If you're a music fan, you probably don't care about this. But if you're not one of Facebook's chosen music partners, it's cold on the outside. Which is the case for Cole Flournoy, the entrepreneur behind LetsListen who's pointing to Facebook+Spotify as an overly-cozy, unfairly insider, and downright anti-competitive alliance - especially after the launch of 'Listen With Me'. Here's his statement.
OK, so here’s the deal… Facebook's brand new 'Listen with me' feature that's been getting so much attention – LetsListen already has it, and its had it for a long time. So why haven't you heard about it? Because Facebook hasn't allowed you to see it.
To date, Facebook has only allowed certain companies with special insider deals to integrate with ticker feed. They've given the "insider" companies an enormous and unfair head start to be the first to market with this new extremely powerful feature, and left all others out in the cold to wait.
For example, prior to the F8 conference in Septemeber of 2011 (where ticker feed was announced), Facebook had already made a secret deal with Spotify to let them integrate with ticker feed long before the majority of their competitors even knew about it or were allowed to apply. In exchange for this huge advantage, Spotify had to agree to solely use Facebook as its user account login mechanism.
Spotify posts every single song you play to the ticker feed, and so what this insider deal did was allow Spotify to completely dominate the ticker feed and gain major market share while 99% of the would-be competitors were simply excluded from competing. Many have recognized this anti-competitive head start as the primary driving force behind's Spotify’s success in the US thus far.
LetsListen is certainly one of those competing apps that could have been first to market with the "Listen with me" feature, had we not been excluded. We have had this feature ready long before Spotify, but Facebook just hasn't let us show it to anybody yet. Here is a video of it in action (made using developer test accounts):
Zuck if you are out there, let us in. We're a small bootstrapped startup in the "working out of the apartment phase," but we're scrappy and we think we have integrated with the ticker feed in a better way than any other music apps out there. We don't require any download, we don't force the user to authorize with Facebook before using our app, and we are free forever. We also have a more social group listening experience where our users can share and suggest music to each other in real time. So please, approve us and let us compete with the big boys, we're ready.
The User Friday, January 13, 2012
The Internet was supposed to level the playing field between small and large companies. Unfortunately, the big boys are now squeezing out the small guys. Time to create more search competition...
@mr_trick Friday, January 13, 2012
@anish337 Friday, January 13, 2012
Anti-competitive to the max!
@glacialconcepts Friday, January 13, 2012
Of course it is anti-competitive, but does it meet the requirements to consider it a violation of the antitrust statutes? That is the question that needs to be answered before you can expect any changes.
Anonymous Friday, January 13, 2012
I'm sorry, this article is a crock. If one company merely strikes a deal with another company -- and they aren't even competitors -- it is not "anti-competitive". It's called "that's how business works" and it's completely legal and ethical.
Jos Smolders EARLabs Saturday, January 14, 2012
Word! People go for the option that is the most appropriate for their needs. IN other words: which is the most 'cozy'. There hardly is something like 'over-cozy'.
Spotify teamed up with FB and made a wise decision, business wise. And what other wise is there for a business?
It's up to the competition to come up with something even cozier and people will roll over to that option. Something like customer loyalty is wafer thin these days.
mdti Monday, January 16, 2012
if spotify pays something, then anyone else can get the same by paying the same thing. It appears that if facebook is sued, they should lose. abuse of dominant position, exists also in the US... 'caue that's not how business and free markets is meant to work, even in ultra capitalist countries
Crazy kid Friday, January 13, 2012
Did you not read the article? He isn't complaining soley about Spotify getting a deal with Facebook, he's complaining that his music app isn't even visible on Facebook via it's news feed. Frankly I'm getting sick of big companies favoring certain products because they don't want to be competed with.
yaa Friday, January 13, 2012
one of Spotify's main investors is Shaun Parker (facebook cofounder) obviously he is going to strike up a deal with his old company...kind of a no brainer
is that really anti-competitive? sounds like the rich get richer
Really? Friday, January 13, 2012
I appreciate the argument, but seriously, this is business guys...
Daniel Ek was slinging code and making money when he was in his early teens over a decade ago and built a career and business to where it is now. Was he ahead of the curve? not really, maybe just doing longer (which allowed him to establish himself and leverage his skill and net worth). Spotify offers a lot more than another 3rd party app, let's be real here.
