We7 Users Love Radio, Not On-Demand Streams

image from We7, an on-demand music service, is repositioning itself as a web radio service. In January, We7 introduced a radio feature. By October, chief executive Steve Purdham reports that it accounted for "well over half" of the songs listened to on the site. In an interview with paidContent, Purdham candidly states that he thought users wanted unlimited options and the ability to stream songs. Yet, once users tried the radio feature, they asserted in droves that they can't be bothered by all that choice and just want to be "entertained." This is quite interesting.

Users desire less choice. Purdham contends that this is a "massive hint" into how fans want to consume music. On one hand, they need to feel like they're in control and have freedom. On the other, they call for personalized curation.

This is good news for We7; it's cheaper to make radio the entry point into their service. Royalty rates are less. This move pits We7 more strongly against and Pandora, while easing up some of their competitiveness with Spotify. Due to the sheer complexity of licensing and the costs associated with it, Pandora isn't available in that market, leaving an opportunity for We7 to grow.

The biggest question of all through remains: Do we really want users to take the stance of "entertain me" towards their music listening experiences?

The result could be a much more passive involvement in their decision-making process and that passivity could carry onto the artists that like. At a time when many artists are banking on the most active and involved fans possible, many are taking a submissive stance towards the music they consume. Is this good?

via paidContent

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  1. Interesting. I’ve always thought that 90% of the population are passive listeners. In other words, they don’t have the energy (or interest) in finding new music. So this makes sense in that regard. If this is true, then the importance of the curator is what the artist should be focusing on. For example, who at Pandora is responsible for picking new artists to add to a Coldplay station or a U2 station? That’s the person that has the power to influence fans. Just like the old radio djs had the power to introduce new music to the millions of passive listeners driving to and from work every day.

  2. I have never used We7 before, but maybe the reason people prefer radio to on-demand streams is that the user experience for on-demand streams isn’t very good.
    In my experience, on-demand models work much better when they are accompanied by recommendations rather than just “download anything you want.”
    New releases, curated playlists, related artists, recommendations based on other music you already listen to, etc are all great sources of recommended music.
    It also seems that many music services make it much harder to browse than to search. If you want to search for a specific artist, no problem. But what if you don’t know which artist you want to listen to? You only know that you want to hear post-punk from the UK released between 1982 and 1985. eMusic has great ways to browse. Most other services are really bad at this.

  3. I agree with both comments above–particularly the first. Most listeners are passive and most “music fans” are casual. The best example of this is from the old major label model for success: When an artist had a massive radio hit they sold tonnage. When the next album came out and there was no hit, the numbers of “fans” fell off dramatically. Any album that was multi-platinum in the 80s-early 2000s was driven by radio listeners who heard a song they liked and were forced to by the album because there were no singles available. The vast majority of those buyers had no emotional attachment to the artist and abandoned the act when the next record failed to produce the hit.

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