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As Facebook continues the charge towards its rumoured-but-practically-confirmed IPO this year, its next trick is a feature called 'Listen With'.
Announced last night, this allows groups of people to listen to the same song at the same time via the social network’s music service.
Spotify, Rdio, Turntable.fm and others were brought on board in September 2011 to allow people to listen to music from within Facebook, and this seems to be an evolution of those partnerships.
Though ‘Listen With’ is most similar to Turntable.fm’s service (which allows people to create virtual listening environments with users taking the role of DJ), Facebook’s offering only allows you to listen alongside friends.
Turntable.fm co-founder Billy Chasen (who also gave us Stickybits) told Techcrunch he was “flattered” by the similarity.
Facebook product designer Alexandre Roche explained on the company’s blog;
Look for the music note in the chat sidebar to see which of your friends are listening to music. To listen with a friend, hover over their name, and click the Listen With button. The music will play through the service your friend is using. When a new song plays, you'll come along for the ride, discovering new music while your friend DJs for you.”
Turntable.fm’s services aren’t available to those outside of the US, so this is a great way for Facebook to take a good idea – and roll it out to the masses.
Chasen has said that Turntable’s focus is on music discovery, rather than just sharing, but still – with a behemoth like Facebook duplicating your basic function, he’d be forgiven for getting a bit flushed.
'Listen With' must also have the ears of the music labels pricked. It’s giving passionate fans a platform from which to influence their friend’s music tastes.
It would be safe to assume that with the growing popularity of f-commerce, some form of commerce functionality is next on the list – dependent on people’s reaction to this as a new feature of course.