Apple Will Enter the Sharing Business

From Harvard Business Review:

Music publishers have long realized that consumers need help with finding new music. Radio played this role, and it was a source of revenue too. The placement of songs in movies and other media also fueled demand. The music video evolved from television shows to become a dedicated set of channels. The video migrated in its modern versions to YouTube and various artist sites. At the heart of all of these ways of sharing music was the social aspect of music discovery: referrals from friends.

Music publishers have never really tapped into friend referral as an active way of promoting discovery. Their various legal pushes, in fact, suggest just the opposite. From proclaiming that recording mix tapes violated the law to suing consumers directly when they started making digital copies, the music industry has sought to isolate rather than socialize the music experience. They even go to great lengths to extract payments from the playing of music in public without ever acknowledging that playing a song at a gym or night club might boost sales.

The advent of file sharing has only fortified music publishers’ resolve toward individual control. They want to be the only ones able to say whether we can listen to music or not.

But to get to the step of initiating a potential music purchase, music discovery has to be efficient. Beyond the music industry, this fact has been seen as self-evident. Facebook, alongside its recent collaboration with Spotify, has realized that music referrals can come from friends. Even Skype allows you to let others know what music you are listening to. And two years ago Apple launched its version of a ‘social network’ with Ping, which broadcast to the world the music you had purchased and might be listening to.

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