Telenor conducts research project to gain insight on how you discover, share and recommend music.
Beathe Due, PhD and researcher for Telenor Corporate Development, wants to take a peek at your playlists. She is looking for insight into why you stream certain music, how you share it and how you recommend it to your friends. Did one of your friends tell you about a great new song? Did you download it and then tell others? That’s exactly what Due wants to know.
How do people discover content?
“What we see is that all content is going digital. So we need to find out how people discover content in this overwhelming world of digital media. How do they share it and how do they recommend it? Those were the key questions we wanted to answer when we launched our research project,” said Due.
In conjunction with Telenor’s “Future Media” project, Due’s research team took on the task of identifying music streaming trends by combining user data from WiMP with actual user feedback gathered during Øya Festival, Norway’s most popular music event. Due worked alongside students and professors from the University of Oslo, as well as fellow Telenor researchers.
Analyzing WiMP data
Their first step was to look at the data from Aspiro, the music streaming provider behind WiMP.
“From our data, we learned how many people use the service, what types of music they are listening to, which artists are most popular, and more. All of the data was completely anonymous, protecting the privacy of the WiMP users,” explained Due.
Focus groups during Øya Festival
The next step was to visit Øya Festival from August 10-14 in Oslo. Instead of rocking out to the music, Due’s team was all business and conducted six different focus groups with attendees.
“We held focus groups after the festival, interviewing people who actively use music streaming services. We wanted to take a look at the interplay between a live music festival and digital music,” said Due.
Popular at Øya translates to popular on WiMP
The information gathered from the festival was then compared with the user data from Aspiro. For example, when Øya attendees raved about a particular artist, Aspiro’s user data showed increased streaming of that artist’s music on WiMP.
Music spreads between friends
“Most of the respondents at Øya Festival said that their friends are their sources for finding new music. They talk to them, mostly face-to-face, and act upon their recommendations. But we also see people tweeting, sending SMSs or calling their friends to share their new music discoveries,” said Due.
Telenor recently conducted a study on the spread of the iPhone, showing that you are more likely to own an iPhone if your friends own an iPhone. Due’s music streaming study shows the same types of patterns in terms of how songs spread through a social network.
Predicting how songs spread between social networks
“When people say they explore new music through their friends, they are really exploring new music through their social network,” said Kenth Engø-Monsen, a member of Due’s research team. “It’s likely that they are talking to their friends on the phone or sending SMSs, and that’s the kind of data that Telenor has in its warehouse. So essentially, we could predict how a certain song or album would spread between social networks.”
Currently, the coupling of Telenor’s data with Aspiro’s user data is not allowed, but Telenor’s research team believes that one day this will be possible.
The importance of understanding what customers want
“Can you imagine the ultimate digital music service in which you trust Telenor and allow Telenor to browse your interests and based on that, make recommendations to your friends? If you can imagine this service where the data is entrusted to Telenor, you can do unimaginable things in terms of recommendations for those who want it,” said Engø-Monsen.
Beathe Due and her team believe that we are now undergoing a generational shift. With a continually increasing percentage of the population already digitally competent, that number will only rise. In order for the commercial service provider to survive, they will need to know what their customers want.
“The more digitally competent the individual, the more willing they are to leave some personal information behind while online. The digital players can leverage this information to better understand what you as a user want,” said Due. “More and more, users are expecting the digital service provider to know what they want. If a user trusts a product, he will want the option to navigate through the digital media chaos and get recommendations that are tailored to his tastes.”
Due’s team is still in the process of compiling the data and preparing a presentation of their findings. They will present it to Telenor Norway and Aspiro, and they will participate in a panel discussion at the New Media Network conference in November. The will also publish several articles on their research.
“There has been a lot of interest in our unique project. Our study is a best practice case that can be applied to all types of content, even the news or gaming industries,” said Due. “Through this project, we are truly gaining a better understanding of how people are discovering, using, sharing and recommending digital content and services.”