“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” – Plato.
Throughout human history, music has been a common root engrained into our everyday lives, and in our digital world music can be delivered to us online in variety of ways. Today, an assortment of music streaming services are available to fans, and the competitive market pushes these sites to do more with original and exclusive content.
Launched in October 2008, industry headliner Spotify allows users to browse an extensive library of artists, albums, record labels or search by genre or playlists. Connecting through Facebook also allows users to share easily and follow current Facebook friends or find others with shared taste.
Last month Spotify launched Landmark, a quarterly release of exclusive music content. For its first feature, Spotify celebrated the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s final studio album, In Utero, by offering exclusive audio interviews with band member Krist Novoselic and producer Steve Albini to give fans a rare behind the scenes look.
Sandy Smallens, head of artist marketing and original content at Spotify, explained the inspiration behind Spotify Landmark. “We wanted to bring our listeners closer to some of the biggest and most culturally important musical moments, using the unique qualities of our platform to blend documentary and music,” he said.
“We’re proud that Krist Novoselic broke the news of his playing on an upcoming Modest Mouse album in his Landmark interview and we hope to provide many more newsworthy tidbits in these pieces,” Smallens added.
In addition to Landmark, Spotify launched Spotlight last week. “Here we show you what’s hot and who’s next, including the coolest exclusives, pre-releases, B-sides and remixes alongside new artist recommendations, playlists, live Spotify Sessions, track-by-track commentaries and video interviews.”
Also bringing an enhanced experience to music fans is DeliRadio which features hundreds of station playlists based on local concert venues. Searchable by zip code or city, users can preview bands that will be playing upcoming shows at specific venues.
“There’s a lot of talk these days about the importance of online music curation,” Wayne Skeen, CEO of DeliRadio said. “Well, part of the inspiration for DeliRadio was the notion that local concert booking agents everywhere could be de facto DJs. If their venue calendars and festival lineups were turned into streaming stations. That sounded cool, so we set out and did that.”
“Take this process one step further and let listeners distill these stations down to their own preferred music genres, and suddenly you’ve got truly enjoyable infotainment,” Skeen added.
“Venues and festivals love that we stream their gig calendar 24/7 to local concert-goers. It’s a no brainer, since it sells tickets. And it’s simply a nice thing to offer patrons,” Skeen said.
DeliRadio has simplified the experience for dedicated concert goers finding a show worth paying for. “Listeners dig having a hassle-free alternative to scanning concert listings on a venue’s website or in the local paper, and then scouring YouTube for decent sounding video clips. That tedious chore is not necessary anymore,” Skeen said.
Launched in September 2011, DeliRadio also gives the artists complete control on what’s available to listeners. “As for choosing the songs that are streamed by each artist, we leave that to the bands. Artists are in 100% control of their content on DeliRadio. They post the songs that play, as well as photos, and everything else users can read or watch,” Skeen explained.
Another distinctive music streaming service is Songza, which allows listeners to choose from playlists based on mood and context. Users choose music to compliment the listeners current disposition like “Unwinding,” “Studying,” “Love & Romance,” and so on. Or search by curated playlists created by Songza experts and users themselves like “Sleepytime Indie” and “Drop-a-Beat Workout.”
Eric Davich, co-founder and chief content officer at Songza, developed the site around emotional context.
“Two observations drove the development of Songza. The first was that the infinite shelf space of the Internet can create massive oppression of choice. With tens of millions of songs and artists one click away, which one do you pick for right now?” he said. “The second was that what matters more than what the content is, is how the content makes you feel. The biggest determinant of that is what you’re doing at that moment, your context. Context is king.”
Songza has thousands of playlists available for free, but additionally allows users to upgrade to Club Songza for $3.99 per month subscription to access special content including celebrity-created playlists and rare songs that are hard to find anywhere else.
Recommending playlists through Facebook, Twitter and Google+ is easy for users as a large “Share” option is available on each playlist. Davich recommends the playlist “Cool New Music: Fall 2013.”
While various business models for free, legal music streaming are now available, the digital music market is still experimenting with new ways to better serve industry and consumer interests alike. Undoubtedly, watching how content is delivered and enhanced in the music realm is something that any industry should take note of.
Sandy Smallens, Spotify
Head of artist marketing and original content
Wayne Skeen, DeliRadio
Chief executive officer
Eric Davich, Songza
Co-founder & chief content officer
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