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Why there are virtually no social media apps for music yet?

Image credit: Kate Mcelwee

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Povilas S
Povilas S Sep 04, 2020
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Necessity

Is the problem still unsolved?

Conciseness

Is it concisely described?

Do you know/use any good music-social media app? Would you want one? And I don’t mean Spotify or SoundCloud. I mean an app where people could share their favourite music and get linked with people having similar tastes in music as well as discover new music not with the help of algorithms, but with the help of people. Those that fit the description are either not popular enough yet or already failed or still in development. Why those apps don’t get established? Is there one main reason for this or is it a mixture of factors? Maybe creators need a different kind of approach to solve the problem for establishing those apps?

Even if one or few of those apps would arise and become successful soon, there would still be a valid question - why did it took so long? The need is obvious – people love to share music, love to discover music and one of the main things that connects people is music. So why no widespread apps for that yet? Music streaming services as well as social media apps have been around for a long time already, but not the combination of the two. After researching the topic now and then as time passes, I’m starting to come to the conclusion that it’s not that people didn’t try or don’t try now to establish them, it’s that for some reason(s) those apps fail.

One good app of this category that I used, was called Cymbal. It worked well, the design was good and it had enough users to keep it going and growing, but at one point creators announced that they are shutting down the project , “..like its closest equivalent Soundwave it didn’t quite manage to find a mass-audience or successful business model” - the article explains. Creators themselves explain it a bit differently: “We believe there is a lot to be done and not enough people doing it. Yes, music technology is a tough nut to crack. The licensing issues are enough to intimidate developers into giving up. But please don’t be intimidated! Music is too important, and one of the best ways we can support the artists we love is by creating tools that help them succeed. To this day we believe that somewhere in Cymbal’s app is a really beautiful product the world needs. We encourage you to find it.”

But is this what happens to all of the efforts? What could be the core of the problem? Could we come up with some creative solutions or is it just a matter of time and persistence?
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Creative contributions

Music media in a different business model

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Nova Faham
Nova Faham Nov 09, 2020
Apple tried adding social media to its music streaming service, it was called connect or something, and people didn't use it enough and it got shut down. I believe that while many of us want this idea/platform to exist, we don't see the bigger picture that we aren't actually enough, nor do we (music lovers) interact in the same way that people who enjoy sharing posts of their food do, hence we don't provide a sustainable business model for profit, and that would be the main reason for such apps failing, it could be combination of all the reasons everyone here has mentioned, maybe some others that we haven't thought of. Again, if Apple with its enormous user base didn't work it out, then it probably doesn't work out in today's current standards of business.

My suggestion would be creating an app/platform that isn't set up under the current business models, but a new fresh model unique to the music lovers society. An example would be that it isn't free/ad based, but subscription based, where there is revenue to at least keep the app running regardless of the number of users or how much time they spend on the app, and the app would only scale up if more subscribers joined. At that point we can for sure know how much this is an actual need for people, because let's say if the monthly payment is something like 4$, it would be an indication of how much people are actually involved in music in their daily lives and characters.
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Embarrassment

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Martina Pesce
Martina Pesce Nov 04, 2020
Yes! I do want one so badly! You said there are some, even if not so famous: would you list them here for me (or is it just soundwave and the now shut down one?)? I want to be sure I'm not missing some out. Also, what's your favorite among them?
I believe a reason for this kind of socials to not exists is the feeling of being ashamed of our own music taste. I found myself being embarrassed in letting other people I know on Spotify aware of what I was listening to.

Maybe a social network that makes this activity cool and still enjoyable and rewarding with people who are not your friends on the social could solve this deal-breaker. This will probably make everyone more confident in their taste and as a consequence, they won't mind sharing also with friends.
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Povilas S
Povilas Sa year ago
I wish there was, but unfortunately.. Usually, it goes like that - some experimental app appears with great promises for success, it launches, some people try it (it's not fun if there are few people there, you can imagine), and then it fails. Cymbal was the only one I actually used and liked. It was good in design and there were quite a lot of people there (for almost any song you were about to post, few other people would have done it already). I google this topic from time to time to see what's changed, but I didn't find something worth trying yet. And believe me, if one of those got popular enough, you'd hear about it one way or another:) But since it's so hard for them to get established it's probably a good idea to search on your own from time to time and try some out to support them.

https://moodagent.com/ --> this looks like something maybe worth trying, but they say it's only available in Denmark for now and it's more for discovery than sharing as I understand.
https://musera.net/--> another example of a similar app that seems to have stopped working. Tried to download it, doesn't work. Comments on google play confirm the same.

