A week is a long time in audioPosted: May 11, 2010
Its definitely time for a mammoth blog post after at least a week of inactivity! And its audio themed, debating the following points, think of it as three for the price of one:
1) What we should make of Spotify’s new features
2) Is the podcast dead?
3) Is a fusion between Spotify and podcasting the best way round the music rights issues that have crippled podcasts.
Spotify is often criticized for being too niche, an exclusive club if you like, one in which hardcore ‘muso’ members make up a majority of the traffic. This is a criticism I heard from two execs at we7.com, who describe the service’s audience as solely early adopters (as a negative thing!), versus their broader more mass market platform they espoused. And I think the we7 execs were right to a certain degree. Anyone who has hankered after an invite will tell you that it can be surprisingly difficult to get one, especially in the early days (although this is to manage growth), and the more in depth features like label search, that really bring it to life, are always more likely to appeal with ‘serious’ music fans. Add to this the fact thats its an app rather than a website (and the implications foe those who work in a firewalled ofice) and I guess you could say that it is indeed for the more ‘serious’ of music fans.
The new social features on Spotify, seem to appeal to those who have the impetus to trawl through friend’s playlists, compiling the perfect mix-tape or subscribing to others. Again though I am not sure that these updates make it truly ‘social’. I mean that its still all about the music, there’s little chat or opportunity for interaction, ecept through Facebook accounts linked in. I guess that makes sense as that’s the forum for these sort of interactions but would it have been too much to ask to allow us to attach a message to tracks we send to fellow Spotify socialites. I’m also struck by how few of my friends have actually updated their Spotify and at the latest count only 20 of 350 or so of my FB friends are getting on board.
As for the second point, I have read a lot of posts recently about the death of the podcast. Certainly, podcasting as a term has lost some of the buzz it has enjoyed over the last 5 years, especially in advertising, but this isn’t to say the form is dead. The Sony Radio awards last night gave one of their their top awards (gold no less) to the Hackney podcast and its definitely worth a listen it is truly fantastic. And that goes for the rest of the nominees and the other great pieces of audio out there, bringing laughs, taking you to places in your mind you haven’t been before. Maybe its just the term podcast that is dead, in fact even the Sony’s aren’t using it referring to them as internet programmes. What we are witnessing is a broadening of the term, and we are eventually witnessing a dissolution of platform terminology, what we are essentially talking about in all these instances is audio. If we think in these terms we can include the raft of servces that have ‘stolen’ the buzz from podcasting, AudioBoo (which you can vote for in the Smarta100 list), or services like Mixcloud or SoundCloud.
Moving seamlessly on to the third point, there are also new possibilities for the traditional authored radio show to superceed the podcast through services harnessing online juke-boxes such as the aforeentioned Spotify and we7. The digital distribtor Kudos Records has come up with Playdio which will get around the current restrictions on the use of music in podcasts (limited to 30″ at present). They will essentially be playlists with spoken tracks acting as DJ voice-overs either side. The really clever thing is how they pay for production, which is ‘per stream’ of the voiced link. Services like these add value to these new audio services and although its in its infancy, they already have Phil Jupitus (recent 6music DJ) signed up.