A little more than three weeks ago, the online social networking site Facebook debuted the most recent version of its Platform, which now allows users to upload third-party applications and services into their profiles. With the new version, users can add applications that allow them to track prices on Amazon.com, post sudoku puzzles or even be alerted when new Barack Obama campaign news is made public. But the application proving by far the most popular is iLike, which lets Facebook users add music to their profiles, see what their friends are listening to and which concerts they plan to attend, browse the libraries of people with similar tastes, and get artist recommendations. In the short time since it was unveiled on Facebook, more than 3,300,000 users have added iLike to their profiles, with an additional 300,000 following suit every day.
While other music recommendation services, like Last.fm and MOG, rely on word of mouth to find new users, iLike takes advantage of Facebook's social networks. When one Facebook user adds the application, all his or her friends automatically get a message telling them about it. iLike is a decidedly viral phenomenon.
Fish both big and little stand to benefit from iLike's outbreak. After adding Bob Dylan to my Facebook profile's list of "Favorite Music," iLike directed me to free MP3s of music by "related" independent musicians I never would have heard of otherwise (and some of whom were actually pretty good). Unfortunately, the price-gouging, service-charging annoyance that is Ticketmaster, which owns 25 percent of iLike, is also well positioned to gain from the service's popularity. In addition to informing me that Dylan was on tour and giving me the dates and locations of his shows, iLike offered a "Find Tickets" tab that linked directly to a Ticketmaster purchasing page -- which I've been visiting and revisiting all morning, trying to justify dropping $35.50, plus a $10.35 "convenience fee," on the cheapest seat in the house. Thanks, iLike!
-- David Marchese