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The Music Connection

Music has become an essential part of a person’s life these days; it is not hard to go for a walk around campus and see several pairs of headphones in use as people jam to their tunes. The role of music in daily life has become so prominent that it is no wonder why social networks have either been built around or included features incorporating it. There have been differing degrees of success in the lifespan of such experiments, but the commonality has always been to bring people together, uniting us over our shared love of a good song.

With the very recent launch of “Twitter #Music,” it is a great time to examine where social networks have gone in hopes of getting users excited over sharing interest in new songs and artists and old favorites. Examples of networks using music as a noted feature include Last.fm, Apple’s Ping, MySpace, and Facebook after its acquisition of Spotify. While each of these incorporated music into its features to excite users, each went about a different way of doing so.

Last.fm is a website whose entire purpose is to recommend music to its users based on what they listen to. This is similar to the Internet radio service Pandora which allows one to enter a song or artist that he likes, and he will get a continuous playlist of songs that are similar in style; this will hopefully ensure that the songs played will also be enjoyed. Pandora itself utilizes very interesting aspects of networking in that songs are connected to each other more strongly if they share similar characteristics, such as genre, instruments used, tempo, and more. The more a song is connected to the song that was input, the more likely it will be recommended to the user and played. However, where Last.fm differs is that it includes a “scrobbler” which is software that updates your Last.fm profile with your current music library, such as in iTunes, and how often you play each song. More accurate recommendations can be made because there is more data to go on than a single song; your entire library and history of played songs builds these suggestions. A personal favorite feature on Last.fm is that users can check their “music compatibility” with others by simply going to their profiles; based on how similar someone’s library is to another, it can be said how likely they are to enjoy the same kinds of music. People can meet others who enjoy their interests and make new friends who like their music, broadening their networks.

Apple made Ping as its own social network built into iTunes. It was described by Steve Jobs as Facebook and Twitter on iTunes, but “something else… all about music.” Users could follow their friends as see what music they purchased and listen to snippets of these songs in a feed, similar to the news feed in Facebook. However, Ping quickly failed and was removed. One reason for this is that Apple focused a network entirely on music, and everyone is already on either Facebook or Twitter, where users can do a lot more. Why would anyone switch their focus to Ping if their friends are already on Facebook? This is an effect in networks where the benefits of being a user are on Facebook, where there are more friends to interact with.

MySpace really took off with their music features. Rising bands were able to share their music to a large audience back when MySpace was king and Facebook had not taken over yet.  MySpace’s ability to provide advertising was so successful that artists even gained recording contracts if their pages were popular enough, such as Colbie Caillat who has released several professional albums over the years. Building their networks was made easier with the Internet and MySpace; their listeners did most of the work for them by sharing songs with their own networks of friends. This trend helped many indie artists make it big.

Facebook’s purchase of the Spotify service has certainly proven to be successful. Users can listen to songs for free and share what they’re currently listening to with friends. This feature has probably had the biggest impact on the music industry due to Spotify; the best way for an artist to achieve prominence in the industry is to get their name out. With the large audience on Facebook and the ticker on the side of the site sharing live updates of what friends are listening to, it has never been easier to reach a big audience. This is an instance where a network and its connections have led to the perfect method of sharing music; get a place where everybody already spends their time and broadcast messages of what people are listening to! The users will take notice, get on Spotify, and begin advertising to their own friends.

Finally, Twitter #Music has been unveiled, and while it is late to joining the party, its features seem very well suited to a music-related network.  I believe that the service will take off for several reasons. The page has many options for viewing what is current. A user can check what is popular based on tweets, and this can be updated to be very current as more tweets continuously come in. Based on who a user follows, recommendations can also be made to them, similar to Last.fm. Also, users can see what their friends are listening to by only showing songs by people they follow, which is similar to seeing what friends are listening to on Facebook with Spotify. By incorporating features from other popular networks into a platform on an already popular network, Twitter has emerged as a great contender in the race to use a person’s love for music as a reason to stay involved in a site. It is clear how powerful music-related features can be to a social network, and this could be very significant for Twitter’s future. I am very excited to see where #Music goes from here!

– emn46

 

REFERENCES:

http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2013/04/18/twitter-musics-finally-here-and-its-not-bad-at-all

http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/cio-insights/a-rare-apple-failure-but-why-did-ping-go-pop/39749249

Comments

One Response to “ The Music Connection ”

  • heythere

    This was an interesting read! The poster explored the different characteristics of current day music networks and examined the ways they converge and differ. A few things that crossed my mind as I was reading this:

    Pandora’s song recommendation relies on the characteristic “tagging” of songs by professionals, and while this often results in great recommendations for users, the music library sometimes seems quite limited.

    Once in a while we see in Facebook’s notification section about so-and-so is listening to a certain cool song on Spotify/Rdio. The notification tip serves the purpose of sharing without being obnoxious and posting on anyone’s wall, and to me is a great example of how social networks help music networks gain users.

    I think it would be interesting to see more examples of music recommendation by other users of the network. Spotify already has something like this, where users can message song tracks to other users. There are many ways to go about it, but it would be interesting to see how effective it is compared to music recommendation by professionals or by algorithms.

    xz227

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