How Spotify and Rdio Are De-Socializing Music Streaming
How Spotify and Rdio Are De-Socializing Music Streaming


In Rdio's advanced settings, users can now choose a privacy setting that will require approval before other users can view their collection, playlists, activity and full user profile.

Streaming music is inherently more social than downloading music. But Spotify and Rdio got a bit less social this week.

Music subscription service Rdio debuted Protected Accounts on Tuesday. The new accounts allow users to approve new followers before they can see their music collections, playlists, listening activity and profile. Users also have the ability to turn off the flow of information Rdio sends to external sites like Facebook and Last.fm. If you don't want Facebook friends following what you're listening to on Rdio, you can turn off that spigot of information.

Spotify Launches 'Private' Mode in Response to Facebook Backlash

This week Spotify took another small step to de-socialize its service when it started allowing U.S.-based users to create new accounts using email rather than Facebook Connect. A Spotify account not linked to Facebook lacks the social features the company has bragged about since launching in July 2011. Without Facebook integration, there can be no song sharing between Facebook users within the service. And without the ability to tap into Facebook's Open Graph, an account without a Facebook account integration will not push out listening activity to its social network.

A Spotify spokesperson told Billboard.biz in an email that the current ability to create a new Spotify account with an email address "was just a small test of the user flow" and added that tests are "fairly standard practice, and allow us to innovate quickly, and to make sure that our users are enjoying the best possible experience." Apparently signing up with an email address rather than mandating Facebook Connect is being considered as a best possible user experience at Spotify.

Spotify Defends Facebook Requirement as 'Simple and Seamless Social Experience'

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced the phrase "real-time serendipity" to describe the continuous flow of listening activity that would flow from music services to users' Facebook news feeds. Music discovery would never be greater and Facebook would change the way musical listening habits are shared and, as a result, how people decide what songs to hear. Facebook put up some great numbers, too: 1.5 billion (involuntary) and 5 billion song shares in the six weeks and four months, respectively, following the f8 conference.

It sounded good in stump speeches, but unchecked, real-time serendipity was always a bit of a pipe dream. It took Spotify all of one week after the Spotify-Facebook integration to add a "private listening" mode so people could opt out of automatically sharing all listening activity to their social networks. Even music lovers have limits to what they share.

The counterweight to real-time serendipity is privacy. Now social networks cater to varying levels of comfort with privacy. Some people allow their personal information and photos to be seen by strangers while other people restrict who can access such information. It's no surprise that some people - especially outside the U.S. where online privacy concerns are higher - would want to restrict their musical profiles and listening histories.

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