RealTime IT News

Facebook's Got Rhythm, Starts Music Sales

Facebook is going to start selling music at its online gift shop as part of a revamped design and ramped up inventory roll out.

The social networking site started testing the sale of physical goods a few months ago, including such items as flowers and gift baskets, at the Facebook Gift Shop, which is primarily used for virtual products, such as specialty icons.

"We now are unveiling a newly stocked and redesigned Gift Shop, with new categories of gifts and additional gifts for charity, music and sports from developers. With so many gifts available, we also introduced a new design to make it easier for you to browse and purchase gifts with different gift categories. We will be rolling these changes out to everyone in the coming weeks, so don't worry if you don't see them just yet," writes Will Chen, Facebook engineer, at the site's blog.

To buy Facebook gifts, users must purchase credits, which cost $0.10 each, from Facebook by using a credit card.

The "Music and MP3" section of the Gift Shop is being powered by LaLa.com, and offers 8 million songs, said Chen, with prices ranging from one credit or $0.10 to nine credits or $0.99 depending on how the music file is shared and used.

"Gift recipients can play their Web songs and MP3s from their Facebook News Feed and wall as frequently as they like, as well as from LaLa.com if they have an existing account or choose to sign up using Facebook Connect. MP3 recipients also have the added ability to download their songs and enjoy their gift on music players like iTunes and Windows Media Player.

Other people who are able to see the music gift will only be able to play the song in full once, after which they will be able to play a 30-second clip," said Chen.

Also new in the Gift Shop are sports branded icons, for instance users can send a friend a jersey of his or her favorite team, and the ability to buy presents with a portion of proceeds going to charities.

The news of Facebook adding music sales to its site comes as reports surfaced this week that Google will launch its own music offering by blending music files into its search results, allowing users to sample clips and possibly purchase songs as well.

For its part, Facebook has been ramping up efforts to capitalize on its vast 300 million-plus user base by testing different payment methods involving virtual currency needed for games and applications on the site.