On Friday we wrote about Facebook launching a possible iTunes competitor. We've now found a new, more compelling rumor from Rafat Ali of PaidContent. Instead of a music store, Facebook is said to be launching an artist platform to compete with MySpace's musician-friendly profile pages — a feature that has been a huge part of the social network's growth. Ali says that the platform includes iTunes integration for buying music through Apple's store, special profiles for bands, and unique widgets for music promotion, tour dates, and more, all within the clean Facebook interface.
This is bad news for iLike, one of the most popular third-party Facebook apps. The company's president said in July, "our goals are first to become the dominant music player on Facebook and, second, to become profitable." Step one just got a lot trickier.
We've always said that the Facebook Platform was CEO Mark Zuckerberg's playground. He has no problem stomping on outside developers — and why should he? Last we checked, it's his company. And while app developers can add features to users' profiles, Facebook has the unique ability to set up custom profiles with special fields for artists. Most importantly, only Facebook can lift the 5,000-friend cap that has limited the amount of useful fan outreach on the site thus far.
This makes a lot more sense than launching yet another music store. A partnership with an existing outlet such as iTunes could set Facebook up with an easy way for artists to sell music and to make deals with record companies to get already-signed bands on board. Heck, now that talks between Microsoft and Facebook over the software giant taking a stake in the company have apparently cooled, maybe it's time for Apple to step up to the till.