About not wanting to show to others what you're listening to - this is mostly because of the social bubble of already familiar people. Spotify is connected to Facebook and you can see what people, that are more or less familiar to you, are listening to. I don't like being shown there either. But the good news is - you can turn it off:D But that's the whole point - to see what your friends are listening to is one thing, but it's totally different when unfamiliar people are matched by similar music tastes, that's what those apps should be about. You can only be afraid to share something or show what are you listening to if you think that people won't like it (this is often the case with familiar people because you know their taste/opinions). Otherwise, you'd love to share it, because you enjoy it. So if you say listen to the song you like and the app can show you people who also like it, the problem would be solved and it would be great. You would not only have no fear but also have something to talk about.
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Slow pace

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Nov 04, 2020
When you say you want a "social media" app for music, you mean you want the app to connect you with people with similar musical tastes. This does not require you to "listen" to the music on the app. You have listened to some music/ songs some time back and you want to share what you feel about it. For that, and to attract other's opinions on your favorite pieces of music, you can use the currently available social media apps - Facebook.

All social media apps get you hooked by using visual cues. They hate it when you leave your screen and pay attention to something else. This type of technique will not work if you make a social media app for music. Music needs to be heard (apart from music videos). You do not need to look at your screen constantly while listening to music. That takes your (visual) attention to other things around you and it is hard for the apps to get you back on the screen. Also, when you are listening to music, there is a lag (the time you do not spend looking at your screen), which reduces your activity on the app. It reduces the speed of collection of your activities. May be the reduced speed and attention make the app financially unsustainable, since you do not look at and hear the advertisements displayed on the app.
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Povilas S
Povilas Sa year ago
Ordinary social media is not good for this at all. It's not designed to connect you with people that have similar musical tastes. In fact, it's not in any way oriented towards music. The only thing you can do is post a song for your "friends" to see. The essential thing that is lacking is the ability of an app to offer you people who would appreciate your post because they like similar music. So that users would be able to discover people that way and as a consequence - new music through people.

The ability to listen to music directly on the app is not essential (you could give links to streaming services, etc.), but it would be a huge benefit. It's possible to combine everything. The visual part you are talking about would be when you post music in the app for others to see and when you interact with people (messages, comments), you would spend time browsing profiles of people who shared the same songs, etc. So the visual part would not disappear. Interactions with that kind of app would be mostly visual. Also, music videos could be available.

Music streaming services like Spotify survive with audible ads. If they would add a social feature like this they would only increase the time you interact.
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When can a social media app for music thrive?

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Nov 04, 2020
It can thrive when social media is feed to you using auditory signals instead of visual ones. Imagine a scenario where Facebook feeds you via your headphones - it tells you where your friends had dinner last night and whom your cousin is getting engaged to. You plug in and listen to the feed while driving your car. To interact (like, comment, share, tag), you talk to the social media app and tell it what you want to do. After hearing a feed, you tell the app to like it and comment "whatever you feel like". When we arrive at such an auditory-mediated social media app, music will be greatly shared and talked about on the app. You could listen to it while being plugged into the app. You could listen to other's comments on it and then decide whether you want to connect with them and listen to the music they have posted/ recommended, etc.
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Povilas S
Povilas Sa year ago
That sounds like an idea on its own. But do you really think that might be the main reason why it's hard to combine the two - music belonging to the audio domain and social media mostly to the visual domain? I personally don't see a problem in combining them, it even seems complementary. You could listen to a song and then go and chat with people about it in a written form, comment, etc. I don't see why e.g. Spotify couldn't add this social feature and connect people all around the world according to their music tastes. A lot of people use youtube as the main music streaming service. Many videos there are not videos at all, they just have one constant frame. And it has a bit of a social feature also, although limited.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarnia year ago
Povilas S That is exactly my point. If it is that easy to combine the music and the social media aspect, why do you think they haven't done it or they don't work? One of the reasons, I think, is the financial unsustainability. Advertisements are the way Facebook does that. It can pitch advertisements within your feed. How would you advertise when you are listening to a song? You can place an audio advertisement before the song, which will again increase your non-screen time. To act upon the advertisement, you need to open the app and click on the link provided by the advertisement. How many users, do you think, will pause/ prolong listening to their song to view an advertisement? We know how annoying Youtube advertisements can be. However, we sit through those advertisements since there is a video playing after that. To successfully run a music app, you need to find a sure source of income from the users.
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Povilas S
Povilas Sa year ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni I don't know what is the main reason for failure of those apps, but this one doesn't seem to be a convincing reason for me, because:

1. As you mentioned yourself - this could work without music streaming feature built into the platform, you could simply give links to listen on other platforms, that way the app would be purely visual, just like Facebook or other social media, but with all the features oriented towards music lovers that ordinary social media lacks.

2. Music streaming services like Spotify and many others base their financial model on audible ads and they are successful platforms, so built-in streaming feature into such novel app could also have ads and subscription for ad-free listening. Why couldn't this work?

3. Combining the two would simply mean the ability to play songs directly on the app rather than through links, in that case, they could put both visual ads and audio ads if they wanted, which seems like double profit.
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