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« A Musician's Guide To Setting And Achieving Goals For 2011 | Main | Should Digital Collections Be Worth Something? »
Monday
Jan032011

The Day Spotify Changed The World

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.

Reader Comments (14)

I'm seriously looking forward to using my free Rdio subscription in 2011. :)

January 3 | Registered CommenterChris Bracco

Nice readable post.. Generally I agree with your social music vision - for some sub sections of the population. Specifically though, I am doubtful that FB and Spotify will capture disproportionate, across-the-board mindshare when it comes to North American music consumption. There will be lots of competing options and research is showing that most people would rather just listen than fiddle. Two generations, or twenty years from now, when it's glued into everything, everyone will probably do some sort of music-based socializing.

January 3 | Registered CommenterBruce Warila

I'm still a little skeptical. I'm a heavy sharer of music (YouTube tunes, stuff on soundcloud and my own DJ sets), but I don't see the type of interaction you're enthusiastic about.

Tastes in music are highly personal... and although I find that I have a great taste in music, and perhaps some of my friends do as well, the great (humongous) majority of my friends simply don't care.

Facebook, for me, is a place where I meet with the friends I know in real life... and while some of their recommendations are cool, most are not. This is what was so cool about MySpace and what's cool about genre communities or private torrent trackers specializing in certain genres: it's a way to connect to and learn from a whole lot of people you didn't know yet.

I think Facebook is too much of a closed network for the above predictions to ever succeed and I fear that Spotify, because of its high dependency on this, will also never really become what they could. Currently, I think Spotify severely lacks discoverability. They depend solely on Facebook friends, of which I have about 500. Out of those 500, only about 30-40 have connected with their Spotify accounts, of those 30-40, there are only like 3 active users. Out of those users, only 2 ever share a song on Facebook and very sporadically so.

I don't share your optimism, in terms of these two particular networks connecting. I do believe that music & social networks will be big, but the right balance must be found. It's not MySpace, it wasn't imeem, it's not reverbnation and it's probably not Facebook either... Twitter is alright, but I don't think any of these could take it to the massive scale you're talking about.

Something is definitely about to happen, you're right about that, but I disagree with the specifics.

Also, when playing music the time on site is indeed increased, but you could just put the site in a tab and browse other sites while the music is playing. In that sense, photos or videos are definitely more interesting content + I don't see why people that don't use Facebook now (to share their lives), would suddenly start using it just to share music?

January 3 | Unregistered CommenterBas

What will Spotify look like in US. since the majors now own a piece of it?

January 3 | Unregistered Commenternewmorning

Every time someone streams one of my band's (Cooler by the Lake) songs on Spotify, we get $0.0001000!

January 3 | Unregistered CommenterRory Lake

Agree entirely with @Bruce Warila and @Bas. In fact, I believe the importance of music as a "social" experience is overestimated by people in their teens and 20s. Sharing music with your friends is simply not a priority activity for most people as they move into their 30s and 40s. No amount of wishing will make it so. Entrepreneurs in their 20s have no perspective on what it's like to be older, This may cause some serious miscalculations.

Kyle writes: "The barriers to consuming and sharing music are simultaneously lowered, making sociality the norm." This borders on magical thinking. Simply lowering barriers to sharing does not guarantee anything of the sort. Sharing photos has nothing to tell us about sharing music. It takes half a second to look at a photo. It takes three or four minutes to listen to a song. People are inherently interested in what their friends look like and the interesting places they've been too. People are not inherently interested in what their friends are listening to. I have any number of friends I love to pieces but would go insane if I were trapped listening to their favorite music.

I agree with what Bas said, your vision for and expectation of social music sharing and interaction is quite over inflated. Nevertheless, thanks for keeping hopes up.

then there's the issue of "illegal sharing" economy where sadly there seems to be little money for us content creators and producers, the majority of the funds monetized are kept by networks - be they Facebook/Yahoo/Google or the ISPs.

change will have to come via legislation making ISPs accountable for content streamed through their pipes/networks as well as revision/overhaul to the DMCA which has been a watershed of pirates whether small/innocent or large/corporate types.

January 3 | Unregistered CommenterGerry

I'm very skeptical and this was the first article I've read that made me see it from the other side. I think you've got a solid case here and this was excellent writing, too. Hats off and I appreciate it.

January 3 | Unregistered CommenterJustin Boland

@Gerry: I'd rather have piracy than ISPs having to monitor all traffic and being held accountable for criminal activities. It will cripple the entire internet. It would be one of the most disastrous things that could happen to the world, because it would mean the sudden end of an economic boom.

There's enough ways to make it as a so-called content owner. Music has never been an industry, so no reason to start making special laws for it which infringe heavily upon civil liberties and would stifle innovation.

Study very carefully the effects of such legislation and ask yourself if that would really be best for the world. I'd rather be in the music biz in a free world, than making tons of cash in the music biz in a monitored state where the messenger gets to pay up for the bad deeds of others.

January 3 | Unregistered CommenterBas

I do see some people using Last FM in a way similar to what your describing on Facebook, but not too many. The thing that will probably end up working to make music bigger again in the social networking sphere will probably be some kind of video game based thing. Because it seems like people love those little app games on Facebook. I'm just riding the wave at this point....

2000-2010 is over a decade... I guess the point still stands, though. Kind of.

January 4 | Unregistered CommenterHamish

Really nice article Kyle, I just posted this out to my network on twitter and facebook.

We have had spotify in the UK for a year or so and it was the first time that my Dad ever called me and told me to look at a site.

We all seem to have a spotify party at least once a week and if Itunes wasn't such a giant I would be calling it the killer.

Apple with respond somehow, they have to.

Chris

I would have to agree with Brian. I really can't see Daniel EK's point at all. The big difference between photos and music is time of consumption. The amount of time it would it take to listen to a playlist vs. a photo album is huge.

Being British I have the luxury of Spotify, but I really don't see why you guys in the States just embrace Groove Shark? If anything, at least you don't have to put up with the annoying adverts after every 8th song. It really does get annoying when you're sitting around the Xmas tree with Frank Sinatra singing his heart out only for a commercial about windows to blurt out.

Music as an social interaction is being talked about like it is the future? MySpace anyone? My Space's slow death was it tried to do too much. I'm sure Zuckerburg is racking his brains for inventive ways to engage audiences for longer, but music is not that answer. Gaming maybe.

January 4 | Unregistered CommenterShea Warnes

I totally agree and this resource sharing is bound to grwo bigger in 2011, already the number of users is astronomical in the facebook games arena

Farmville Cheats
Cityville Cheats
Cafe World Cheats

April 11 | Registered CommenterJay Hines

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