The prime concerns for digital music streaming companies right now are monetization and getting a foothold in the music industry. But at a more product and service level, companies like Pandora and Spotify are still having trouble figuring out what to do with their discovery tools. The companies’ radio features – where an algorithm chooses songs based on a user’s supposed musical tastes – are helpful, but the companies haven’t yet figured out how to leverage and expand their discovery services to put them in better business positions, while still organically serving listeners. Perhaps Starbucks can teach them something about how to get there.
I’ll preface my following argument by saying I’m not ashamed to say I enjoy the song “Last Christmas” by Wham!
This week, I’ve been working from a Starbucks next to my parents’ house while writing things for the coming holiday week. Sitting there with my laptop open, I heard the opening melody to “Last Christmas” being played on an accordion, followed by the lyrics sung in glossy three-part harmony. I looked up at the “now playing” monitor above my head to find out it was a cover sung by the Puppini Sisters, in a Django Reinhardt-esque, slow gypsy jazz saunter. It was the most serendipitous form of music discovery I’d experienced in awhile. At the bottom right corner of the screen, it displayed what artist was coming up next, but not what song.
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