Thursday, December 13, 2012

Spotify Discovers Music Discovery Isn't Social

Spotify log image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Last week Spotify introduced its updated user interface, something that users have been awaiting for some time. While this might seem all about the the features of the service, it's really a concession to the way people discover music when it comes right down to it.

If you've read Music 3.0 or attended any of my seminars, you know that there's always a section at the end called "What Next?" where I outline the coming technology and how it will affect our online lives in the near future. One of the predictions in this is section is "a new set of influencers" that people will follow to help them discover new music. In the traditional media past, that was the job of a radio DJ in the old beginning of FM days, or a selected reviewer in a music magazine. Soon that job will flow to a few trusted online sources, like Pitchfork, for instance.

Up until last week, Spotify flew in the face of that theory, figuring that music discovery was more of a social event. If you're friends liked something, chances are you would to listen as well. Their view on that has changed however. At the press conference last week, Spotify founder Daniel Ek acknowledged,
"Social has always been a very big part of what we do at Spotify. But finding people who can introduce you to music you care about has been hard. There are only a handful of people who are expert curators of music."
Ek goes on to say that these curators will be "journalists, trendsetters, and the artists themselves.....not just your friends, but really anyone on the music graph."

Yes, it's the "tastemakers" that we tend to discover music from, not our friends, at least much of the time. Ek goes on to say,
"For me, music is not social but is, in fact, the most personal cultural artifact imaginable. So when Spotify has shown me what my friends are listening to, I just realize this - I love my friends, but I hate their music."
The service will now suggest music to listeners not based on what their friends are listening to, but more on what they have listened to in the past, as well as known tastemakers. These new features are in beta testing now, and are slated to roll out at the beginning of the new year.

Seems like a step in the right direction, as long you follow the right influencer.

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