As Facebook ponders entering music fray, iLike hits 23 million users

John Shinal · March 5, 2008 · Short URL:

As Facebook reportedly talks with the big record labels about acquiring their music for its own possible online service, iLike says it has now has 23 million users.

The two data points emphasize once again how much upside there is for new media sites to have a social networking story. Although iLike started as a way to discover new or unsigned bands, the heft of its user base has attracted big-name acts to create their own pages, interact with fans and in some cases release music directly to the site.

iLike's growth is also evidence of the benefits of having an open platform, which allows music fans across the Web -- from iTunes to a host of social networks -- to use it as a discovery tool.  It's already the leading music application on Facebook and Bebo and will soon be expanding to MySpace and Orkut. Since it has been shown to prompt users to expand their music libraries, the people at Apple and everywhere else welcome it.

Check out the video pitch from iLike CEO Ali Partovi, which was filmed at the San Francisco Music Festival in February. 

Given its proprietary platform approach, Facebook has no such network of friendly partners that its users can tap to find out what people on other social networks are listening to -- something that iLike is already doing for Facebook users.

Thanks to its own huge user base, Facebook would make an attractive distribution channel for the music labels, providing enough incentive for the deal to get done. But it's hard to imagine that Facebook could get better terms than Steve Jobs got for iTunes, which is not so much a profitable business as a way to sell more iPods.

And for consumers, it's hard to see what Facebook will offer that its users can't already get from iLike, and that music fans can't find elsewhere on the Web. 

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