In my previous post, I explained Why Spotify’s Social Strategy is Fundamentally Flawed. There’s an obvious distinction between Actively and Passively shared updates, and Spotify’s use of the latter has negatively affected both its growth and value.

Facebook made the same mistake when games such as Zynga’s ‘Farmville’ encouraged passively shared updates. Feeds were filled with spam, forcing Facebook to fix the issue by prioritising friends updates that we actively engaged with.

But how can Spotify change their approach?

 

Building In Active Sharing

A mechanism to encourage active sharing needs to be built into the core of Spotify, not bolted on top.

A Facebook/​Twitter style feed of friends and tastemaker recommendations is the obvious template to follow. It’ll allow us to tell anyone who wants to listen what our favourite song of the week is, AND WHY. Spotify have been toying with this idea for some time, but never implemented it properly. The below feed was replaced by the current feed that appears in the bottom right of the player.

We’ll explain our playlists, share our favourite lyrics, and recall musical memories with friends. We’ll explain the latest trends, rediscover old ones, and rationalise why ‘Tonight’ by New Kids On The Block wasn’t an embarrassing first single to have bought, and why it’s an overlooked piece of pop history (at least, I will).

Some may choose to fill niche interests - create feeds that solely analyse a song’s chords, or list the technical details of the instruments used. If you find something interesting, share it and you’ll probably find others who agree.

The possibilities are endless.

Identifying and Encouraging Curators

But not everyone will want to share content in this way. The 80-​​20 rule (aka Pareto’s principle) applied here implies that 20% of users will generate 80% of the content. These 20%, the curators, are hugely influential - they start trends, filter out the shit, and break artists. Identify who they are, and treat them well. Encourage them to contribute, and don’t force them to compete with passively shared updates for attention.

These curators aren’t just our (annoyingly vocal) friends. Artists are of course curators themselves, and will be keen to actively share the inspirations behind their music. Tastemakers are also key, and are already active online, from small-​​time bloggers to Pitchfork and NME. Rival service MOG - soon to be relaunched by Beats - syndicated this content (reviews, features) and imported it in to MOG, tagging it with the associated song/​album/​artist. It was clunky and poorly implemented, but a similar system is key if active sharing is to reach its potential.

The challenge will be paying websites for their content. A cut of the ad revenue they generate, or an expanded version of today’s affiliate links, may be ideas worth exploring. But one thing is clear, Spotify needs fans to spread the virtues of music if it is to increase the value of the url.

How This Affects Growth

Optimising growth is the central problem addressed by the ideas above. Returning to the growth framework from the previous essay - Acquisition, Activation, Engagement, Virality - it was the latter two that active sharing addresses.

A feed of recommendations from our friends, trusted tastemakers, and our favoured blogs & websites will guide us through our journey, and remove the choice paralysis that currently exists (engagement).

Shared music will be more valuable, special and will spread faster both within Spotify and beyond (virality). An ecosystem of content will be available with each song, to suit whatever we’re into.

And if all this works, we’ll laugh at the idea that mp3’s were all we ever wanted.


Part 1 : Why Spotify’s Social Strategy is Fundamentally Flawed

Facebook and Spotify have often said that sharing is an inherent human trait. I disagree. Active vs Passive Sharing ACTIVE sharing, when we deliberately take time and effort to share what we like, is a human trait. It demands attention on both sides, and increases the content’s value. PASSIVE sharing, an automated feed of things […]


How Google Play can forge a new Music Industry

Rumours are that Google Play will soon launch outside the US. The music industry will be overjoyed to see a player of Google’s size enter the market, hoping they’ll sell music to a whole new demographic just as iTunes did a decade ago. However, this will be a different beast entirely, with new lessons to […]


Gotye - Making Mirrors

We live in a time when all history and culture has been placed online at our fingertips. It takes no effort, time or cash for everyone to be inspired by everything everywhere past or present. We as a society now digest popular culture just as a newborn baby digests the world around it; we constantly […]


Why Streaming Can Make Music Special Again

I often hear thoughts like.… “Yes music being everywhere is convenient, but it makes it less special. I don’t savour the act of buying or listening anymore. That trip to my local indie shop and placing the record on the turntable for the first time was SPECIAL. Streaming music never will be.” I beg to differ. […]


Gotye - State Of The Art

State Of The Art deserves to be the signature tune from Gotye’s recent album ‘Making Mirrors’, but for many it won’t be. It’s the artist and his album left to boil at a low heat for years, leaving the rich essence of a body of work sunmarised in 5 wonderful minutes of music. We begin with a […]


2012 - The Year of Design.

A late start to 2012, but a start nonetheless. 2011, allegedly the Year of the Word, was a little light on activity on this here site. Words were sacrificed for an obsession for making the site EXACTLY as I wanted it. I learnt a lot and achieved very little, but that’s kinda the point.     […]