Digital communication and social media platforms have transformed the way that individuals around the globe converse, share information, and learn more about themselves and one another. Whether it be through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Periscope, Tumblr, or Snapchat, communication mediums such as these have allowed for people of all ages, shapes and sizes to express themselves while engaging and sharing with others. Unlike these forums, which allow for a plethora of diverse opinions, expressions, dialogues, and interests to float freely, music platforms, such as Pandora Internet Radio and Spotify, focus solely on one passion that unites millions – music.
As unique as it is for the social media platforms mentioned above to act as unrestricted forums for really anything to be displayed, discussed, or analyzed, music programs such as Pandora bring people together over one common platform that spawns a plethora of variety. It brings people together over a shared passion for music, specifically personal musical taste, while also allowing for that passion to be shared with other like-minded users, both known and unknown. This social media and sharing component of music programs, particularly featured with Spotify and Pandora, is what has given them the competitive advantage needed in order to collaborate with rather than be outshone by their social media competitors.
To give a bit of background, Pandora, started in 2000, is the world’s most powerful music discovery platform with over 80 million active users. Spotify, launched in 2008, also allows its 60 million active users to play music directly from the cloud, and features more than 30 million tracks. One of the key differences between the two is their source of revenue- while Spotify has about 20% of their 60 million users pay for the service, Pandora only has 3.5 million paying customers. This suggests that the benefits of Spotify’s Premium memberships outweigh the cost compared to Pandora’s offerings. The two programs have both joined forces with Facebook, allowing for users to share their playlists and music activity with their Facebook friends. Spotify also features a “Music Chat” component, which provides users with a free space to chat about anything music related. Much like how Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram allow for individuals to express themselves through design, images and graphics, Spotify and Pandora allow for the same creative expression but through the art of music. In the case of Spotify, it allows for users to use their own creative discretion in creating playlists comprised of whatever musical tracks, artists and genre that they want. When adding in the social media aspect, this provides an outlet for users’ creations to be shared to the world, giving them a way to represent themselves through a collaboration of sounds that they themselves have designed. In the case of Pandora, their use of the Music Genome Project, which is the most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken, allows for users to be provided with the most personalized listening experience possible. By utilizing the wealth of musicological information stored in the Music Genome Project, Pandora recognizes and responds to each individual’s tastes. “The result is a much more personalized radio experience – stations that play music you’ll love – and nothing else.” This too allows for users to represent themselves via personalized music playlists.
In a world where reputation is something that takes a lifetime to create and yet can be lost in a matter of seconds, it is important for individuals to have creative outlets to represent themselves in a more personal and less serious manner. There is no right or wrong when it comes to personal taste in music, and with programs such as Spotify and Pandora, creative expression through music is celebrated rather than critiqued. It allows for personal representation that can be shared and result in strong connections made with like-minded users on a global scale. Most importantly, it allows for people to choose how they want to portray themselves through their personal taste in music, empowering individuals to practice freedom of expression in a safe and unrestricted forum.