Can Facebook Save The Music?

Can’t make money from music in the real world? Then why not do it in a virtual world. Games like Farmville and even Second Life have demonstrated that people will actually pay real money for virtual goods – and music could certainly be considered a ‘virtual good’…

Go Where The Money Is

Luddites complain that weaving machines will put weavers out of business; the sharp entrepreneur sees the opportunity and sets up a production line. By the time the Luddites have finished complaining, they’re too far behind the newly developed mechanical weaving curve to even catch up anymore.

It seems this is a similar scenario to what is currently happening with the major record labels and their litigious reaction to digital music and the Internet. Where they see threats to the status quo, however, others are seeing opportunities.

The amount of time people spend on Facebook is steadily increasing, and the proportion of games played in social networking contexts is likewise growing. Games like Farmville can be very addictive, and people are prepared to spend money to fuel such passtimes.

Panda-ring To The Masses

So what to do? Well, Conduit Labs have devised a game where music is the focus – the Music Pets app for Facebook.

Basically, this game encapsulates many aspects of music discovery in a cutesy animated shell. You have a music pet, which you can train to like music that you like. The more you train it, the better it knows your tastes, and it can then wander off and find other music to recommend to you.


If you don’t play music to your pet, it becomes sad. There is an ecosystem of pet feeding, interacting with other players and song sharing, with various incentives to purchase music along the way – which at the moment is provided through Amazon, and isn’t yet available in Ireland due to the inevitable ‘rights issues’.

Although this model might appeal more to children and teenagers than adults, it won’t be long before they too are adults, bringing with them their new perspective on music consumption – and in fact, there is still a lot of money to be made from the teenage music market.

It’s not clear exactly how successful this specific game will be, but it is certainly an indication of how adapting to new circumstances can produce interesting new approaches to ‘problems’…


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