Music Discovery: The Path to Digital Failure - hypebot

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Voyno

Preach on brother!

Mason

"They still discover new songs they enjoy on broadcast radio and look up music videos on YouTube."

that's exactly what's happening. music discovery is happening via radio while people are driving to work, or taking their kid to soccer. they hear something new that they like on the radio and do further listening on youtube, spotify, or pandora. but...there is very little music discovery happening at youtube, spotify, and pandora. people go there to listen to music that they first heard on the radio, not to find anything new. in fact, pandora and spotify are both terrible for music discovery. lots of bands want a pandora channel because they know there are listeners there. but the chances of someone finding you on pandora who doesn't already know about your band is about 0.

Chancius

Wow! I completely disagree! Every time I go to Pandora I wind up discovering acts I've never heard of before. YouTube is a wonderland for children and teens. My wife is an 8th grade teacher and she tells me that all her children do is go on youtube for music. Friends with young relatives say the same about them. Every time I turn on the radio I turn it back off. It's completely clogged with the same few pop songs and classic rock songs that are overly played out on repeat. The pop songs get airplay because the labels know kids will buy it and classic rock gets played because that's all the older generation wants to hear while most new rock and indie acts suffer because their audience doesn't pay for recorded music.

Free album download at www.facebook.com/chancius

Mason

maybe so, but most people still listen to the radio during drive time. all of the other ways of listening combined still don't add up to the numbers listening to radio during those hours. that's still where the mass audience is. the acts you discover on pandora, do you ever do anything about it? are any of them indie artists? do you go out of your way to engage with those artists via their facebook page or website? yep, lots of listening on youtube.

Yannick, the GeneralEclectic

Yup, there are many many more people who have a radio listening habit than those who have a music discovery habit. I admit I have the latter and agree it takes quite some time. It's kind of like going fishing when considering the amount of time it takes, it's just that the scenery is not as nice as a lakeside and the air is not as fresh. Also, I don't use automatted services that do it for me because these are only as good as their database is, and the new releases I'm interested in, usually are not entered in databases just yet. Doing this online with the help of search engines and surfing the blogosphere (or what's left of it) requires some background knowledge on what search terms are more likely to lead to satisfying results. The use of Boolean Operators is important, too, and that's when it can feel like work sometimes.
Back in the days before the internet, I used to read the music press but today, the music press does not stand a chance in covering the wide range of music that gets released all the time. It's sad that they don't even try but that's probably a cost-saving measure for them. Yet, there is still no proper replacement for the music press of old and that's why I usually rely on my own searches for new music discovery.

But I also give away mixes as presents to friends and that's one part of where the music discovery happens for them.

Kyle, I know well there is yet no proper algorithm for enabling divergent online searches which despite being divergent, still produces search results which are close enough to what the searcher is interested in. But that does not mean people should be discouraged from trying to find and program one. Yet, this may well be more the stuff for a scientific research project, maybe in a cooperation of computer scientists and cognitive scientists, because before emulating how it works when people broaden their minds, that must be found out.

And no, that was never the aim of those "failed" music discovery startups. They are just kind of placebos for the real task, and thinly disguised ones at that. Yet, so is the radio, but as people already have a habit of switching it on, it does work to some extent.

Paul Resnikoff

Very boldly written Kyle, and certainly thought-provoking and provocative. I think this is one of your best pieces. I'm not quite sure if I agree with all of it, but I will say that I've never met a non-industry music fan that is complaining about 'discovery'. Ever. I go to shows with these people, talk about music with these people... they might complain about the quality of existing music or debate this or that (as people always do), but never has the conversation turned to... 'where can I find more music that I love?'

In my own experience, I am actually searching for new stuff, I'm on the hunt and really thrilled when I find something. The scary part is that even I can't be relied upon to contribute healthily to that discovered artist once I fall in love. I realized that after discovering araabMUZIK at Pitchfork Music Festival, I've probably streamed his albums maybe one or two hundred times total, playing the songs thousands of times in aggregate. I've even researched and played the songs that are sampled in his music, and deepened my appreciation for his influences. This was mostly on Rdio, Spotify, and YouTube, I did the math, it's depressing.

