Why Playlists Are Growing in Importance

Music discovery used to be so easy. You just turned on your favourite radio station and the DJ told you what you needed to listen to if you wanted to be cool. It was that simple. Yes, there were all kinds of problems with this arrangement–so much great music never made it through all the necessary filters before it got to the radio–but it was a system that worked well for years.

When Napster came along, people began to feast on an all-you-can-eat buffet, allowing us to acquire more music than we could ever afford. We each became our own music director with the ability to tailor music to our individual tastes. It was awesome.

But we soon started to get overwhelmed. All our time was spent researching and searching for music and not enough time savouring it. We began to crave some kind of help and guidance when it came to music discovery and music recommendation. In many ways, we needed a modern equivalent of the trusted DJ.

This is the new battleground with streaming music services. Win the trust of the music consumer and you’ll win the streaming game.  Check out what the IBTimes has to say on the subject.

A music-recommendation arms race is raging. Now that music is available everywhere, all the time, the industry has been casting about for a new way to think about consuming it and monetizing it — and it’s increasingly zeroing in on your playlist.

“Playlists are the new battleground,” said Chris Price, managing director of New Slang Media, a music consultancy based in the UK that’s worked with clients including BT, MTV and the United Nations.

In playlists, record companies see a new way to break untested artists and invigorate interest in their older music; artists see a new way to contextualize their releases and connect with fans. And streaming services like Spotify, hungry for premium advertising rates and potential device and telecommunications partners, see a way to set themselves apart from one another. All of the services essentially have the same songs; it’s how you package them that matters.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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