Facebook announced an expanded partnership with music streaming service Spotify that will provide a new way to listen to music or podcasts directly within the Facebook app, which it called Project Boombox. The companies are implementing this integration through a new “mini player” experience that will allow Facebook users to stream from Spotify through the Facebook app on iOS or Android. The feature will be available to both free Spotify users and Premium subscribers.
The player is an extension of the social sharing option already supported by the Spotify app. Now, when Spotify users listen to content they want to share on Facebook, they will be able to tap the existing “Share” menu and then tap “Facebook” or “Facebook News Feed.”
When a user posts an individual track or podcast episode to Facebook through this sharing feature, the post will now be displayed in a new player that allows others who come across the post to also play the content as they continue to scroll or share it.
Paid Spotify subscribers will be able to access the full playback. Meanwhile, free users will be able to listen to the full shared track, not a clip. But then, they will continue to listen to ad-supported content in Shuffle mode, just as they would in Spotify’s own app.
One important thing to note about how this all works is that the integration allows music or podcast content to be played from within the Spotify app. When a user presses play, an app switch occurs so that the user can log into Spotify. The player triggers and controls startup and playback in the Spotify app, which is how such playback can continue, even when the user scrolls in Facebook or if they minimize the Facebook app entirely.
This setting means that users will need to have the Spotify mobile app installed on their phone and a Spotify account for the player to work. For first-time Spotify users, they will need to sign up for a free account to be able to listen to shared music through the mini player.
Spotify notes that it is not possible to sign up for a paid account through the mini player experience, so there is no revenue sharing with Facebook on new subscriptions. The partnership allows Spotify to leverage Facebook’s reach to gain distribution and drive both subscriptions and repeat usage of its app just when COVID’s surge in subscriber growth may be fading. However, you are still responsible for the royalties paid on streams, just as you were before, because your app is the one that actually does the streaming. It is also completely in charge of the music catalog and the audio ads that play along with the content.
For Facebook, this deal means it now has a valuable tool to keep users spending time on its site, a metric that was declining over the years.
Spotify and Facebook have a long history of working together on music efforts. Facebook in 2011 had been planning an update that would allow music subscription users to interact directly, much like this one. But those plans were later dialed back, possibly due to technical or music rights issues. Spotify was also an early media partner on Facebook, showing in real time what friends were doing on Facebook and other services. And Spotify once offered Facebook login as the default for its mobile app. Today Spotify users on desktop can see what their Facebook friends are streaming on their app, thanks to social network integrations.
The timing for this renewed and expanded partnership is interesting. Now, both Facebook and Spotify have a common enemy with Apple, whose privacy-centric changes are impacting Facebook’s advertising business and whose investments in Apple Music and Podcasts are a threat to Spotify. As Facebook’s music efforts in recent years shifted toward partnership efforts, such as music video integrations enabled by music label deals, it makes sense that it would turn to a partner like Spotify to drive a new streaming feature that supports Facebook’s broader efforts around monetization, tools and services geared toward the creator economy.
The player feature had been tested in markets outside the United States, Mexico and Thailand, prior to its global launch.
In addition to the United States, the integration is being fully rolled out to users in Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Thailand and Uruguay.