Facebook’s New Graph Search and the Future of Artists on Facebook

By Jason Epstein

Earlier this week, Facebook announced their new search feature, Graph Search.  Along with the controversy-ridden News Feed and Timeline, Facebook considers this to be one of their “Three Pillars.” Graph Search is meant to be a private, internal search engine with the categories People, Places, Photos and Interests.  For searches that come up empty, you’ll be dumped onto a Bing search engine results page within Facebook.

This could be a great way to localize and add an unprecedented social element to music.  You could find a friend’s photos of a band or interests associated with a specific genre of music.  You can use Siri-like search terms like “what music do my friends like?” or “what concerts are my friends going to in 2013?” instead of more traditional Google-friendly search terms.  With this new feature, word of mouth music exposure will now be searchable, enabling recommendations from the past to come into the present.  Seeing a friend’s “liked” band can lead to you to “liking” an artist, seeing an upcoming show, or finding an entirely new genre to enjoy.

At around the same time, the new MySpace quietly launched (there will be a more formal and public launch at some point) their revamped site new.myspace.com as a music-oriented social networking venture with Justin Timberlake as its mascot.  Users will be able to post status updates, pictures, or music in addition to using MySpace’s “audio deck” media player.  There’s a “People” tab for subscribing to others’ status updates and a “Discover” function for popular music news.

Will there be competition from MySpace?  It’s possible, but only in the way people consume music and music news.  Facebook is overwhelmingly likely to have a monopoly on the way people interact with each other and every other topic under the sun for the foreseeable future.  But this resurgence still begs the question; could Facebook adopt Myspace-style music players and features for media consumption in the future?  And could that extend to movies and other forms of media?

Graph Search could change music marketing in a big way.  Search Engine Optimization has been helpful for all types of monetization and Graph Search could become one of the most important, influential and widely used search engines out there, facilitating a need for artists to use SEO for high search engine results page rankings in Facebook.  Facebook’s shady dealings could even result in auto-completes being populated with results that point to the page of the highest bidder.

Whatever may come down the line, this is certainly an interesting and worthwhile addition to Facebook that could have an increasing impact on the way we find, consume and share music, both old and new.