In this blog post, I am going to discuss the music industry and the platforms that are currently available to stream music (some of which I’m sure you are already familiar with) and how they encourage online social interaction amongst users. In this post, I will be discussing Spotify, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp and their features, commonalities, differences, and social aspects.
First and foremost is Spotify, which I’m sure almost all of you either use on a regular basis or have used previously. I myself am not a huge user of the platform, but I certainly have my Spotify moments. Spotify offers an incredible user experience for a variety of reasons, the primary one being its massive catalog of music. Almost any album (sorry Taylor Swift fans) can be found on Spotify with a few clicks and can be listened to on the spot. Spotify accounts are frequently linked to a user’s Facebook account and this is where the socialness of the platform really comes light. While listening to music on Spotify, a quick glance to the right sidebar on the platform displays the music that a user’s social network, whether it be Facebook friends or connected Spotify users, are listening to. This is a great way to either keep up with the albums that your friends have been listening to (talk about a great conversation point) or discover a great album that might have snuck past you, but that your friend was able to uncover. Spotify also allows you to directly message an album to a connected user, which means that at any time you can share a recommendation over Spotify. This is all done through the platform, which saves the extra step of logging onto Facebook and messaging them the link to the album.
Next up is Soundcloud, which is different from Spotify primarily (in my opinion) in that it traditionally has shied away from the hosting of entire album streams. This platform has seen considerable usage from smaller, up-and-coming musicians who aim to host their art online and receive feedback and critiques from interested users. One really unique feature of Soundcloud is that users can comment on specific portions of a song that they are listening to. For instance, if someone is listening to a track on Soundcloud and noticed that a snare hit is missed, they can comment on the specific moment of the track that the mistake is. This is a much better feedback method than a general comment on the track as a whole along the lines of, “Well the drumming was a bit off”. Because of features like this, Soundcloud is inherently more collaborative than a platform like Spotify. I have one specific friend, Toby, who has met and collaborated with numerous producers through Soundcloud, where one person would create a beat and then send it to another individual to add more instrumentation or vocal elements or whatever else required.
The last platform that I want to discuss in this blog post is Bandcamp, which some of you might not be as familiar with as Spotify and Soundcloud. Bandcamp can be thought of as iTunes for (predominantly) smaller, independent artists and offers users the ability to host and sell their musical creations to anyone online. One feature that I think is uniquely beneficial to Spotify is their tagging system which allows uploaders to tag their albums with anything relevant to the album. Oftentimes this has genre and geographical connotations with users tagging their album as “Boston” if they are local to the Boston area or “ska” if their band falls under the genre spectrum of ska. This is a social feature because users are able to search Bandcamp by specific tags, therefore someone who is looking specifically for Boston Ska can easily search for those tags on Bandcamp and find my friend Dan’s band Poor Jeremy. Additionally, Bandcamp allows you to create a profile, “collect” albums that you have purchased on the platform, and see what other users have collected the same album. I have a friend who was looking to start a band in the local Boston area and simply browsed the Boston tag on Bandcamp in hopes of finding some similar-minded musicians in the area and soon enough he was in a band with some local folks. This is the power of Bandcamp and it is super cool to me to see people collaborating through it.
What are your thoughts about all of this? Are you a musician and do you use any of these platforms? Even for those of us who are non-musical, what are your experiences with these sites?