I have to admit, reading the New York Times’ recent commentary on how word-of-mouth is the future, caught me a little off-guard. Discussing the future of the music business, and the online business model in general, the article argues that Facebook may not last much longer and that word-of-mouth is the future.
A project at Columbia Records invited 20 college students a diverse group of universities you work on various music-related projects and towards the end, asked them to participate in a focus group. According to information gleaned from the focus group,
They told us that MySpace is over, it’s just not cool anymore; Facebook is still cool, but that might not last much longer; and the biggest thing in their life is word of mouth. That’s how they hear about music, bands, everything.
What caught me off-guard is how unaware people are of the power of social media technologies like Facebook and what they can be utilized for. The results can be attributed to the small size of the focus group; what is Facebook if not the fastest and most efficient way to network with a large group of people to share and discuss with them anything you want? As far as music is concerned, with dozens of applications that let you create, post, share, and discuss, you’re music-life couldn’t be easier.
As it stands, I could go from friend to friend asking what music they like, check it for compatibility with my own music interests, and then ask them what else they like, and so on. On the other hand, I could go to my profile, click on a band I like and look at hundreds of other people who like the same band and look at what music they are listening to. Or, I could let the Last.fm desktop application keep track of my music-listening habits and tell me what other music I would like. 95% of the new music that I discover is through socially driven services (whether it be a social network, or a service like Last.fm).
Fact of the matter is that social media is the new word-of-mouth and it’s about time we stepped out of the last century way of thinking about wom.