Spotify Wants You
Spotify’s US launch may be delayed, date unknown – but it won’t be long, they say. Delays certainly aren’t stopping the versatile cloud music service from seeking out licenses from independent labels and artists.

New York City based Toolshed announced this morning that they are assisting in licensing independent labels and artist catalogs for their US launch.  In the past, Toolshed has handled online audio and video marketing campaigns for The Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, Ani DiFranco, Spoon, Aimee Mann, Jeff Buckley, XTC, and hundreds of others. Toolshed also provides digital strategy for the Beggars Group (XL Recordings, Matador Records, Rough Trade, 4AD), Merge Records, Astralwerks, Saddle Creek, Touch and Go, Righteous Babe, and Kill Rock Stars. Get in touch with Toolshed if you’re an independent label or artist who would like your music and video available on the Spotify platform before what appears to be an imminent US launch sometime in 2011. SXSW?

Billboard’s Social Fifty
Billboard recently announced the new addition of the Social 50 to their regular charts. Powered by Next Big Sound and sponsored by American Express, Billboard’s Social Top 50 calculates artists’ “popularity” based on Facebook and Twitter friends/fans/followers and, says Billboard,  “weekly song plays on MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and iLike.”

Even though songs are streamed, purchased and shared daily from a multitude of other sources, the new chart does not reflect those services, or any p2p sharing data.  A bigger question for social activity trackers like Next Big Sound is not simply origin of data issues, or including services differentiating between on demand (Rdio, Mog) and non interactive (Pandora, iheartradio, Aol, Spotify), but how much they can charge industries for these new charts that appear to be missing crucial data.

In their current form, the charts themselves are valuable for small measurements. And with any data set, a good analytical mind in music can figure out creative ways to capitalize on trends within certain social platforms, even with big giant plus or minus numbers around the data.

Perhaps questions of plus or minus are the reasons why Billboard found a sponsor for the program. A sponsored, or “presented” chart insures payment for data without any true responsibility for accuracy. Without stream counts or sharing information from Pandora’s 65 million listeners, and many other platforms, social music charts carry the danger of grossly misleading bands, fans, labels and managers.

On top of missing data, social charts must also track spelling errors, lyric mentions, allusions, direct-message based sharing and other data. On top of that, Twitter and other similar social platforms are often broken, creating more holes in data accuracy and larger margins of error.

Of course, qualitative data problems are the best kind. In an age where more and more people around the world are able to share music instantly with every move tracked in the background, arithmetic can only yield a deeper understanding of music consumption, success and behaviors in the digital era.

Currently, social music data companies like Next Big Sound and their many competitors are faced with business development, and figuring out the financial value of their fascinating, yet limited charts.

It’s Happened Before, and it wasn’t that long ago. In 1991 Nielsen won the game with SoundScan, creating sales charts and selling them back to a hungry industry. SoundScan became completely unaffordable to most artists and smaller independent labels, as well as the record stores themselves who were asked to report to SoundScan, for a fee.

Not surprisingly, Billboard’s Social 50 presented by AmEx shows that Eminem is popular, also reflected in recent SoundScan reports.

Defcon 4: Chrome App Wars
Google Chrome is Google’s browser which uses application framework. Chrome’s flexibility was made well known within the last 6 months when The Arcade Fire released The Wilderness Downtown, a groundbreaking Chrome-only interactive film by Chris Milk featuring Arcade Fire’s “We Used To Wait.”

Late last week on-demand streaming services Mog and Rdio tapped into Google’s new Chrome application store. With the versatility of an application in Google Chrome, both companies are flexing user experience muscles for a niche audience of internet users who demonstrate browser preferences.

Both applications are in their early stages and boast increased speed. Both services are also heavily mobile-based. So why the Chrome app war? Changes in user experience may indicate a drive to increase web usage in addition to smartphones. Mog’s web traffic peaked a year ago at 3 million and has declined ever since. Mog’s new Chrome application may be a response to a notable decline in web based usage.

What’s Different:
Notable changes on the Rdio app include the player, which floats over the window, regardless of browser size, making it extremely easy to use Rdio in a browser setting. Rdio’s Chrome app is clearly an enhancement of their product maintaining the same playlist features, collaborations, sharing and search functions in place.

Mog‘s application includes some major changes to the overall product, in a sense creating a new Mog experience online. To someone like me, who has seen Mog through its numerous iterations, it appears that Mog has once again reinvented itself, starting with Chrome.

Access Mog through a Firefox browser and you will see a lot of content; blog posts, reviews, pictures, and user generated content. Use Mog via Chrome, and all of the user generated content is gone. It’s much cleaner, but notably missing is the playlist feature, which may be added in an update.

However, Mog’s Chrome app is focused on the music player, a change for the service that started as a blogging service for music fans. As the application economy opens up doors for music services, it will be interesting to watch how a music listening population chooses to segment their listening behavior, if at all.

None of this would be considered war, except a search in Google’s app store for “Rdio” renders a result for both the Rdio and Mog apps. A search for “Mog” leads only to the Mog application. What do you think? Check out the Mog Chrome App and the Rdio Chrome App and let me know.

Litigation Reaches Social Network Profiles
I know you’re a rockstar, believe me I really know. But be careful with your rockstar life online. I know you’ve been warned, but here’s another warning. Remember that show someone invited you to on Facebook and you totally said you were attending, but didn’t go? Or maybe you said maybe?

Remember that thing you did on Facebook that you didn’t really do in real life, or sort of did, or half-ass did, or actually did, but it just comes off a little different on Facebook?

You know that band you hate but for whom you feign love just to make your 2nd cousin happy?

Your Facebook and MySpace data – all of it, including your RSVPs – can be held against you in a court of law and deem you a non-credible witness in court. Litigators today are “more routinely making or receiving requests for information stored on social networking websites, courts are still grappling with issues such as the breadth of discoverable information and privacy concerns” according to Kristine Roberts, in the November 16 2010 edition of Litigation News.

While these cases are mostly related to various personal injury claims where claimants may be lying about their injury, precedent has been set. The delete button won’t save you; anything you delete is not truly deleted and equally as susceptible to subpoena. “But I have everything set to private.”

Heads up: your privacy button is just for show.

In Romano V. Steelcase, Inc  a Judge ruled “[W]hen Plaintiff created her Facebook and MySpace accounts, she consented to the fact that her personal information would be shared with others, notwithstanding her privacy settings.”

So the next time you play Catfish online, remember, you may have to explain why you weren’t really going to that event, you didn’t really mean that thing you said, that picture of you playing a saxophone was actually taken years ago, and somebody photoshopped that photo of you on stage with Bowie. Only time and more subpoenaed Facebook lives will tell how the law deals with new transitions and proof of online lives which may or may not mirror truth.

“Your Honor, it’s just Facebook. It’s not like real life” is not a reasonable answer within the polarizing standards of law.

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