We like to talk about “social music” as it pertains to music shared with our friends across social networks. Spotify and Rdio’s integration into Facebook being the obvious example of social music. But, that’s not social music. Nor is Facebook’s “Listen with” feature. Even Turntable.fm for all its interestingness is close, but not an actual social experience.
This is social music:
Imagine a venn diagram. In one circle is music I like. In the other circle is music a friend likes. The overlap is the sweet spot where music crosses over from being an individual experience, to music as a social one. In the vastness of the canon of recorded music, this is the spot at which the two of us intersect — this is where our musical compatibility and relationship begins. That’s powerful knowledge. Now take that concept further and extend it to music recommendations: music you like that your friend might also like.
Think about it for a second: we don’t actually know what our friends will like. Do you really have a good answer to “what should I listen to?” for every single one of your friends? I’m an outlier and spend an extraordinary amount of time listening to music, and as good as I am at recommending it, my success rate is pitifully low. A “normal” person would have an even lower success rate.
The ability to make recommendations “smart” and personalized on a person-to-person level is what I love about working at the intersection of music, media, and technology.
If we could take this concept of social music and apply it to entire friend circles, the results would be incredibly interesting since it would highlight the natural affinity groups centered around particular artists and genres. Further, it would reveal the sub-sub-groups we form when we listen to music communally. Which, in reality, is what being social is about.