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Facebook Tackles Music, Movies

Facebook today launched two new Pages for music and film aimed at getting musical artists and film makers on the site. The new pages are templates for artists that include applications specifically designed for music and film, such as a reviews app, a Flash player, and the Facebook music player, as well as officially co-branded Facebook apps from sites such as iLike and Fandango.

Facebook Pages launched in November along with the ill-fated Beacon and Social Ads advertising platforms, and it has been used by many musical artists and film distributors for the past three months. But by officially unveiling the new template pages — which will be pitched to artists at SXSW in March — Facebook is taking aim at smaller artists and filmmakers. Or in other words, going after the bread and butter of MySpace.

MySpace Music has been around since the site’s inception in the late 90s, and has been one of the site’s greatest success stories. In fact, MySpace has pointed to use by hollywood stars and musicians as a key reason for its success. So it is no wonder that Facebook wants to attract those users and attack its chief rival at its most dominant point. How has it done so far? A quick random sample of two recent movies and two popular music acts paints an interesting picture (the numbers stated are “friends” on MySpace profiles and “fans” on Facebook Pages):

What does that mean? It is far to early to declare either site the winner, but clearly MySpace generally has a commanding lead on Facebook, especially when it comes to music. Even looking at the experience of a friend of mine who is an independent musical artist, his success on MySpace is far greater than that on Facebook (he doesn’t have a Facebook Page yet, but does have an account on Facebook, and has 469 friends there vs. nearly 12,000 on MySpace).

But the numbers also show that people on Facebook are interested in hooking up with their favorite bands and movies. And while MySpace offers a lot more in the way of visual customization — something artists might be keen on — Facebook has some distinct advantages. For example, their music player allows an unlimited number of tracks, as opposed to just six, and they can be linked to a purchase location. Further, Facebook has a mature platform where developers can create useful applications that artists and filmmakers can use to enhance their pages, as opposed to MySpace’s love-hate relationship with widget makers and a still unlaunched developer platform. From a technology and artist utility standpoint, it’s conceivable that Facebook could catch up to MySpace on music very quickly, if it hasn’t already.

Aside from its already massive installed base of artists and fans, MySpace does still have one huge advantage over Facebook, customization. The very thing that is perhaps the key most noticeable difference between the two networks, the ability for people to customize their home pages, is also one of the key reasons why music and film work better on MySpace than on Facebook — because it allows artists to spread their work virally. Until Facebook bakes in the ability for people to more fluidly embed media on their profiles (the Share option just isn’t as obvious and powerful as MySpace’s built in music player), we’re skeptical that it can compete with MySpace for fan attention in these areas. Unfortunately for Facebook, that’s a change that would likely meet a lot of resistance from its users.

What do you think of Facebook’s new Music and Film Pages? Are they enough to take on MySpace? Would you rather Facebook leave Hollywood out of the picture all together and focus specifically on its regular users? Let us know in the comments.

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