Op-Ed: Daily Mix – By Bob Lefsetz


This is a breakthrough.

The problem with Apple Music is it's locked behind a paywall, and unlike Sirius there's no amnesty, no free weekends, once your trial period is up you're gone, forever, unless you want to pony up.

I know, I know, it's hard to compete with a free tier. On YouTube and Spotify. But have you forgotten the deep dark ages wherein piracy ruled, when MP3s were de rigueur? Did you buy the iPhone 7 with 256 GB? Why? We used to need to cart all our music around with us, now it's available on demand, and we can sync a modicum of playlists to the device for listening off the grid.

So, Daily Mix is a daily playlist. You can read about it here.

Jimmy Iovine promises future miracles to Buzzfeed, Spotify surprises us with a new feature available today, as Steve Jobs famously did at the end of almost every product introduction. You give us what we didn't even know we wanted and we can test it out immediately, this is the instant gratification the internet was built on.

The internet was not built on hype. The internet was built on product. Marketing a website is a waste of time. You want to enable users who spread the word.

I can't tell you exactly what Daily Mix is. But I just checked it out on my handset and…there are only fifteen tracks. Playlists need to get shorter, otherwise they're incomprehensible, we've got to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Now upon launching the Spotify app I found six Daily Mixes. There's only supposed to be one a day, but I guess I'm seeing the beta prototypes as well as today's.

Daily Mix 1 has got all the old rockers. From the Stones to the Beatles to Zeppelin to Jackson Browne. All winners, it's good to see what I'm familiar with.

But more satisfying is Daily Mix 2, which focuses on my country listening. It's got Luke Bryan and Eric Church and Steven Tyler and Florida Georgia Line as well as some tracks I haven't heard.

That's the essence of Daily Mix. Some of what you already know mixed in with that which you don't. It's an evolving process. But it's satisfying.

The goal is to get more people to listen to more music.

And Spotify has done this here.

And, for the canard that per stream payments are going down… OF COURSE THEY ARE! Did you flunk math? There's a pool of money that's divided by listens, so the more people subscribe and the more people listen the less each stream is worth, if you're concentrating on a penny rate (or fraction of a penny rate!) you're doing it the old way, now it's all about a percentage.

Spotify is running away with this game. By being married to the technology first and the art form second. Innovation always comes from outside, those who are not inured to the old ways. The company has some of the worst marketing known to man, but it's the leader, as it should be.

iHeart has got no chance. Haven't we learned in digital that there's a first-mover advantage? The only way you can supersede the starter is by doing it grossly better, incremental improvement is not enough. And the only way you can win is if the leader lags, fails to innovate.

Innovate or die. That's how Apple became the world's most valuable company, that's why it's gonna flag in the future. You can only ride the old hits so long, and unlike a classic rock act, no one wants to listen to their old iPod.

This is good. Piracy has been eviscerated, people are inside the walled garden and subscribers and revenue are going up. One company will be the leader, and right now you should bet on Spotify. Forget all the hogwash about the fundamentals, the loss of cash, if they stopped investing right now they'd be profitable. But like internet hero Jeff Bezos they understand it's a long game, you look to a far distant destination, when you've corralled the market and own it, and are making tons of money to boot.

Remember when people were afraid to buy things on the web?

Remember when humans used to curate Amazon recommendations?

Remember when Amazon stumbled on to Web Services, driving growth?

Never listen to the naysayers married to the past, it's already in the rearview mirror. Bet on those risking, changing it up. And this applies in art too. The new and different ultimately rules. And now that streaming has won we can focus on the tunes. And the more we get the tunes in front of people the better chance they have to gain traction.

Sure, radio was great, banging the same few tunes over and over again.

But few got a chance to play back then.

Now, everybody can play, but there's chaos.

Discover Weekly, Release Radar and now Daily Mix are steps to end that chaos, to make music listening and discovery comprehensible.

The rocket has left the launch pad.


And we're all on board.

Partake of the riches.

And know that subscription revenue is only gonna go up.

Sometimes you've got to give it away for people to be convinced.

Some people will never pay.

But music is addictive, it's the spice of life, and people show up for it, as opposed to so many other products.

YouTube is a lame free service based on video. Its Red application has no traction. This is what happens when you rest on your laurels.

Forget about stream-ripping.

Forget about YouTube.

Tell everybody how great Spotify is.

BECAUSE THEN YOU'RE GONNA MAKE MONEY!