Whilst attending our Wednesday morning Research and Enquiry seminar with Dr Marius Carboni, we were given the task of comprising a business analysis of online streaming service Spotify. As a group we discussed how to best approach this task. One of the challenge we would have to overcome was finding academic material on such a niche subject. As I regular user of this service and aspiring producer I thought this was a great opportunity to gather valuable information how it works from a business perspective.
Friday Evening 11.10.13.
Friday evening was fantastic. I spent a few hours in the evening preparing a lovely roast as well as uploading audio, video and photo files to my mac whilst listening to Spotify. Geared toward my project in producing, engineering and composing my own full studio and live album, I decided to stream a number of ska reggae influences and have a thorough listen and analyse the dynamics, timbre, texture, mix, EQ, compression and numerous other aspects as a music technologist and enthusiast. Ultimately what I was looking for was what I liked and what I did not. Then to theorise why I liked what I did, and why I did not like what I did not. . . It sounds simple in practice but for the most part; especially with either the unavailability of studio documentation or pure lack of it, the understanding such things need to be related back to similar examples which are documented, or back to my own experiences and knowledge of the technology age it was derived. It was also great to overview the progression of technological advancements through a creatively increasing progression. The era of which I am thinking of in particular is the mid 60′s until now, how ever for the purpose of this I am sticky fairly closely to this particular genre.
It was upon opening of Blur’s Spotify homepage where I found something very interesting. As photographed you can see that their most played track totalled in at three times more plays than their next most popular song. I believe this has a lot to do with the tracks commercial advertising use over the years.
This led my to search for academic writing on both streaming services and music in advertising. There were some interesting leads but nothing that was tailored towards the analytical viewpoint I was coming from. I read through a paper on “Understanding User Behaviour” in Spotify. This merely outlined user software interactions and analysed the data in a quantitive way, illustrating the times and durations of use.
I also read an article published on the website of the Association for Consumer Research. This piece analysed the mood and emotional responses of listeners from a music therapists point of view. Though engaged at specifically advertising it was great to generalise and relate the analysis to music and sound effects of all descriptions.Comprised of a very deep phycological analysis of responses from all senses, however, mainly visual and auditory cues. Whilst breaking these down it did not seem to mention that we each perceive these cues differently depending on our own visual and auditory experiences.
While on a basic level it is good to know that a musically minor tone will create a mood of sadness, where as, a major one will influence your empathy in a positive manor, I believe that on responding to a timbre/ sound that relates to a positive or negative emotional time in adolescence has more impact upon listening. For example my parents listened to rock and roll and music guided around a typical band setup, on listening to music of that timbre and sound it immediately makes me think of that time in my life. Someone who may have spent their early childhood listening to classical or jazz music would similarly be taken to back to that time in their life more likely upon listening to classical or jazz instead to rock or roll.
This is all very relevant in terms of doing your market research when producing any advertisement and fully understanding your targeted audience. In many instances the targeted demographic will incorporate numerous backgrounds. Over the years we have seen more advertising using a fusion of styles in both auditory and visual aspects. A great example of an artist who incorporates a fusion of melodic content in the form of classical, jazz and funk with rhythmic influence in dance, hip hop, drum and bass and dub is Bonobo. His music has been used commercially in TV programs, (both fictional and nonfictional), Films and adverts including one for the ‘Citroen Picasso’. I believe his success in this sense is partly due to a very tasteful selection and fusion of what might be described as a more contemporary and mature musical content, with a very up to date, relevant and youthful sound. Listeners from numerous musical background experiences can listen both passively, and actively to his music and will be feeding off numerous neurological cues and memories.
Digressing slightly, but I have met Simon Green (Bonobo) and seen him perform a number times. From a musical technologist perspective his arrangement and production values are inspirational.
Recommended listening references:
Studio Recording relevant genre: Madness, The Specials, The Jam, The Beatles, The Who, Blur, The Skints, Sublime, Bob Marley and The Wailers, The Ordinary Boys, Paul Weller, The Police.
Non Relevant genre: Stac, Massive Attack, Machinedrum
I find you can overkill deep analysis in a particular style, I find taking a break out of your particular style often lets you reset your hearing and have a more all rounded view when going back into the task in question.
Advertising musical references: