In 2008 the idea of another subscription-only music service was enough to get your knickers in a torrent. Sure Rhapsody was doing well, but they’d been around for forever and in 2008, freemium was the music model du jour. With a year to reflect, co-founder of the Future of Music Coalition and longtime San Fran Music Tech Summit organizer Brian Zisk tells us what it takes to survive in today’s music environment.
In August 2008 ReadWriteWeb asked What Would the Perfect Streaming Music Service Look Like? While Pandora, Imeem and Muxtape were mentioned, services like MOG’s All Access, Spotify and Rdio hadn’t even been hatched. Given what appears to be a major shift in the industry, we asked Zisk to weigh in on some of these upcoming features:
RWW: A number of companies are offering cheap all-you-can-eat music services where users pay a set price for unlimited playback and streams. How important is price in this instance?
While price and large catalogues are important, having full songs goes without saying as the most important feature. People will pay for convenience and I personally am not interested in a service that only lets me play the entirety of a few songs and then forces me to listen to 30 second clips.
RWW:The killer mobile music application appears to offer offline caching of streams. Is this a make or break feature for streaming music services?
It’s important to have a killer mobile app or device integration, but as connectivity improves, I’m not sure just how important offline caching will be.
RWW: While some services offer a community curation feature, it’s a select few (Hype Machine being one of them) that manage to maintain a sense of cool. How important is curated discovery?
I don’t think this will be the most important feature of a service, but I could be wrong. I mean, how many folks would listen to the Village Voice Annual Picks or the Amoeba Records picks even if they were available online?
RWW: If not through editors, then how do you like to discover new music?
One of the features that I love is the ability to drill down into the music any way you want. For example, with Spotify you can search on a band and find their albums, and then start listening to their body of work chronologically. From there, you can choose whatever song you like, listen to it again and again, and then pivot on that song to hear versions from the other folks who have played that same song.
RWW:And what about social features?
Zisk:Lala’s feature where you see what your friends are listening to is cool, but I think the social aspect or the curated aspect is more important to others than it is to me. While I think it matters on a favorites level as in “You have to hear this band”, I don’t know how deep it actually reaches. I wonder if folks don’t already feel like they hear what they want from a radio station or recommendation-based radio like Pandora.
Photo Credit: Rossina Bossio Bossa