As much as the headlines speak of a forthcoming epic clash between Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) in streamed music, Facebook may ultimately be the one to lead the movement forward. The social network is working with Spotify on a fully integrated service that could launch within two weeks, Forbes reports.
For those unfamiliar, Spotify has a catalog of more than 13 million tracks delivered via the Web to 10 million listeners, 1 million of whom have signed up for paying accounts. Artists and musicians are paid every time a user clicks one of their songs. Warner Music (NYSE: WMG ) is a partner.
Spotify is only available in various European countries as of this writing. Thus, if Forbes' reporting is accurate and "Facebook Music" is launched in two weeks, only listeners in those regions will get access to streaming. Statesiders like me will have to wait.
So be it. The service sounds like it'll be worth the wait. Instead of navigating to a separate fan page as users do now, Facebook would embed Spotify on users' home screens in the left navigation tab -- in the same list that includes links to photos and events. It's a level of integration that should please music-fancying Facebookers.
Which, honestly, should surprise exactly no one. Napster co-founder Sean Parker was involved in the early days of Facebook and is an investor in Spotify through his role at the Founders Fund. These two companies were meant to work together.
But there's also a broader theme at work here. Like Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) , Facebook is racing to aggregate commercial content. The difference is Facebook also wants to socialize movies and music. Amazon.com and peer Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) are only interested in playing postman. Google, too, if the beta of Google Music that I'm experimenting with now fails to go beyond its current Cloud Player-like interface.
In this sense, Apple may be Facebook's primary target with a Spotify offering. The Mac maker has socialized iTunes with the introduction of Ping. Trouble is, most of the (ahem) socializing is artists broadcasting tour dates to fans.
Forbes says no money is changing hands in the deal, but the very act of powering a social music service could mean Zynga-like money for Spotify while granting Facebook an edge in its quest to be the online entertainment platform of choice.
Who else is poised to profit from the rise of digital on-demand services? Take a minute to watch this free video right now, and you'll walk away with a richer understanding of the opportunity cloud computing offers to investors.