The Social Evolution of Music

by Dan Bergeron   

When is the last time you bought a CD?  Not through iTunes or Amazon,  but when is the last time you physically walked into a record store with a group of friends, listened to some sample tracks and purchased that CD?  Over the past decade, the way people listen and share music with one another has changed and evolved.   While the days of downloading mp3 files may not be completely over, there are many new ways of sharing music.  The social side of music has grown and evolved and will continue to do so.

As social platforms have evolved, so have ways of sharing multimedia.   It seems like not too long ago that sites such as Pandora and Grooveshark began to take off.   Pandora is a great way to stream music based on a similar artist or song you might already like.   Grooveshark has this capability as well, but also allows users to add specific songs to their streaming playlist.  While these are both very cool ways of playing music at a party, the social interaction is fairly limited.  I've seen people crowd around a computer arguing over songs to add to the play list, or what genre station to choose.  It can get a little heated as one might suspect.  Both Pandora and Grooveshark are excellent ways of enjoying music on a personal level and I regularly use both.

While these sites have been great for individual enjoyment, music is very much a social experience.  People like to share their taste in music, go to concerts with others, and even sing karaoke together.  People naturally want to share their music interests with one another, and there are increasingly more ways for users to do exactly that.

Although, Spotify has been around for several years in Europe it has only recently become available in the US.  Spotify allows mobile users to search for music, share it with friends, collaborate on play lists and even connect with Facebook to share with friends online.  Spotify has already proved to be extremely successful in Europe and the social music experience is catching on in the US quickly.  It has received a lot of well-deserved attention with over 10 million active users, 1 million of which actually use the paid premium version.

While Spotify has been around for a few years, Turntable.fm was launched this year and only recently became available to the public.  This site asks users to connect  and login with their Facebook account.  Once logged in, they have the ability to create or join rooms of other users with a similar taste in music.  They can also 'become a DJ,' adding songs to a playlist that can then be voted on.  Turntable.fm brings a whole new aspect to the social side of music, allowing a much higher level of social interaction among users.   It is a great way to discover and share new songs.

There are several other apps catching on that provide a more social music experience.  Roqbot is an application that allows users to choose songs through their iPod Touch and add to a play list at a physical venue.  Songs can also be voted on.   This app among many others represent only the beginning of a more social music scene.  With time, the ways that we share music with one another will continue to evolve.  Although the days going to a record store and buying CD's with your friends might be a thing of the past, music has continued its social evolution.

How will social music applications change the way you share a music experience with your friends?