The Spotify iPhone app has been approved. With this app, I will now be able to carry 5 million songs in my pocket, and every week thousands more songs will be added to my collection automatically. This is the proverbial celestial jukebox – the great jukebox in the cloud that lets me listen to any song I want to hear. This is going to change how we listen to music. When we can listen to any song, anywhere, any time and on any device our current ways of interacting with music will be woefully inadequate. Shuffle play with 5 million songs just won’t work. Listener’s paralyzed by too much choice will just go back to the Eagles greatest hits album because its easier and safer than trying to find something new. People will start to wonder “What good are 5 million songs if I only listen to the 100 that I listened to in high school?” The new challenge that these next generation music services face is helping their listeners find new and interesting music. Tools for music discovery will be key to keeping listener’s coming back. Five years from now, the most successful music sites will be the ones that have figured out how to help people find new music.
What will music discovery look like in 5 years? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that it will go way beyond the ‘artist radio’ approach that we see now. I suspect that at the core of music discovery will be a smart, personalized, context-aware playlist engine that will give you a continuous stream of interesting music. The engine will know kind of music you like and don’t like, the kind of music you like to listen to when you are driving vs. working vs. relaxing, the music taste of the people you are with, your sense of musical adventure, what your friends are listening to, what songs were played on the TV shows you watched last night, what song fits well with the last song that was played, what artists are in the news, what artists are coming to town in the next few weeks, what artists have new albums coming out. The list goes on and on. It is hard to predict what will happen in 5 years, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if we see something that looks like this:
(Image courtesy of David Jennings)