Dear Facebook: Please Notice My Music App

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If you believe that intense competition breeds better products, then you’re undoubtedly happy with the situation surrounding Facebook musician apps.

RootMusic stretched to an early lead and has millions in funding; Sonicbids is furiously expanding into the arena, and ReverbNation just rebranded its app and even delivered some cutting-edge email features this week.  FanBridge is also now seriously in the game following their DamntheRadio acquisition, and that’s just the start.

Meanwhile, Facebook has publicly revealed a ‘hands off’ philosophy: they provide the platform, you guys build the services.  So, why aren’t any of these great music apps mentioned in the recently-launched Music on Facebook starter guide (facebook.com/music)?  The site was recently relaunched (with nearly 200,000 likes), and Facebook promised a great resource for all.  “Whether you’re a musician, have a job in the music industry, or simply love good tunes, this is the Page to stay up-to-date with what is happening in music on Facebook,” the Page greets.

But for the band just starting out, this is mostly just a guide on how to build a music-related Facebook Page – not a more sophisticated and serious presence.  In fact, a setup tutorial will help a band do just that, using existing, native Facebook tools and apps like Facebook Video – not outside services.  It takes a few seconds to get started with something simple, and undoubtedly a lot of bands will stop at that.  Even some referenced article guides hardly mention the myriad of outside music apps.  And for those craving something more sophisticated, Facebook points to a list of preferred developers – not apps.

Facebook has offered little clarify on the matter – go figure – though perhaps this is an expanding work in progress.  But it also highlights a major vulnerability for startups like RootMusic, whose models are extremely dependent on a somewhat-unpredictable and opaque master.  People complain that Facebook doesn’t explain its every move, and it’s debatable whether they have that obligation.  But if Facebook ever decides to seriously own music – and the musician and fan relationship – you can flush millions of startup cash down the toilet.