Facebook today announced a new Listen With button in Facebook Chat. As its name implies, the feature lets you listen to music with friends on the social network. Listen With Friends will start rolling out to all of Facebook's 800 million users over the next few weeks. For now, only two music services support Listen With Friends: Spotify and Rdio, but more are coming soon.
So, what does new function let you do exactly? Well, you can listen along with any of your friends who are currently listening to music: the same song at the exact same time. You can also listen together in a group, as long as one of your friends is designated the DJ (the person who was listening to music first). Unfortunately, there's a limitation: the DJ can't be changed; if he or she wants to leave, you'll all have to do so as well and rejoin another Facebook Chat session with a new DJ.
Here's how to use the new feature. First, you have to look for a music note beside your friends' names in Facebook Chat. If you see a friend listening to music, you can listen in by hovering over their name, and clicking the Listen With button. The music will play through the service your friend is using, allowing you both to simultaneously listen to the same songs.
When I first heard of the feature, I thought it would mean the song would be streamed to you even if you don't have your friend's music service, but this is not the case. "No, both parties will need the music service," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "If your friend is listening to a song on Spotify, and you don't. If you click to listen with them, you'll be prompted to install Spotify."
Since this new feature is part of Facebook Chat, you can talk about what you're listening to. Other friends can listen along by joining the party in a group chat. Up to 50 friends can join in. If you want to stop listening in with others, you can pause the current song, start playing a different one, or just close your music app.
When you start listening with a friend, Facebook will also publish a story to your friends (in their Ticker and sometimes in their News Feed too) that says "Friend A is listening to music with Friend B." If you're worried about privacy, the Facebook Help Center should quell your fears:
Who can see I'm listening with a friend?
Only the people you've shared your listening activity with can see when you're listening with a friend. You can control privacy settings in music apps when you install the app or on your App Settings page after you've installed the app. You can also remove songs you listened to from your timeline on your private activity log.
"Music is one of the most powerful and fun ways to connect," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "Whether it's at a concert with a bunch of people or on a long car ride with your best buddy, we love listening to music with our friends. We hope you enjoy listening with friends!"
This is an awesome move on Facebook's part. Everyone likes to listen to music with their friends. This addition means you can do so even when you're not with them: be that at work, at home, or on the go. Facebook wants to make music as successful on its service as games are. With features like this, the company will definitely get there soon.