Getting Past Just 'Putting Radio On The Internet' – Killer Apps Come Next
from the time-to-step-up dept
Musician (Gang of Four) and marketing guru, Dave Allen, recently put up one of his insightful blog posts, questioning where the real disruption in online music is these days, and complaining that all of the services we see out there today are basically just “creating radio on the internet.” And they’re all almost identical.
The modern version of that is the wholesale commoditizing of music catalogs by the labels who create licensing deals with the streaming music services. Those actions in turn further homogenize the streaming music service systems as the services only have access to the same catalogs ? there is no differentiation. Artists get pennies, or less than a penny, when someone streams their song, and the listener gets advertising in the stream unless they pay to escape the ads.
Music streaming on the web is not a Big Idea, it?s simply a lack of intellectual vision and thinking. Worse, it has advanced the ?passive listening? experience. It?s just terrestrial radio dumped on to the web in other words ? including advertising….
The bottom line is that there is no differentiation at the end of the day between Mog, Rdio, Spotify, Rhapsody, and all the others too numerous to mention, if they all have the same music catologs ? widgets and tactics don?t count.
I agree that we haven’t yet seen all that much that’s really innovative in music, but I’m not as worried about it as Dave. As I noted about the SF MusicTech conference (where Dave moderated a panel on exactly this subject), it really felt like we’d finally gotten past the doom and gloom and started looking at the real opportunities in the music business today. I think that much of the lack of innovation is because pretty much anyone who has really tried to innovate has been shot down by lawsuits. Seriously. The second you do something marginally innovative that starts getting attention, a major label comes up with an excuse to sue, mainly to regain some amount of control. So these clone music services are, in part, a reaction to all of that. The reason they all look the same is because they now know what it takes to fall into line and not get sued.
But I don’t think that’s a problem for the next wave of innovation in the space. Yes, many of these services effectively replicate radio on the internet today. But when you look through history, that often is the first wave of history when dealing with new media. You take the old media and move it to the new platform. It takes a generation or two before people start to recognize that the new media has special or different characteristics that really let you do something unique and new. Then it takes a little while before people start figuring out what that is. It’s why I’m excited about things like Turntable.fm. Whether or not it’s really the next generation offering that becomes a success story, it is a sign that people are finally starting to branch out and try things that are unique and different and really only possible on the medium of the internet.
In fact, while I’m a fan of Spotify and Pandora, since playing with Turntable.fm, I always feel sort of disappointed that I can’t merge the three. Spotify has a huge collection, and I’d love to be able to move my playlists directly into Turntable.fm, or use Pandora’s matching engine to find similar songs to what I’m playing or what others are playing within Turntable.
So I think we’re just entering the very beginning phase of real innovation in the music service market space. The companies here today may or may not survive. Or maybe they’ll drive the changes and come up with the next great innovations themselves. But it’s still early in the game.