Facebook’s Music Sharing Partnerships Aren’t Helping Musicians Gain Fans

Facebook has yet to create an easy and obvious way for users to Like the Pages of musicians they listen to, costing artists significant marketing opportunities. Since the listening activity of Spotify, Rdio, and other music service users began being automatically shared to the social network late last month, Facebook Pages of musicians have not been gaining fans any faster.

Musical artists and record labels should push Facebook to implement a better retention mechanism that helps them convert listeners into fans who they can then reach with marketing updates through the news feed. This could come in the form of a Like button for an artist’s Page on feed stories about users listening to them, or a a “Recommended Musicians” panel that suggests users Like the artists they listen to most.

Until then, Facebook is gaining compelling feed stories about listening habits and data it can monetize through ad targeting without returning the favor to musicians.

Musicians Need Likes, Not Listens, to Make Money

Currently, to Like an artist they have been listening to, users have to find a story about their listening activity in the news feed, Ticker, or Timeline. The use can then click through the artist’s name to visit their Page and Like them. A lesser known method is to hover over the artist’s name and use the Like button in the hover card. The hidden buttons and high friction flows mean only users already intent on Liking an artist will become fans.

Facebook’s music partnerships are making some money for musicians by driving usage of streaming services that pay out royalties when an artist’s songs are streamed. However, these royalties can be just a fraction of a cent per listen. Artists depend on concert ticket and merchandise sales that Facebook’s music apps aren’t helping them increase directly.

Many artists use their Facebook Pages to promote their tours and merchandise lines in the news feed, but only fans receive these updates — not listeners. However, the 20 most popular musician Facebook Pages and the Pages of a dozen smaller artists we checked showed no increase in the rate of new Likes starting on September 22nd when the music partnerships launched. Therefore, it’s important that Facebook make it easier for users to Like the artists listen to.

How Facebook Could Improve Listener Retention for Pages

There are several ways Facebook could do this. This simplest and probably the most effective way would be to add a prominent, one-click “Like this artist” button to stories about listening activity, as mocked up below. When users see who they’ve been listening to on their profile Timeline, or discover a new artist by clicking through a story about a friend’s listening activity, they could then instantly become a fan.

Facebook could also create a “Recommended Musicians” sidebar module that could be displayed to users while they browse the site or on the Music Dashboard that aggregates their network’s listening activity. It could show Like buttons for the artists they or their friends have been listening to most. There’s already a Top Songs module in the Music Dashboard that could be augmented with a Like button as I’ve mocked up below.

Getting more users Liking musician Pages could also benefit Facebook. These Likes fill a user’s new feed with rich content that increases return visits and time-on-site. They provide advertisers with something to target that can be indicative of a potential customer’s lifestyle. Finally, musicians own 37 of the top 100 most popular Facebook Pages, which shows how central people see music to expressing their identity — one of Facebook’s overall goals.

There are some issues with reducing friction in the musician Page Like process I’ve described. Placing a Page Like button near an activity story’s Like button could cause confusion. Also, Facebook not want to drive more Likes to a category of Pages that already has lots of fans. Still, these are users who are already listening to an artist — it’s not far fetched to think they might be interested in Liking that artist’s Page if given a chance.

If Facebook want to keep musicians from bringing their content and fans to another social platform happy, and compensate them for the engaging listening activity stories they power, it should bridge listening and Liking.

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