Apps & Mobile

Playlists: Streaming Music Curation’s Duct Tape?

Playlist-browseLists are a big part of music from album tracklists to live show setlists. But web or app-based playlists of music, typically linked to streaming options from YouTube to Spotify, have become the leading lists of our time. In fact, the wide variety of uses music services are getting out of playlists makes me wonder if they're the duct tape of streaming music curation.

Playlists are a very practical solution for presenting the results of human curation and for engaging listeners who want to go beyond simply picking artists or genres.

Playlists are also valuable intellectual property as Ministry of Sound's current lawsuit against Spotify illustrates.

But music services need to "stop thinking about Playlists as their property and instead as the property of their users."

Playlists As a Branding Tool

Playlists can help define a music service or site's brand, for example, gearing it to the "average listener" or to drug users.

Playlists also help with brand definition by connecting with other metaphors such as a "SongCrate" or "Mixshape."

Speaking of branding: is planning to "turn 80 million user-created playlists into dynamic online streams."

Spotify: Awash In Playlists

Spotify powers a lot of interesting experiments in playlist creation including Tunaspot's location-based playlists and Pow Wow's playlist creation on the fly.

Spotify's own playlist efforts have underwhelmed but users and third parties have done a lot of nice work with playlists on the site. Spotify's new Browse feature is intended to provide better access to such playlists.

Spotify is continuing to experiment with the possibilities for playlists.

Playlists, Playlists Everywhere

It's hard to know what to think about 80 million playlists or about lawsuits over playlists as intellectual property. But in looking at different ways music services are using playlists, they really do seem to be an all-purpose way to bundle songs together whether by human or by machine, making them a form of duct tape for music curation.

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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