Social networking through music streaming services

While CD sales have been declining for a number of years now, digital sales are jumping up. iTunes and Amazon are by far the most important actors in this market, but music streaming services grow significantly every day. Let’s have a quick overview of a couple of streaming platforms and their intertwining with social medias.

Written by Arnaud Mittempergher

A survey reported in August in the Wall Street Journal has shown that nowadays most american teenagers use Youtube and the radio to listen to music legally. While this raises an important question about the future of the music industry (read more here and also here), this also says something interesting about the way many young people consume music.

First of all, many of them don’t want to pay for their music anymore (besides online streaming, illegal downloading is still widely used). Then, surfing on Youtube might also underline the fact that it’s important for them to be able to discuss and share tracks with their friends (something iTunes doesn’t provide at all). Considering the latter, it is interesting to note that Myspace was first a social networking service, and it then turned out to be the biggest platform for music artists between 2005 and 2009. However, now that its popularity is slowly sinking, Youtube and other music streaming services are gaining greater popularity.

A big part of Youtube is dedicated to expressing ideas and opinions in the comments and sharing music on other social medias (on Facebook for example)

I’ve decided to focus this article on one of them, possibly the most popular at this time: Spotify. Other successful music streaming services rely on the same concept as Spotify does, but they are either less socially integrated (Rhapsody), or don’t have as many tracks available (Soundcloud or Reverbnation).

Spotify is basically a music application that gives you an instant access to any song you want to hear. It’s a completely legal freemium software. Indeed, users can either use the software for free, with limited hours of usage per week, or pay a monthly fee to have unlimited access. This fast-growing music streaming player revolves deeply around music sharing, as Myspace and now Youtube do. As its CEO Daniel Ek said, “we think music is the most social thing there is, and we think people want to interact with music.”

That’s why Spotify has a really deep social media integration, especially with Facebook. Both actors work hand-in-hand, each sharing benefits in this relationship. Facebook always wanted a music service: it can now keep its users on the network whilst they listen to music. As for Spotify, it can now reach the millions of Facebook users.

Spotify got “engaged” to Facebook last year

For Spotify, the act of sharing music is “really, really important for our business”, said Daniel Ek. “We’ve found that the more social our users are — i.e., they’re sharing music — the faster they grow their own music library. [And] the faster they grow their music library, the faster they become paying customers.” The video below gives you a clear understanding of how Spotify is socially integrated within Facebook.

Using Spotify with Facebook is really simple and intuitive

On the next screenshot you can see how my Facebook page looks like after I used Spotify. The music I shared appears on the left-hand side with my personal comment, the music I just listened to appears on the right-hand side.

An example of Spotify on Facebook

Besides Facebook, Spotify is also well integrated within Twitter and Tumblr. However, these social medias are not the only ones. Which is why Spotify also provides http links to any song, so that you can post it on your website or your blog. The song is then directly played on Spotify.

EXAMPLE : Saez – Pilule

Another interesting website I came across is thisismyjam.com. The idea is very simple : every user has its own page, on which he can publish the songs that he likes. His friends can then comment and share his songs. Like Spotify, this service revolves a lot around social interactions (learn more about it here).

Each song is commented by friends and “followers”

It’s also interesting to note that thisismyjam.com has its own Spotify app, meaning that you can follow your friends’ jams within the Spotify software. You can also click on the artists’ names to see all their tracks on Spotify.

One can easily access all the songs that friends have posted on their thisismyjam accounts

Long story short, the streaming industry is an exciting one where you can find you favorite tracks and listen to them for free until you get fed up. Could you dream of better?

For starters, it is a reliable and interesting alternative to CDs and digital sales. Since its launch in 2008, Spotify has paid over 250 million dollars of royalties to the music industry and Youtube pays “millions of dollars” every month to the largest music labels. Who would do that if music streaming wasn’t a profitable business, satisfying tons of users?

Furthermore, I realized that the concept of music and sharing go hand-in-hand, which is something those streaming services have well grasped. As Chris Gayomali wisely wrote, “the exchange itself is the part about “social” that people genuinely enjoy…Whenever you play a new song for a friend in your car, you can’t help but feel great when they like it too”.

It’s the same social drive that explains the success of streaming services such as Spotify : its popularity also relies on the exchange. Not only is it a way to gain new users through the word-of-mouth, sharing is simply a big piece of fun in music!

What about you, do you also use Spotify? If not, what’s your favorite way of listening to music online? Or do you prefer to own the albums of your favorite artists?

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