Data & Stuff // Neil Houston

Yeap, data and stuff
  • scissors
    April 27th, 2010Neil HUncategorized

    Back in April, at SXSW, Daniel Ek (Spotify CEO) talked about the future for the company, one key theme was the understanding that they need to make sharing music easier for their users. They also didn’t want to force users to create new social networks to do so, I blogged my thoughts on Music Discovery after the event.

    Just over a month later, it’s here the ‘Next Generation Spotify‘ which amongst other features allows you to share playlists amongst Spotify user and Facebook friends ‘with ease’.

    One thing you might want to consider, straight after authorising Spotify to connect with Facebook, is exactly what have you allowed it to do?

    As you can see, the standard set of interactions, that allow the App to post things to your profile. One new one for me is the ‘access data at any time’ option; let me know how Spotify might use that in the comments.

    Usage Auto-Post
    So when you’ve linked your account, it will automatically post to your wall and let people know you are on Spotify. OK So far, I’ll let the app do that.

    Playlist Privacy
    The app, will allow you to edit which of your playlists are publically shared (by default they ALL are), may be worth considering if you want certain playlists not to be shared. Also by default all future playlists you create will be automatically shared. Untick the box to sort that out, if you so wish.

    After all, do you really want to know the contents of ‘Music to put my makeup on to’; or the fact it’s in my collection!

    Facebook Interaction
    So now, as we have some friends, I can peruse what playlists they have let me see. Now what happens if I decide to add one of their playlists (or one they have added), to my Spotify account?

    Spotify will automatically post the fact you have added this playlist, to Facebook. There is no prompt notifying you are ‘do you want to share’ to Facebook. I was disappointed when I opened Facebook and had seen the Spotify app post a lot of messages on my behalf. Yes I had granted it permission to, but thought there may have been clearer notification within the App.

    Alter Wall Posting Behaviour
    If you don’t want this to happen, straight after you have Connected to Facebook with the App, hit the Cog, on the people bar and click ‘Disable Posting To Facebook’.

    You will still be able to manually have share links etc, as well as being able to access your friends list.

    Initial Thoughts
    Some of my tweets on the subject were rather strong, due to being shocked that even though I had granted access, I was not made aware of the implication. In another post, I’ll likely look at how mflow use Facebook and Twitter integration, and see if their method is more transparent to the user, as well as appearing ‘less spammy’ to the end user.

    There is some great optional implementation of sharing to social networks, just next time Spotify let me know OK? See this way looks fine to me:

    This also ties in the talk by danah boyd, at SXSW regarding approaches to Privacy & Publicity; sometimes companies will encroach on whats reasonable, and then potentially take a step back ‘a la’ Google Buzz.

    Some thoughts for you, please leave a comment…

    • Was it clear to you what access you granted it?
    • How did you react when you spotted it posting away to your wall?
    • Obvious it was going to do so?
    • Obvious how to stop it?
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  • scissors
    April 6th, 2010Neil HSXSWi

    This post has been inspired by the thoughts on Spotify, and them not being social, by Phillip John – Spotify Are Digging Their Own Grave By Not Going Social :

    The other week at SXSW I was listening to Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify, talk about the future of the service as well as some interesting facts and figures. One aspect that caught my attention was the mention of involving a ’social’ aspect regarding music sharing.

    Daniel Ek: Playlists are the mixtapes of 2010

    Now along comes mflow, a service I had heard of, but only recently received a beta code to join the service (want to join, use the code ZANE444). It’s a way to share music that you like, amongst a group of followers, consider it a recommendation engine powered by your friends.

    I believe that Spotify really needs to take a look at mflow, the social aspect of music is where it needs to, and apparently is, heading. For me, I’m not the biggest playlist creator, but I love finding new music, and listening to good playlists by my friends, and others.

    What people love about Spotify, is the ability to listen in full, and with no restriction on play count, any song of their choosing that is in the catalogue. They can then create playlists of full albums, or selected tracks.

    They can share these with a link, to their friends – but this is a manual distribution, via email, twitter, facebook or whatever media they utilise, (the only automatic sharing is to Last.FM). Daniel talked about how in the future the interaction would be occurring within the app, rather than outside it.

    Daniel Ek: Music discovery is the future

    On the other hand mflow, once you’ve added/found friends using it, allows you to recommend songs by ‘flowing’ them. The issue is, I can only listen to that track ONCE in full, thereafter I will get a 30 second preview. This is due to the licensing terms with the labels.

    So Spotify, has a way to be social, yet it’s outside of it’s environment.

    It’s been stated that Spotify don’t want for you to have to recreate a social network in their environment, they want to harness your existing social networks. To me, this is important, I don’t want to have to recreate existing social groups on every new platform I try.

    This is where mflow is lacking, if I was able to instantly see who of my friends were using mflow then I might use it more, it’s a service that works well when you are being given a constant stream of new/old music to discover. For me, I have to ‘hunt’ my friends out (I’m the user Neil on the service, find me, add me!)

    Spotify and mflow are not in direct competition, mflow is sitting in the music discovery space, and it works well (I consider it more usable than Last.FM). If it was able to link in with Spotify (to hear songs more than once), then it certainly could hit a critical mass more easily.

    mflow: Music’s better shared

    A differentiator between mflow, and Spotify (when it has a social aspect), is that you purchase music that someone has flowed, then that user gets 20% of the price as a credit. If there was integration with Spotify, that likely stop the incentive to buy music through mflow.

    Spotify, currently have a revenue stream based on user subscriptions (and selling of advertising, alongside subsidised bundles with mobile operators). You can purchase music through Spotify (but that would be targeted more at the non-subscribers), after all Spotify want ‘music to be like water’ if you are a subscriber, it’s always with you – on any device.

    Spotify is not dead, it’s still developing it’s feature set including addressing a social aspect. As well as ‘revision’ histories of playlists etc. mflow, well I’m not sure where they are heading yet, they seem like an open company and hopefully they will take on board some of the points myself, and others raise.

    In other news, check out the numbers:

    Spotify Numbers: (Source: SXSW Talk)
    7 Million Users, in six countries.
    320,000 Paid Subscribers
    Over 100 Million playlists, 30% are just full albums
    Around 10 Million tracks

    mflow Numbers:
    None known at this moment.
    Edit:
    Expected 2 Million tracks at launch (15/04/10): Source

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