There are a lot of people working out of their apartment, not everyone gets seed money, not everyone gets their foot in the door or gets a break. Nepotism runs rampant. That's reality.
Facebook is beholden to no one, big guy, little guy, whatever.
They're an entitiy unto themselves, they do what they want.
Mr. Flournoy, this kind of sounds like whining.
Maybe time to start focusing on another app or platform...
The real danger is the Old Gua Saturday, January 14, 2012
Not the new ones. FB and Spotify seem just fine to me and I enjoy both. Frankly, I'm all for any advantages to Spotify since it needs them. I've met Daniel Ek. He is down to earth and a good guy. Subscription music can be the Mighty Mouse of the day but the Labels - and some artists/management holdouts from Spotify - would love to turn back the clock and have everyone go back to buying music. After trying Spotify for two months of my free 6 month trial, I decided to become a paid subscriber. Having it on my iPhone is great and it's the best thing ever as far as music is concerned. But the labels will be renegotiating their deal with Daniel and Company after the first 2 years. It's this simple: if Spotify is NOT strong enough by then, it may get literally nickel and dimed out of viability by the Labels. Talk about collusion! There's your culprit! So more power to Spotify, Shaun and Daniel, and the sniveling little crybabies can kiss my butt.
Really! Saturday, January 14, 2012
This is really a matter of market share, on both sides of the coin. If Spotify can get really moving in the next year and a half or so, literally gaining millions, if not tens of millions of paid users, It will have a lot more bargaining power when it goes back to the negotiation table.
However, regardless of that the majors have the greatest market share as far as content, period, the end.
Until people stop listening the massive catalogs of tens of thousands of artists from the past, (and a few from now) this is what we're dealing with.
I'm starting to think that Ek might be able to get the early investors bought out in time to get the thing to scale, not too dissimilar to what Twitter just did (though they still haven't figured out how to effectively monetize the service).
For Spotify it's really more about when then how.
Oh, the other option if the don't get nickel and dimed out: The majors buy THEM out.
Well... Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The majors know they can't turn back the clocks and that's why they have equity stakes in Spotify. Pretty easy to see that most Spotify holdouts are management-driven (all you have to do is connect the dots).
Alex Saturday, January 14, 2012
I'm no lawyer but big stretch to call this anti-competitive.
Facebook-Spotify don't have a monopoly on listening in anyway and they're allowing other companies to do it as well (ok, so a little head start).
Good sensational headline to bash Spotify again and PR stunt by LetListen though.
mdti Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Monopoly is probably the tiniest part of competition law.
Distribution, relationships between makers, distributors, and consumers, is what has been developped under anti-competition laws in the last 10 years.
great read Saturday, January 14, 2012
i like letsme so much,please send your article in businessinsider.com
Marcos Lara Saturday, January 14, 2012
the truth is, if you want to be on the inside you need to work for it. FB does not 'STOP' anyone from becoming a partner, but you need to earn it with FB. work hard, meet with them, impress them. then you will get on their radar screen. that is how AudioVroom became a early open graph partner. how do i know so much? i am a co-founder of AudioVroom. how did a little 3 man music company get noticed? by presenting kick ass technology at a Hack Day where FB was watching. that was a year ago. sounds like the founder of "listenWithMe" is complaining that his team did not get out there enough, make an impression and get noticed. sounds like a marketing problem more than anti-competitive issue to me. and frankly i have been working in digital music since 1999 and i have never heard of this company, which says more about them than about me. PLEASE understand, i am not being a hater here, i am also a scrappy startup guy, but you create your own destiny. stop crying and start innovating and marketing BEFORE the show is over. btw, the 'co-listening' ship sailed about 6 months ago. if you were not in bed with FB or spotify back then, it was already to late. early bird get the worm. what else do you have up your sleeve besides 'co-listen'? please tell me you have not pinned all your hope to that single feature?
email@example.com Saturday, February 11, 2012
You are right, we haven’t yet gotten in front of the right people at Facebook. That was actually the point of putting out this blog post. In it, we are simply stating what happened and asking that they let us have access like others in the “insider” group. Maybe you can help us with your contact?
