clear, MySpace is trying to offer a comprehensive, consumer-facing music service, especially with its flagship music property, MySpace Music, while Involver is just trying to make it easier for musicians to promote themselves on Facebook Pages (not, say, create a rival to MySpace Music). However, the two ecosystems will compete in terms of selling things like albums and schwag for the musicians and their labels. On Alicia Key’s page, for example, there’s a tab for an exclusive album that has you click on to Sony’s web site to buy it. You can bet Sony will be watching to see how well that tab drives sales versus its promotions on MySpace, and on other music services around the web.
For musicians, in any case, Involver’s app (along with everything MySpace is doing) shows that there are still improving opportunities to find new fans and make money online.