Most of you are probably reading this because of a little project called PropertyOfZack, a music blog I ran from 2009-2015. In our heyday, PropertyOfZack grew its traffic by consistently being first to post music news, by pioneering features like Playlists, by aggregating album releases/tour dates -- our goal was to keep improving our content for our readers by outpacing the competition in our blog’s space. But by the time we transitioned in 2015, our traffic was beginning to fall. Not because our blog competitors were improving, but because the news was getting easier to find from other sources -- like streaming services, social media, or even apps like Bandsintown. Lucas Shaw’s Hollywood Torrent newsletter from this past weekend points this out by outlining how Apple and Spotify are becoming the new music blogs. Because, well, they are -- and it’s a big part of why POZ is dead, and why nothing has taken its place. From the newsletter:
Spotify wants to give customers a reason to use its app instead of Apple's, and vice versa. How do they do that? Make nice with the artist. These services are eager to prove they are the secret ingredient to turning an artist into a star, and are using their large user bases to perform many of the functions once performed by music blogs, record labels and radio.
What are those functions? Well, if you use Spotify, you’re treated to (almost) all the music you could want, every tour date in your area for artists you follow, auto-notifications when new music is released from those artists, and playlists that recommend new music from artists that you may like. Plus, sometimes you’ll get exclusive releases, or live sessions from third parties like Audiotree. And that is fucking awesome. But what room does that leave for music blogs, if a streaming service provides enough of the info you need?
At their core, streaming services are just dumb pipes, which means that to get you to sign up, Spotify and Apple Music need to compete above just providing catalog. They need to be the best at showing you tour dates, new releases, and interesting pieces of content. Much like how POZ had to improve in order to win readership against comparable music blogs, Spotify and Apple are now locked in competition to provide the best services they can in order to win the dollar of the music fan. And ultimately, while the competition is to the benefit of both the listener and the artists who will see their streams continue to grow, it is one of the reasons that small music blogs are being driven out of relevance.