I think Facebook really intends to make Open Graph actually “open”, but that they just are not implementing that plan very well at this point. For example, it makes sense that being as this is a new feature they need to beta test it on a small scale first. But instead of just giving that opportunity to a select few companies, it would be a lot better if they could at least allow other Startups to apply to be apart of that initial beta. As of Feb 10th, 2012 though – we still are waiting and have heard nothing from Facebook.
But – good point about the hackday you went to where you got noticed. I actually read your comment weeks ago and got tickets to the Music Hack Day event which is tomorrow. Hope to see you there. We’ll be at SF Music Tech as well. And, yes - we have quite a few other tricks up our sleeves. Keep an eye out at LetsListen.com
Nick Saturday, January 14, 2012
I thought everyone was able to use ticker and open graph? Facebook's developer site says that it's open graph is avalible to all developers now.
HOG Sunday, January 15, 2012
LetsListen appears to be part interactive stream for which which they do not have a license and most likely has issues to move forward. Ultimately I think they would run into a licensing problem and probably would not make it past Facebook tire kick.
Cole Flournoy Friday, February 10, 2012
Nope, actually we pay all our license fees for the music that is listened too -- see http://letslisten.com/index.php/pages/about
@AidanDT Sunday, January 15, 2012
The evil of Facebook?
@harmen_h Sunday, January 15, 2012
Guess this is just a smart move on Spotify's end.. Also, Spotify has the biggest reach, who can blame FB?
@Cskoyles Sunday, January 15, 2012
An evil alliance or just business?
@RihannaForums Sunday, January 15, 2012
LetsListen beat Facebook to social group listening months ago.
Adam Tuesday, January 17, 2012
First of all, this isn' "unfair" and yeah, for the companies not involved, it is anti-competitive. And there is no law out there saying that two competitive companies in a capitalist world can't make a deal and keep you out of it. Now I don't happen to love spotify, and I'm not really defending them here. I'm more pointing out the whiny tone of your article. Its silly. Network better. Get into the inner circles. Do what you have to do. But don't expect that there's some force of fairness out there that should just let you in. This is business, silly! Companies are going to work together to succeed, and to keep others out. This ain't no telephone company so to speak, there are no monopoly issues at play here.
Furthermore, I think you should reconsider your position. While facebook might have helped get the spotify logo and a link in front of people faster, it sucks. I'm sorry, but I don't want you in my ticker on FB. I ALSO DON'T want spotify in my ticker. It has actually commandeered facebook such that now, instead of seeing what people are actually doing, all I can do is see what people are listneing to. Out of an average of, say, 100 ticker feed posts, it looks like at least 80 of those are from spotify.
Finally, let me point out that I don't care what you are listening to. In fact, I don't want to know when you are listening to music and it pisses me off that I am updated with other people's music habits all day. What you guys call "trending" I call talking to people about what they listen to. Listen guys, I get it. You want to play with the big boys. So go, have fun, but in the end its just a stupid ticker. There's a lot more to get mad about out there.
mdti Wednesday, January 18, 2012
And there is no law out there saying that two competitive companies in a capitalist world can't make a deal and keep you out of it.
two competitive companies cannot make a deal and keep you out of it without very objective reasons.
Cole Flournoy Friday, February 10, 2012
I agree with you, personally - in most cases I don’t want my songs I am listening to published out to Facebook. Of course, when I want my friends to come join me, I do. That’s why we’ve put a huge “Public” on/off switch at the top of the app, we make it dead simple to turn off Facebook auto posting - see for yourself at letslisten.com. Spotify actually had a huge backlash initially from users because they didn’t have an option to turn off ticker posting at all. They added that ability now, but it’s a setting buried in a preferences menu.
@Innerviews Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Dalton Priddy Thursday, January 19, 2012
The Googles and Facebook have their darling underlings do theIR dirty work while they plant ads alongside questionable illegal content and watch their net worth jump riding on the backside of creative content creators.
The current blackout yesterday shows how far they can flex their muscle using lost freedom scar tactics to over-ride common sense and logic.
I for one dream of a day when someone comes along and pulls the carpet from underneath them. They need to me driven back into the underworld where they belong.