May 18, 2012

MaaS Appeal: The Music We Listen to as a Service


Music execs, recording artists, music distributors, retailers and technologists all gathered at the NARM (National Association of Recording Merchandisers) MusicBiz 2012 summit last week. As with any event related to music, this event offers plenty of opportunity to network and share the latest of what's hot, and what's not, in the music industry. As a cornerstone of this year’s App Alley showcase, we had the opportunity to bring along Mashery customers JamBase, Rdio and Rovi to show off the power of APIs and how the music business can leverage APIs to uncover new ways to distribute music.

A theme throughout the event was the challenge of bringing today's digital music to the ears of music lovers through the numerous devices thatproliferate our daily lives. Whether we listen with our iPhone or our Wi-Fienabled cars, the we not only have, but want, a say in how we consume music. In essence, it's about access versus ownership. Music as a Service (MaaS), in which we pay for the access to content, is not the future - it's the now. Just as we pay for access to movies on Netflix, TV shows on Hulu or for that matter light in our homes, when we hit the switch, we expect the light bulb, or the track we want to listen to at that moment to simply be ON.

A great example of how companies are providing access to music can be found through applications that leverage the Rdio and Spotify APIs. Spotify's Open API platform allowed developers from X5 Music Group to create an app based on Spotify's classical music category called Classify. According to Spotify, "Classify opens the doors to the world of classical music. Browse by composers, eras, moods, instruments or genres. Our vast library of classical music is now intelligently organized for your listening pleasure." Mashery customer Rdio has numerous applications based on its platform. The 54th Grammy Awards leveraged the Rdio API to create the 'We Are Music' App which allows users to visualize their music using photos.

What makes these apps so important is their time of delivery andpurpose. Because the content was available via an API, development time wasmade shorter, apps could be made for a specific purpose and the ability to work with the music from multiple artists was made much easier as Rdio and Spotify have already done the hard work of negotiating usage of the material.

The music business as a whole is still in its infancy of what is about to happen when it comes to digital music. Companies such as Mashery and customers eMusic, JamBase, RootMusic, Rovi and Rdio have gotten us off to agreat start by creating platforms for individuals to consume the music we love and follow the artist that create it. As radio plays the continuous loop of Top 40, we discover new artist through these new digital music distribution platforms. What's next can only be derived from the creative minds of thosethat are developing engaging ways to interact with the created content - both personally and socially. Music platforms with APIs make it easier to integrate into Facebook, Twitter or any social network. Social networks allow listeners to share and discover new artist. Wash, rinse, repeat, replay - and in mostcases, re-purchase.