For those in and around the industry, new music discovery is akin to a holy grail: a near-religious experience that’s awfully hard to find.
As such, music marketers presume that everyone shares the obsessive desire for the bliss of discovery, and scramble to invent new services that promise to serve up the next new song that you’ll love.
However, nearly every music discovery service fails to find an audience beyond friends and family. For every Pandora, there are hundreds of services stuck in anonymity. Even I, someone who cares enough about music discovery to write a blog about it, has a gaggle of music discovery apps on my phone that haven’t seen the light of day since their initial download.
Why is that? Even the most casual music fondly tells stories of the moments that she discovered a soon-to-be favorite new bands. Surely no one wants to be forever locked into the same unchanging loop of songs. For our collective sanity, don’t we desire (deserve?) more than to wait around for the next “new” Coldplay album?
But is the fleeting delight of discovery enough to break the bonds of habit? Perhaps not.
Many are starting to argue “the biggest issue music discovery services have is the notion that people actually want this service.. music discovery… really only appeals to a very targeted niche of consumers.” (*)
The driving dynamics of this begin with some surprising facts about how we’re wired. “The psychology of repetition tells us that we remember and place value on things that we see/hear 7-10 times, almost regardless of the relative ‘quality’ of the content (though not entirely). This is why terrestrial radio has been such a critical channel, historically, for anyone looking to sell records or break out of obscurity — because repetition can literally train masses of people on what to like.” (*)
For those tempted to give an eight track scoff at the mere mention of terrestrial radio, think again. Despite our assumed obsession with all things digital, “80 percent of music fans still discover new songs through terrestrial radio, according to a study by Latitude Research and OpenMind Strategy, and some 94 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds say they tune in weekly.” (*)
Is new niche? Do we desire discovery or are we wired to like what becomes familiar?
I suppose you should listen to this next song 7-10 times and let me know what you think. It’s the first new material in two years from Francis and the Lights, and I find it refreshingly unfamiliar.