The Music Discovery Debate

Yesterday, barbs were traded on Hypebot about the value of music discovery.  My head goes directly to asking what's the problem?  What context?  Which user type?

I am memorializing my comments below:

I left this comment below on Kyle's post:

"Like a lot of casual music consumers, I have six analog buttons on my car radio. Depending on the interface, I would happily accept 100 more.  In the context of driving (most of us drive 13,000+miles a year), the (discovery) buttons solve the problem of preventing boredom. In this context, discovery is a great solution.

I think you have to individually examine the predominant situations where we consume music (in the car, at work, at the gym, etc.) and determine 1) what's the problem, and 2) if discovery is a total or partial solution to the problem.

I also think there's a consumption-to-a-need-to-discover graph that is in play here. The more you consume, the more you need to discover. If you listen to music a lot, you need to discover new music; if you listen minimally, you are not compelled to discover (you want familiar).

If you plot each context against this graph, you can quickly determine where music discovery is a killer solution, or not."

I left this comment below on Paul's post:

"If you are building a music service and your value proposition is to enable people to discover new music, then you are probably doomed to be a niche service provider.  Discovery is a low priority for most. 

If you are building a music service and your value proposition is to improve the listening experience via great programming, then you are probably on to something that's a high priority for music consumers. (Songza is on to something.) 

The capacity to OBTAIN great programming (it's subjective, I know) via numerous modes (machine, self, DJs,) has exploded.  You switch modes depending on context (self for the gym, machine at the desk, DJ in the car, etc).  

Other then purpose-driven discovery, discovery is an artifact of 'great programing'.   It's not dead, it's not a lie, it's just not the best problem to solve."

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As for my own discovery methods, I plow through the iTunes charts 2-3 times a year (purpose-driven), and I use Shazam everywhere (everywhere there's great programming).