The Soundtrack of our lives

Have you ever wondered why your life isn’t as awesome as what you see in those magical travel ads, or movies? Why there’s something missing when you stroll in a picturesque part of the world and the experience doesn’t quite live up to that amazing travel ad you saw. Even though you are right there! Perhaps it’s because our life doesn’t quite come with a soundtrack.

Sure we all love music in some form or the other (there are a rare few who don’t that I have met). Our very tastes in music define us. Music distribution has changed so drastically from the days of Napster. Remember that? Listening to music has never been easier in developed countries with streaming services today. We’ve come a long way from Grooveshark with freemium services like Spotify that literally puts almost every conceivable album at our finger tips. It’s so successful that today in Singapore you hardly find any CD shops! But what is lacking from this digital experience is context. The music we love doesn’t sync naturally with circumstances, though we have the technology to. Most of us have activity trackers on our writsts.

Don’t get me wrong, I do agree that everyone listens to a particular type of music to match their moods. One of Spotify’s key marketing potentials is to match these moods to marketing messaging by tapping into time of day playlists. These playlists are a combination of user curated to those crafted by Spotify’s in-house team. There are themes, there are moods and a plethora of options to pick from. So what do I mean that its lacking in context? Well imagine if a particular song doesn’t play until you see that beautiful sunset or walk past that coffee shop or meet that exercise goal. Not yet reality, but even that could change.

We are living in an age when we will see the dawn of the contextual sound track of our lives. With enough machine learning and data points Spotfiy is going to be able to slip in a song that’s based on context (your mood and body signs),  based on location, time of day, brands that you are walking by. It’s happening today. Geo-targeting mapped to weather data was used by Spotify to ensure that you hear Austin based White Denim’s new song only if it happens to be raining in your area. True this is more of a publicity stunt than anything else and doesn’t make sense in the long run, denying those fans who can’t listen to the music they want to will probably encourage them to do so by other means. But it’s an interesting concept.

Geo-location and music, the potential is limitless. Think for example you walk in close proximity to a Nike store and hear the sound track from Rocky playing, just when you hit that crescendo you are at the store-front and you see an instore display that makes that connection. Perhaps you spy a pair of boxing gloves next to the latest pair of sneakers. You get the picture don’t. The customer is subconsciously primed with the music and the instore communication capitalises on this. This is the future of marketing with sound.

With enough machine learning and the amount of data that Spotify is probably collecting from your device, this is going to be very likely possible. After all they already curate music for you to listen, based on your listening patterns. Our cell-phones document our daily lives in so many ways. Where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing. Always listening and building a pattern profile of our habits and usage. We often sign away this data to companies without realising it, because who really reads the fine print anyway? Done well, the result is hopefully well crafted, non-intrusive marketing that is truly the sound of music to our ears. A song that adds a spring in your step and a song in your head.