✖️ Sameness in music and social tech leads to opportunities around digital scarcity
And: Weverse heads west; Taylor Swift 💖 Disney; vaccine music saviour?; The Flaming Lips' bubbles
Setting the stage
A while back Cherie Hu investigated the sameness of music-streaming services’ UI.
It’s just impossible to tell the difference between these services. And this issue extends into social media platforms more generally. Sara Fischer, writing for Axios, investigated the sameness levels in the features dominating social tech:
Opportunities to create scarcity
Where there’s sameness, there’s possibilities to differentiate. Let’s look into a few of these surrounding scarcity in a time of abundance.
₿ The Non-Fungible Token [NFT] has been making waves, moving from the cats into the world of art and now into the music space. All this happens on the blockchain, where the NFT is unique and indivisible allowing a value of scarcity to be attached to it. Most music projects so far are actually multi-media projects as the audio-NFT actually requires some form of visual media to support the audio format. The whole idea of the NFT is around the scarcity of the ownership: while anyone can see/hear the media attached to the NFT, only one can own it.
🎟️ When it comes to livestreaming, the pandemic has taught us that there’s an appetite for it that will likely remain beyond this period in our history. Right now, we’re still moving from everything being free into a space where livestreamed shows are becoming ticketed. The next step, or better yet a concurrent step, should be to create scarcity. We can take some advice from StageIt, who’ve been at livestreaming for a long time now, and release tickets in small batches. Taking this one step further, my advice is to always create an amount of tickets where you sell out.
⏲️ A favourite trope in scarcity is time. Think, for example, of the forever marketing trick of the limited-time-offer. However, if we flip that idea on its head we come to not the offer being limited, but the music being limited. What if we only make the audio to a song, EP, or album available for a limited amount of time. Once Upon A Time in Shaolin by the Wu-Tang Clan is probably the best known example of this - although it also comes close to the NFT and the idea of viewing music as an object of art. Creating music that will disappear after a certain amount of time seems to go against everything that we know in our culture of ubiquity. And yet, that may be why it could make for high-value creation.
🐭 Disney+ has cemented itself as a household name after one year. Talk of them taking on Netflix is totally besides the point for me. It’s more likely that a combination of Disney+ and Netflix will make even more people consider cutting out their TV subscription. But, with Disney+ growing so fast, it’s interesting to keep tabs on what they do with music. After providing a home for Beyoncé, they’ve now announced a concert film by Taylor Swift.
🤶 Full disclosure: I use no Apple products. This time of year, I’m always keen to see the new John Lewis and Coca Cola Christmas adverts. Since the Spike Jonze and FKA Twigs Homepod Christmas advert two years ago, Apple has joined that list. This year’s video doesn’t disappoint, with Tierra Whack starring:
♾️ YouTube and Google Creative Lab have created the world’s first infinite music video. To celebrate Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy hitting 1 billion streams they put together every cover of the song available on YouTube and they allow you to play around with it on its own dedicated mini website.
🇰🇷 Weverse is a South-Korean app built by Big Hit Entertainment to support fan communities. Now, it’s expanding to include US-signed artists. First up are three Interscope artists: Gracie Abrams, Alexander 23, and YUNGBLUD. There’s a lot to be said for the way fan engagement is monetized around Asia versus Europe and the US. Let’s see where this takes us.
🧼 More on those bubbles and The Flaming Lips, this time from Scott Booker, the band’s manager, in an interview with Pollstar:
“Preparing 100 bubbles, deflating them, putting them in a certain spot, getting them ready – all that kind of stuff is boring. But then when it pays off and happens, there’s nothing like it.”
💉 The big question on everyone’s lips: Will a coronavirus vaccine save the live music industry? We’ll need some ingenuity before it does!
👩💻 Another one of those changing trends that’s seen an acceleration is that of the Twitch-streamer moving from gamers to artists. Vice dives into the connection with fans on Twitch, both while streaming and through other tools such as Discord.
🌈 A little bit of feel-good to round off today. The Atlantic has a feature on the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps, who will be the first openly LGBTQ+ group to perform at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They had to get creative to practice during pandemic restrictions needing 80 musicians, colour-guard members, and confetti-canon shooters in one place to bring the show together.
I’ve been listening to In Blue, the new record by The Bug and Dis Fig. It’s fittingly released on Hyperdub, so often the home of these genre-bending musical explorations. The Bug’s beats straddle somewhere between broken-down techno and dub/ambient. Dis Fig’s vocals are not so much a focal point, but woven into the landscape of beats and instrumentalism. Definitely one of those records best heard through headphones.