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Do we really care what music our friends like?

spotify_hearts_fb

Back in 2011 Spotify said that “Music is one of the most social things there is.” In what sounded like a threat they added “You’ll now start seeing new music posts and play buttons all over your newsfeeds.” And indeed, we did. Even when the posts became more balanced, I never really felt that it was that interesting to know what my friends were listening to (still far more interesting than pictures of food, offspring, or offspring eating food though. You know who you are!).

The other day I came across this article by Robert Andrews where he concludes:

“For me, music is not “social” but is, in fact, the most personal cultural artefact imaginable. So, when Spotify has shown me what my friends are listening to, I just realise this — I love my friends, but I hate their music.”

I think he’s absolutely right – of all possible sources of music recommendation, “what my friends listen to” is probably the least relevant one.

But what’s the real reason for the facebook integration?

I doubt that giving people valuable music recommendations is really the reason why Spotify wants to flood our newsfeeds with music posts. The real reason – and far more compelling at that – is probably just to get some buzz and visibility on facebook, be it relevant or not. If I see 10 times a day that someone in my network listens to SOMETHING on SPOTIFY, there’s a chance that once I decide to try online streaming Spotify’s going to be the first thing that comes to my mind.

In other words, Spotify is currently in the growth stage of the product life cyle. The advertising focus during that phase is typically to build awareness in the mass market (see Kotler’s classic ‘Marketing Management‘ or one of the summaries (e.g.).

In conclusion, Spotify does the absolutely right thing in terms of marketing their product. Helpful recommendations, however, are an entirely different story.

 

17
Jan 2013
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Spotify moving into A&R?

Musically quotes Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify, indicating that Spotify will move more into A&R in the future:

[Y]ou’re going to see us doing more and more to break acts and try to really promote them as well. (source)

Interesting development.

14
Feb 2012
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WiMP enters German market

After the music streaming services Rdio, Rara.com and Deezer only recently entered the German market, yet another player will join the merry crowd : WiMP (yes… let’s hope they change their name for the English-speaking market!) is the name of the service, and users beta access can be requested on their German website www.wimp.de.

So what are they bringing to the market? As Thor Martin Jensen, Global Editorial Manager of WiMP said on musikmarkt.de, editorial content will be at the core of the service. Also, their plan is to allow the music industry to participate in the development of the service.

According to Musikmarkt, WiMP the editorial content will come in the form of playlists, recommendations and other editorial content that’s targeted at the German music market. In addition to offering the latest releases, WiMP will also focus on allowing users to “rediscover the back catalogue”.

Let’s see how that goes. By the way, Spotify, where art thou?

08
Feb 2012
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How to get 2,000 likes in 12h

Deezer UK today pulled quite a trick today: They got about 2,000 (from 499,508 to 501,503) likes in less than 12h.

So here’s what happened: this morning Dezzer tweeted to their 3,200 followers (@DeezerWorld (2,574 followers), @deezeruk (549 followers), @DeezerIRL (95 followers), but not by @deezer with 271,709 followers)

#Deezer is currently at 499,508 likes on Facebook. Go on, help us reach a half a million milestone. on.fb.me/orBrlU ()

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06
Feb 2012
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Piracy is the new radio?

Piracy is the new radio. That’s how music gets around.
(Neil Young at the D: Dive Into Media conference, via allthingsd.com)

As much as I appreciate Neil Young as an artist, I very much don’t agree with this sentiment. For one, if a song is played on the radio, the artist gets royalties. Second, the radio, as opposed to pirated music, is not a substitute for a CD or a legal download (turns out home taping is, after all, not killing music).

Pirated music, on the other hand, is quite a good substitute, as the popularity of piracy demonstrates.

His point is that pirated music may help to promote music. But if music “got around” by piracy, very few people would still buy CDs or legal downloads.

It may not be a perfect substitute, but it’s good enough for most people.

Furthermore, for an established artist such as Neil Young the small number of people that would still buy CDs and go to concerts may be enough to pay his rent, but it would not allow newcomers to survive.

