Streaming service acquires music discovery service. Is this the latest trend in the curation of online music?

spotifyFollowing Twitter’s recent purchase of discovery service We Are Hunted and the launch of Twitter #Music, Spotify has announced its acquisition of the Swedish startup Tunigo. But will the deal give genuine impetus to Spotify’s hopes of diversifying into music discovery?

At a press conference in December, Spotify founder Daniel Ek acknowledged that, while useful to people who know what they want to listen to, Spotify had been failing to help users navigate the bounty of new music at their fingertips. During the conference, he announced various new features for the new year that would plunge Spotify into the world of music discovery. While the new strategic direction was important, Spotify’s big reveals around discovery (such as being able to ‘Follow’ people for music suggestions) were, understandably, data-based mechanisms, rather than genuinely curated recommendations.

As we noted on the tenth anniversary of iTunes, it would be remiss for huge music platforms not to use the copious amounts of data which flow through their services each day. However, industry big dogs including Jimmy Iovine argue that the way to dominate music subscription in years to come will be to put genuine music curation, rather than simply data discovery, at the centre of the service. Iovine argues that tech companies are “culturally inept”, and what subscription needs is a combination of “human and math”. This is what he hopes to achieve with Beats’ Daisy streaming service. Given the $60m investment Daisy won in March, he could be well on his way.

Tunigo is undeniably a music curation service. The vast selection of playlists for every imaginable genre, or mood, or situation, is created by people. Each one has a short description (albeit fairly arbitrary) about what the playlist might be appropriate for, or what sounds it focusses on. Spotify’s purchase of Tunigo and, importantly, their maintenance of its service, is an attempt to bridge the gap between data-driven discovery and genuine music curation. Will this acquisition propel Spotify away from being simply, in the words of Iovine, a utility?

Author Zara Carey
9th May, 2013

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