Music Technology is slowly changing. It’s adopting to consumer needs by giving music fans access to music anytime, almost anywhere, from anyplace.
New models like Rdio and Spotify allow us to search and listen for pretty much anything as long as there’s a solid network connection + computer or smart phone. We can easily create playlists and share them with friends. We can discover new music and in the case of Spotify, collaborate on dynamic playlists and create artist or decade-centric radio stations.
Old models like Rhapsody work like a storefront while granting us access to music in exchange for a monthly subscription fee. This model, although advanced at the time, still doesn’t allow us to see other users’ playlists or collaborate in an interactive way.
MOG is a strong contender in the marriage of content with editorial. With a firehose of musical content coming at us constantly, it’s nice to have direction from tastemakers to learn about what’s worth checking out.
Most notably, portability has become a reality with the development of apps for the smart phone. On the open-source Android platform, music specific apps like iMusic and Chompin make listening to music on the go a breeze – and are possibly the cleverest of the new breed.
Both apps aggregate music from blogs rather than hosting the content locally.
iMusic snags it’s musical database from what users are already listening to, similar to how Last.fm agreggates possibly one of the largest collections of music metadata on the internet simply by leveraging the data provided by its users.
By aggregating music from blogs, both services eschew potential legalities of making music available that hasn’t been officially released to the marketplace yet. It also broadens search.
Crawling blogs makes the odds of finding the exact track one is looking for – a b-side, remix, or live version – much greater.
This is particularly important because music fans take pride in discovering something new and/or exclusive. We invest our time in these sites. It’s disappointing when we can’t get access to music we know is out there. We can’t play DJ, or personalize playlists on your site as much as we’d like to.
What iMusic and Chompin are doing is brilliant, not only because it makes the user experience better – but it’s also indicative of a newer and perhaps broader way of purchasing music.
Labels are still hesitant to leave content in the hands of consumers. Sure, we download illegal promos, search for torrents of leaked albums, and unflinchingly pass along un-licensed mixtapes. But in truth this isn’t a bad thing.
Here’s why: music fans do it feverishly. They do it with a passion. They chomp at the proverbial bit for these leaks.
We want to be tastemakers. We’re eager to be the first to tell our friends about something new. And when we like it, we’re telling everyone we know. Hyperdistribution, anyone? Even according to the old business model, this remains the single best way to acquire a superfan.
If a record has stickiness, it can be released into the wild and it WILL be noticed.
It might not be picked up on the traditional charts but you’ll see it on Hype Machine. It’ll appear on We Are Hunted. You’ll see friends dedicate singles to one another and watch viral videos over and over again. Let these users decide what they like. Give them access to everything, and keep an eye on the numbers. If the music is good and the marketing power behind the band is smart enough – the revenue will follow.
The concept of music ownership is affected by the aforementioned technologies anyway. Why would I want to tend to my un-wieldy music collection when I can queue up a playlist in the cloud?
To be clear, ownership is not going away. It’s simply changing.
If I can listen to a full, lo-fi version of a amazing record on repeat – for free – I’ll gladly shell out my hard-earned moolah for hi-res WAV files.
I’ll buy a ticket to the show when the band comes to town. If I’m in love with a particular record (which tends to happen every week with die-hard music fanatics), I’ll see them again and again. I’ll be inclined to purchase vinyl or limited-edition items like prints and other merch.
Make music more accessible – and let the fans decide.
If it’s good enough, they’ll tell their friends. And buy concert tickets. And a hi-res copy of the album. And subscribe to the fan club.
And so on, and so on.
A Rant on Accessibility, Part 1
Musings: Crafting Mixtapes in a Digital Age