I'm yet to see him live. I've seen deadmau5 live several times, I'm not sure why I haven't seen araab, but... you see where I'm heading here. Even super fans, once they discover, cannot be relied upon to contribute to their favorite artists -- and it's not their fault.

Paul

GEPES

Great article. I agree, I personally discover less music that I like through music discovery apps rather than a general online radio station like Sirius. It's not that people don't like discovering new music, but I think that people are just so busy and picky with the amount of content that's out there that it's not worth the time curating the perfect selection by pressing a "like" or "dislike" button. I am a huge proponent of the power of singles too, and online radio takes that more into account. From casual but not diehard music fan, that's just a personal opinion.....

Amit Nagpal

Enact is a web design and development agancy, fully equipped to offer a full host of research, design, development and testing services to companies and organisations big and small. Our focus is building custom software applications that work for our customers, no matter what business industry they are located in. With combined experience of over 10 years in the marketplace, we have had experience in almost all industries. Our clients range from new businesses trying to get a foot hold in their industry to large established corporations looking to improve their technical roadmap. We take problems and develop custom solutions for companies across all types of Industries.

Enact

Enact is a web design and development agancy, fully equipped to offer a full host of research, design, development and testing services to companies and organisations big and small. Our focus is building custom software applications that work for our customers, no matter what business industry they are located in. With combined experience of over 10 years in the marketplace, we have had experience in almost all industries. Our clients range from new businesses trying to get a foot hold in their industry to large established corporations looking to improve their technical roadmap. We take problems and develop custom solutions for companies across all types of Industries.

Erich

Provocative, but not quite factual. And when facts get ignored, it's hard to take the opinions laid on top of those facts as seriously.

Let's start here:
"Music discovery is a dead pool of music startups, where zero successes exist."

I was part of MediaUnbound, a successful start-up focused on music discovery (we were acquired by Rovi - aka SUCCESS!). This is but one example of many examples of successful start-ups (not to mention established companies working in the space).

So, let's back up, get some facts straight, and then dig in - this could be an interesting discussion.

Erich

Furthermore - when you link to Pakman's testimony and then claim lower down that Pandora's "days are numbered", you appear to not have read Pakman's statements - in which he is arguing before Congress to reduce the licensing rates that Pandora (amongst others) has to pay - precisely because this rate reduction will, in his opinion, lead to greater success in the music start-up space...

Ah well - you've got me to comment twice. :) So I'm sure hypebot is happy with the ad views. Rock on.

Brucewarila

Kyle, another good observation. You probably read Paul Lamere's rebuttal? Like a lot of casual music consumers, I have six analog buttons on my car radio. Depending on the interface, I would happily accept 100 more.

In the context of driving (most of us drive 13,000+miles a year), the (discovery) buttons solve the problem of preventing boredom. In this context, discovery is a great solution.

I think you have to individually examine the predominant situations where we consume music (in the car, at work, at the gym, etc.) and determine 1) what's the problem, and 2) if discovery is a total or partial solution to the problem.

I also think there's a consumption to a-need-to-discover graph that is in play here. The more you consume, the more you need to discover. If you listen to music a lot, you need to discover new music; if you listen minimally, you are not compelled to discover (you want familiar).

If you plot each context against this graph, you can quickly determine where music discovery is a killer solution.

~Bruce

Tone Bloke

Might have to agree with PR on this Kyle - one of your finest..

Just to be clear:
Presently there is no such thing as music discovery.

Whatever you people think might be music discovery -- well, it's horrendous.

There is a quality, complete music discovery platform in development, and it will offer users more than a flat bio and a tiny rendition of album art -- so stay tuned.

Jim Knodle

Remember when everyone was rejoicing about "no more filters!"? Turns out that "Filters' (i.e., A&R people) saved the rest of us from wading through a sea of dreck. Save copyright! Bring back music labels!

Julian Weisser

A&R people must be the least efficient form of filtering. They aren't actually filters, they are gatekeepers.

What makes your comment even more perplexing is that you cannot, "Save copyright!" or "Bring back music labels!" and somehow stop people from uploading terrible videos to YouTube.

Terrence Yang

Great and congrats! Any other exits you can think of, off the top of your head? What was the annualized return to seed stage investors (if any)? Thanks!

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