Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Social Music

Music Note Bokeh

One of the greatest features of the Internet and its social media is the ability to connect with others, others who under normal circumstances we would have never been able to get in touch with. This post is here to suggest a possibly yet unconquered realm of this social connectivity is music.
One of the great things about listening to music via Spotify is that you think of something you want to listen to and you find yourself listening to it the next second. However, quickly enough you begin to exhaust the scope of music familiar to you, which then sets you about looking for more. There are some conventional mechanisms available to help you there: there are recommendations based on your previous listening, there are listings of new music, there are radio channels playing similar music to the one you like, and then there are the social elements. These last ones come in two shapes to allow you to listen to what others are listening to:
  1. Facebook connections: I guess this allows users to see what your Facebook friends are doing on Spotify; I don’t know because I am not a Facebook user and I hope to stay that way.
  2. Others’ playlists: This allows users to subscribe or just listen to playlists created by other users.
Let’s have a look at the second one. Playlists are retrievable using a normal search. That is, you can search for “Beatles”, and playlists bearing the name are returned together with artists and albums bearing the same name. It does not matter whether these playlists were created by others or by you. This is quite nice, if we are to ignore the lack of private playlisting: as a fan of the music used in the series Misfits, it’s great to see people out there created playlists featuring those tracks for me already. Spotify playlists can also be published outside of Spotify, as John Scalzi has done here.
It is that latter point I would like to focus on: being able to listen to what celebrities are listening to or recommending. Spotify can connect me with my Facebook friends, which is nice and all, but let’s be honest: the people I would have on Facebook are probably not there because of their musical taste or their ability to point me towards sources of inspiration; they’re just friends, and most of them are not into music in the first place. I can see the attraction there with kids striving to conform to peer groups (one of the main fallacies of Facebook in general), but I seek inspiration instead. I would like to know what Sting recommends, what Mark Knopfler listens to in his spare time, and where P. J. Harvey draws her inspiration from.
I want it to link me to the musical friends I would like to have, not to the friends I already have. In other words, I want Spotify to be more Twitter like in its social elements than Facebook like.
I think the idea has merit. Who’s joining me for a nice new startup?


Image by Daniel Paxton, Creative Commons license

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