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Some idea’s for Listening to music

Over the years I have used a whole bunch of Music Libraries, streaming programs, download tools, websites and formats for maintaining a way of listening to music I liked and as good as they have all been, not a single one has been perfect. I am currently with Spotify, which is the current best (or I wouldn’t be with it) that I have seen, which is good for its simplicity, range of available songs which are stream-able and ultimately is currently cleaning up because it was early to jump to a new model for music sales. Give it a few years and most of the media we used to pay for on disks, tapes, digital download will be streamed to us (or streamcached) – its a way the industries can move forward with technology instead of battling it and millions and millions of pirates. Games, tv, films, music will all become services fed to whatever technology we want them fed too, putting the control of the flow of data back in the hands of the owners, reaffirming ownership laws and creating a new dynamic between creative arts and media consumption.

Img courtesy of ~necrolz

This I think is a given at this point, but anyway. I wanted to write this post to put down some ideas I have had recently after I started using a few new music services. So this really is just an idea dump more than anything (if you haven’t a lot of time just JUMP TO THE IDEAS and perhaps you can tell me what you think in a comment!) If I had intentions to move into music software perhaps I would write something along these lines, but to be honest I would prefer if Spotify or similar invested some of their first few years profits and did it :p

So the best thing about switching the model up on music? Well it does make piracy less of an issue by charging a fairer rate (e.g. Spotify is £10 a month here) for a better service – it doesn’t eliminate it but it makes a step towards a feeder/reciever relationship which takes back control slightly. But really as long as the music is good the listeners don’t care about that money/buying/business part of the affair, all they (or rather we) want is to have access to listen to the music we want, when we want it, where we want it so we can enjoy it without concern of the business, this is why subscription is the right way if you ask me – although I wouldn’t be surprised if other dynamic/hybrid models pop up.

What else is good? Well it takes the files off of your computer, which on the front of it seems like an instant win because you save some space and don’t have to worry about hardware failure, but really its a lot better than that. It separates that management process from the whole business of collecting music, you can effectively manage and listen too a music collection from your home, phone, work, friends house, web cafe, wherever you can get access.

All this is great and currently available in Spotify, but ultimately the best thing about this new model we are adopting is the data, and that it is all in the cloud. It’s this data that could take the experience of music to a whole new level. CD’s, Tapes and other redundant media allowed for a start at this – Top of the Pops for example provided a weekly countdown of the most sold song’s – but with the music service coming direct from the cloud there is nothing stopping you moving this too a whole new level.

  • Top of the NOW
  • Top of the Minute, Hour, Day, Week
  • Top of the Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays
  • Top of the Month, Quarter, Year, Decade, Century

This allows people to listen to music in a whole new way. Spotify and some websites do process this data and this kind of breakdown is pretty much all available now.  Breaking down this data can also globally create billions of niche statistics. From Top Rock Track of 27th of February 2010 to Most overall listened too blue grass album this week. Now this is no small amount of data and visually defining a GUI or a system to easily transverse the breadth of options without drowning the user would be a challenge. One I think that can be pieced together using the combination of search technology, social media and a little bit of flair.

Why not have a “stream” automatically created based on something like this – simple selectors that will tailor to you
(background image courtesy of jelski)

My idea’s for a new way to listen to music? Granted a few of the below ideas are amalgamations of current systems but nethertheless they would still improve my experience as a music consumer. (Broken up in no particular order just to make them more readable!!!)

  • Simpler listening – playlists are good, as is the capacity to play a specific song, but 75% of the time you just want a mood of music (see below)
  • Switch playlists with streams – playlists serve a purpose but we are now superceding limits, jumping boundaries – we should be listening to streams of songs not finite lists
  • With all that data music providers should be doing more – Top of the NOW for example
  • A more linked architecture – Elements such as bands, band members, albums, tracks, tempos, instruments, dates, geo-location data could all be better linked and presented
  • With a better architecture you could have things such as “Awards” for “Best indy band of the week” etc. awarded to each band
  • Music will progress socially – and this should be addressed by the software we use to listen to it, not “facebook” for music fyi
  • Social listening – capacity for relational data, friendship links, follows/subscriptions, groups and fans
  • Friend stream following – listen in realtime to the same stream of music
  • Global digital DJ’ing – allow for digital concerts and DJ sets, democratisation of music selection presentation
  • Shared streams – communities could vote on songs to create streams of genre or other element specific music
  • Rivers via Stream merging – 10 friends could merge their party streams to create a river of music, perfect for a house party and not complicated or time consuming
  • Song UX – band, artist management – A better system to allow artists/bands/label’s to manage the user experience of a listener when they are listening to their track
  • WikiMusic – band/artist tributes, photo’s, fan art, tributes etc. could be cooperatively uploaded by the supporting community
  • VOIP karaoke – integration of audio back up the stream could produce some interesting options such as remote karaoke sessions
  • New and Hot – catch up service – see whats hot with your friends that you have never listened to before
  • MixTapes – A classic gift perhaps for the lazy or late thinker, either way the idea could be sound – create a time specific stream of music and save it forever/share/send it
  • Streamchat – while listening to certain artists, songs, streams, rivers a chat room could enhance the experience
  • Intermission management – I saw this as an idea for a software on dragons den years ago – I still cant believe no music player can mix between songs automatically and well
With the architecture of society built into the music system this would allow for some really fantastic developments – these are just a few of my idea’s on the subject and I am sure there’s a whole lot more that can be effectively mined from the music consumption data or added to the gui’s of the systems we use to feed our ears to enhance the overall experience.
I think as we move forward with the consumption of media a better intelligence will drive an ever evolving, improving experience which will allow humans to take hold of media in a more fluid, social way for their own enjoyment. I also think that the majority of the ideas here would work for video based media as well and I look forward to the day where we have an integrated social multimedia experience. Watching Dr. Who on iPlayer? why not watch it together with your friend who’s living across the world and have a chat about it? – no literally – why not?
This entry was posted in Ideas, Looking Forward, Music, Open Letters, Technology, Visualisation and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. LE
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 11:46 am

    That was a pretty interesting post on music listening ideas. Do you think there could be a market for a software allowing users to do all of this? I think there would be a large market for this.

  2. Posted March 5, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    I think there would be yes….

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