03
Feb 2012
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Social media campaign for new Tom Waits album

The latest Tom Waits album “Bad As Me” (ANTI) has been launched last year with quite a remarkable social media campaign that deserves some credit:


Here’s the order of events

  • Aug 16, 2011: First announcement of upcoming news on Aug 23 (reminder on Aug 22)
  • Aug 23, 2011: Video clip with Tom Waits announcing new album release on Oct 25, contains snippets of new songs
  • Aug 30, 2011: Title track “Bad as me” free stream; pre-order CD, deluxe CD, LP
  • Sep 27, 2011: Single “Back in the Crowd” available as (paid for) download
  • Oct 04, 2011: Track “Back in the Crowd” free stream
  • Oct 11, 2011: Announcement: Full album for streaming available on Oct 17. Mailing list signup. Reminder on Oct 14 (“the only way you will be able to hear the new album (…) before it is released”)
  • Oct 17, 2011: Full album available for streaming; only available to people on mailing list (who received an invite code by email). People with invite codes can invite 5 friends (see below)
  • Oct 18, 2011: Interview on pitchfork.com
  • Oct 18, 2011: Invites code available until Friday (Oct 21)
  • Oct 21, 2011: “Listen with Friends”: Set of local record stores listening parties (US only)
  • Oct 24, 2011: Album available in stores (CD, deluxe limited edition CD (+3 songs), LP
  • Nov 01, 2011: Interview on npr.org
  • Nov 08, 2011: Video for “Satisfied”
  • Nov 23, 2011: Deluxe limited edition CD “available again”
  • Jan 03, 2012: “Best album of 2011” award by Metacritic
    (Unfortunately, as of today, the album is not yet available for streaming on Spotify.)

Here’s a few more screenshots from the invitations campaign:

31
Jan 2012
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Rhapsody Acquires Napster International

Rhapsody announced on Thursday that they have acquired Napster International, i.e., the non-US branch of Napster, which is currently operating in the UK and in Germany.

Unlike in the US, where the Napster brand is put on ice, Rhapsody will retain the Napster brand in the UK and Germany, because of its high brand awareness. The service as such will be replace by Rhapsody technology though, and Napster subscribers will be migrated to Rhapsody’s infrastructure by March.

After more than a decade in the US market, the music streaming pioneer had bought Napster US  from its owner Best Buy back in October 2011. With the acquisition of Napster International, Rhapsody now for the first time moves to foreign territory, shortly after Spotify entering the US market last year.

Rhapsody says they have over 1 million paying subscribers, compared to 3 milion that Spotify claims to have (see yesterday’s post).

28
Jan 2012
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Spotify has over 3 million paying users

According to Music Week, Spotify chief content officer Ken Parks revealed the figure at an industry event at Universal Music UK’s offices. Not bad!

27
Jan 2012
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Rara.com – Music for Everyone?

WHY RARA.COM IS FAILING TO ADDRESS THE MASS MARKET

The other day I pointed out four reasons why Rara.com is worth checking out. While Rara.com certainly brings a fresh breeze into the market, I believe they will have a tough time. Here’s why:

Let’s look again at what lets Rara.com stand out in the ecosystem of streaming services. The biggest difference between Rara.com and the existing players is clearly the user interface, which is designed to be very easy and intuitive. In the launch presentation Rob Lewis, chairman of Rara.com, said that the market of digital music is still in its infancy and has not yet reached the mainstream. Players like Spotify, at the same time, do not address the mainstream market, but a small niche instead:

The graph shows the audience along the two axes “music knowledge” (from “music listener” to “music guru”) and tech knowledge (from tech laggard” to “tech wizard”). According to Lewis, a majority of existing music services (including Spotify, Napster, Pandora, but also iTunes) are “designed for people who know a lot about music and also are technically very literate” (i.e., the upper right quadrant), and fail to meet mainstream requirements. Rara.com, on the other hand, focusses on the remaining untapped market, that represents a majority of 80% of the entire market, according to their analyses.

Quite frankly, I think that Rara.com is not going to be able to get those remaining 80% of the market, and I’m going to explain why.

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25
Jan 2012
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