Paraphrasing Arthur C. Clarke’s third law of prediction, technology streamlines habits so as to turn an otherwise time consuming process into a simplified moment of magic. While important laws protecting creators help dictate the parameters of music-tech products, so do people who listen to music.
Comments, blog posts, registrations, subscriber numbers, social syndication and listening hours contribute to the success of a music service. Most recently, with news about Bay Area based Pandora’s IPO filing, tech blogs are filled with entries and comments from music fans, product enthusiasts, band superfans, music-tech superfans, and casual listeners alike.
Amid the noise and constant grab for eyeballs and registrants by music services and the news orgs who cover them (including this one), distinctions between listening, discovery and purchase habits and how they are served by each product are often ignored. Recently returning from a music conference and frequently attending music technology conferences around the world, my eyes are continually opened to the disconnect between passion for a product and passion for the music within the product.
With so many music service startups serving so many different needs ranging from ticketing to listening, understanding habits of music fans (whether or not part of that habit involves the exchange of money) is integral to creating products that streamline habits rather than attempting to redefine them. In the union of music, technology and law three listener types have emerged, yielding and adopting distinct products which are often confused as competitors.
Which one(s) are you?
1. Me First And The Gimme Gimme (On Demand)
You are a Me First And The Gimme Gimme if:
After 10-45 minutes (or 3 or more songs, whichever comes first) of listening to algorithmic or internet radio (Pandora, Slacker, AOL Radio and other algorithm based or dj-curated stations) you are inspired to listen to the music of your choice.
For example, when a song from Phantogram suddenly starts playing on your Death Cab For Cutie Pandora station, you suddenly have a need to hear the same song again, the entire album, or any other music that you must hear right away for whatever reason.
You tend to actively listen; you turn off the station, and find the best method of listening to what you want to hear, when you want to hear it. Services that have functionality to enable you to switch from radio to a song or album of your choice without leaving their service include: Rdio, Mog, Rhapsody,
Spotify* and Grooveshark.
iTunes has radio options, but currently does not offer on-demand listening without purchase of an mp3 or content-related podcast. iTunes is where you, the gimme gimme, go to purchase music, and when you do, you know exactly what you are looking for.
2. Radio GaGa (Intentional Casual Listener)
You are a Radio Gaga if:
You prefer (or more frequently use) Pandora, Slacker, SiriusXM or a curated internet radio station like SomaFM. You may choose to go on demand later, but you purposely tune in to a station or curate your own and spend at least forty-five minutes (or 15 songs, whichever comes first) listening to the station.
You may do other things while it plays, or you may spend time curating the station to your liking with thumbs up and down integrations, or making dj requests. Services that cater to you include Soma FM, Pandora, BAGeL Radio, Live365, Slacker and AOL Radio.
Services that offer Radio Gaga functionality plus other functions (on demand and/ or social syndication) include Rdio, Mog,
Spotify* and Rhapsody. Dual functioning services cost money while radio focused services do not. Radio focused services have absolutely no on demand functionality whatsoever.
3. My Drug Buddy (E-commerce And Consumption Enablers)
You are a My Drug Buddy if:
You have a blog, share music, like to embed players, tweet links to music, and curate playlists for the purposes of sharing and/or promotion (on purpose or for passion). You are often a tastemaker to your friends (but you do not spam anyone, not even strangers, because you are not an asshole). You don’t use search systems to find people who want music suggestions, because you don’t need them to listen.
You truly like to review music, recommend music, and share music using sharing and embed or widget tools available in music platforms and in most cases you do this for pleasure. You are an active user of what is now tagged as the “social web.” You may also like to advocate for one music service or another.
Music services that cater to you include SoundCloud, RootMusic and blip.fm. When you tune into Pandora it is an exciting discovery tool for you. You may even actively, immediately purchase music that you hear on the station to which you are listening. You want to own it right that minute, but you do not need to hear it right then. Services that do not cater exactly to you but contain and encourage simple to use elements for sharing include Rdio, Grooveshark, MySpace,
Spotify* and Mog.
*Note: Territory restrictions apply to most services, so I’ve named only services that work where I am located: San Francisco, California, USA.