At the dawn of a new decade, the digital music sector remains unchanged.
Spotify didn’t launch in 2010. If it had though, would we be different now? I think so. Had it been made available in the U.S., an iPod type moment could’ve occurred. It could’ve.
And it still could. I’m not saying this out of blind evangelism either. Looking at the social features of Spotify more closely, I’m starting to believe Daniel Ek’s proclamation that music will displace photos on Facebook in popularity. Photo sharing is the lifeblood of Facebook, as are games like FarmVille and CityVille. Status updates and link sharing also play a big role. We like to see what our friends (and strangers) are doing and hear what they’ve been up to. However, a large majority of people do little with their accounts.
Most people have Facebook, but they don’t use Facebook. They’re not constantly taking pictures and uploading them. Nor are they updating what they’re doing. Spotify will change this. Super easy music sharing will give the least active users on Facebook something to share again. It’s an activity that requires the least amount effort. There’s no typing or fear of future employers or schools checking out your photo albums. It’s just sharing music.
In Spotify, there’s a “What’s New” section; it has a Facebook style NewsFeed.
One day, there will be a NewsFeed in Facebook dedicated to music, powered by Spotify. It will have a player that allows you to stream your music updates while you check out your other messages. One day, Facebook will have a killer music section. Why? It’s simple.
Time spent on site. Music is the best way to increase the amount of time that users spend on Facebook. When Mark Zuckerberg talks about reforming the content industries in five years, this is what he means. Music is vital to making people stay on Facebook longer.
This is why 30 to 90 second song previews in Facebook apps aren’t enough.
The Evolution of Social Music
Spotify is closer than anyone in making music a fluid and social mechanism. You import your Facebook friends into the music service and can instantly drag and drop music suggestions for them to listen to. The barriers to consuming and sharing music are simultaneously lowered, making sociality the norm. These are things that we’ve all been doing anyways – just in a file or link form. Now, the social exchange happens in Spotify.
As Ek told Wired, he aspires to legitimize our illegal music sharing behavior.
Rather than engaging in file sharing through clients, with people we’ve never met, Spotify encourages us to share music with our audience and more importantly, our friends. While people may still desire to download music that can be freely and easily transferred to their iPod or onto CD-Rs, their collection won’t live on their hard drive. It will exist in the cloud.
Music collections are shifting from finite to fluidity – from a siloed experience to a social one. The personal music collection will become intermeshed with the collective hive.
The day will come when users will stream a torrent before they download it.
It’s just a matter of time. Meanwhile, Spotify gives users the ability to preview everything, build huge music collections, and effortlessly share them with their friends. This is the evolution of social music. Everyone’s iPod or iPhone will be interconnected together.
Music will bleed through social networks and establish itself as a social object. Our apps and touch screens will enable us to interact with our music again and we will do so within the presence of each other. The intersection of Spotify, Facebook, and Aweditorium is the future. Next, status bars, achievements, and instantaneous feedback – the key elements of gaming – will become integrated in and find their way into our musical experiences.
This will increase fan engagement. The intersection of contextual music consumption and gaming is the future. The sharing of our music will be rewarded instead of thwarted.
The Future That Never Comes
If Spotify had launched prior to 2011, a media firestorm would’ve resulted. In a way, it’s almost symbolic that they didn’t come stateside. Why? A decade in music closed. Every single music industry tome released in the next twenty years will get to make a bold statement about what the time span from 2000 – 2010 says about the inability of the major labels to embrace change and give fans what they truly wanted. Now, if and when Spotify does launch in this decade, authors will link this to the theme of a new beginning.
Presuming this chapter about the music industry is written, what will it say?
That it took ten years for the major labels to endorse a music service that positioned itself as a counterpoint to music piracy. It will document the continued evolution of social music.
And, as we all hope, it will speak of the revitalization of the music industry. Through Apple getting into the subscription and online streaming business, Google bringing forth it’s music service, Spotify launching in the U.S., and the continued expansion of services like RDIO, MOG, Thumplay Music, Slacker, and Pandora, among other new services, the future of social music came to be. We may even look back on 2000 – 2010 as The Lost Decade.
2011 and onward, the music industry will be reborn. It’s about damn time.