Passive Listening ⇒

Great article on the digital music business over at The Verge:

{% blockquote -Paul Miller The Verge %} Spotify is doing similar work on “radio” playback. “Radio contributes to the overall music discovery experience,” a Spotify representative told me, “which is why Spotify Radio has recently undergone a top-to-bottom overhaul making it a bigger, smarter and an altogether cooler music discovery experience.”

Rdio’s on board as well: “Passive listening is something that’s critical in the overall experience,” says Drew Larner, the service’s CEO.

Despite Pandora’s big head start, the huge libraries and lack of radio-style licensing restrictions on for-pay streaming services means there’s a ton of opportunity here to offer something people have never heard before — namely, everything. And the seamless operation is a big leg up on ad hoc music piracy: “Even if 14 million songs were free, people would still gravitate to radio services,” says David. “I hate to say it, but my mom listens to the music stations that come with her cable TV.” {% endblockquote %}

I think “passive watching” might be the missing piece of the streaming video pie. Americans may watch 4-5 hours of cable a day, but how much of it is actually “active.” I like to keep reruns of Law & Order on while I’m doing dishes, for example.

Champions of on-demand streaming services cite the ability only watch what you want and nothing else, but even choosing what to watch is an active process. I think the game-changing set-top-box will be the one that starts playing video the moment you turn it on. That’s the comfort that keeps so many people tied to cable.