Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Shuffle 2

In his Case Study: Soundflavor, Lane Becker of Adaptive Path writes:
'Have you ever been listening to your own music playing on shuffle and said, “Wow, I didn’t know I owned this song?” Or heard a song and said, “I wish I had more songs just like this one?” Or realized that your music ran out an hour ago and you’ve been listening to nothing but air, and yet you’re still wearing your headphones? These are the problems that Soundflavor set out to address with its new application and website.'

I have a lot of respect for the Adaptive Path guys, based on their previous writings, and I have no reason to doubt that they have done a good job in helping Soundflavor. And perhaps Soundflavor has identified a viable market opportunity.

But, I mean to say, problems? Is it a problem to be wowed by something you forgot you owned, and is it a problem to be so engrossed in what you are doing that you fail to notice that the background music has stopped? Is it a problem if you prefer to listen to music that is homogeneous (because you like all the songs to sound just like the first one) and bland (because you don't notice when it stops)? Am I bothered?

And whose problem is it? Perhaps the music industry wants to persuade you to buy new material, instead of listening to the old stuff over and over. Perhaps it makes things easier for them if they can predict what you will buy based on what you already like. So perhaps they like to encourage people to have predictable and conservative musical tastes, and they might like to encourage services and devices that reinforce this tendency.

In a service-oriented world, we always need to ask two things.
  • Whose problem is it - for whom could a new service create value?
  • And who is going to pay - what is the funding mechanism?
So who is going to pay for Soundflavor? Should the consumer pay, or should the music industry fund such ventures? There is of course a third option - the delivery of homogeneous music to listeners with conservative tastes could be funded by advertising. This is called a radio station.

Some earlier posts about services and devices for recorded music: Shuffle, Controlling Content, Intrusion and Immersion, and Lessons from Zune.

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