Facebook Discontinues Official Mp3 Music Player, Pushes Users to Streaming Partners

Facebook has begun alerting Page admins that the official Music Player app it developed years ago will no longer be available after today. The app allowed Page admins to upload an MP3 and add track information, and the song would then be shared to the news feed where it could be streamed in-line. The same app seems to power the ability for users to post songs to the news feed by adding the URLs of MP3s to the publisher.

Facebook says “The Facebook Music Player app is being replaced with better ways to incorporate music on your Page”, and a Help Center entry then encourages users and admins to post music videos instead of songs and use third-party apps. Facebook could be developing its own basic Page tab application to allow musicians to share music. Alternatively, it may be trying to avoid copyright issues and clear the way for third-party music sharing apps including Spotify and RootMusic’s BandPage.

The notice of the removal of the Music Player app starting October 31 is appearing at the top of Pages to their admins. It follows similar alerts about Facebook discontinuing the Discussions and Reviews Page tab apps. In those cases it also said new tools are coming but that for now Pages should use their wall as a forum and host for reviews.

Promoting Third-Party Music Page Tab Apps

Facebook does not currently offer its own Page tab app for permanently hosting streaming music, and rather allows third-party developers such as RootMusic, ReverbNation, and Bandcamp to provide musician profile apps. These apps have grown popular as bands flee the deteriorating Myspace Music for Facebook.

While these services let artists share their songs for in-line news feed streaming, they are more complex and take more time to set up than Music Player. Facebook could introduce a lightweight tab app replacement for Music Player’s 5,000 monthly active users, or simply leave that problem for third-parties to solve.

If Facebook does prevent MP3 files from being shared and played through the news feed, users could comply with Facebook’s request to share videos instead, which don’t have the same copyright issues as they’re generally hosted on services such as YouTube that scan for unlicensed usage of songs. Still, it could disrupt behavior of independent musicians who hosted MP3s themselves and wanted to share them with their Facebook friends without setting up a Page or video service account.

Favoring Streaming Music Partners Over MP3s

At f8, Facebook announced partnerships with music services Spotify, Rdio, and more to allow listening activity of Facebook users to be published to their profiles and the news feeds of their friends. When users click links in these stories, the corresponding music app launches to play a song.

As part of these partnerships, Facebook may be trying to move users away from MP3 files that are commonly used to illegally share music. It could be seen as violating copyright by by hosting MP3 files uploaded to Music Player.

By discontinuing Music Player, Facebook can push to find the song they wanted to share on Spotify or another service and share it that way. This could please partners, but also aid Facebook if it ever starts allowing users to buy subscriptions to paid streaming services with Facebook Credits from which it takes a 30% tax.

In the end, Facebook may have seen little need to continue supporting the Music Player app. There are better Page tab apps available from third-parties, it competed with Facebook’s music partners, and it presented copyright infringement risks.

We’re awaiting a response from Facebook regarding whether  it is developing its own music Page tab app and whether MP3 URLs will still be allowed to be shared to the news feed and streamed in-line. We’ll update this article with the company’s response.

[Image Credit: Chris J Politzki]

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