Maybe it’s not that noticeable to most people, but it seems to stick out like a sore thumb that Yahoo doesn’t have a music link on their front page next to movies and sports.
You can stumble around Yahoo and find Yahoo Music which offers a blurred hybrid of their OMG site and generic music keyword related articles. So why doesn’t Yahoo list their music site on the front page even though there’s little doubt that their music page gets substantially more traffic than most sites striving to cater to their music minded audience?
It’s probably because it’s a static reminder of the past. Yahoo and music have a strained relationship at best. For example, one of the few original blogs, ‘Early Edition’, hasn’t been updated since September of 2010. Other tabs on the site like iheartradio and Spotify mostly serve as a pass-through to other destinations. There is just very little for this, still, giant company to brag about when it comes to music and music coverage.
Yahoo Music used to mean something in the industry, the place people first thought of to view music videos and listen to songs on their music service, but that time is only a distant memory in the way MySpace seems like it was from another lifetime.
Here’s what I’d like to see Yahoo do with their prominent online space to further the music industry rather than contribute to the cruft of it.
What if Yahoo was to do something different than others were doing and make a meaningful impact? If Yahoo acquired someone like NoiseTrade.com – a site that helps artists exchange their music for fan’s contact info (email address) – they would instantly create a music discovery destination while driving the limits of a new digital industry. The main idea behind NoiseTrade is that an email address and vague location (zip code) is more valuable in the long run, helping artists contact relevant and interested fans, than a few dollars from an anonymous listener does in the short term. Based on how NoiseTrade easily found an audience of artists (and labels) that believe in using recorded music to help promote shows and merchandise sales, this type of endeavor could quickly scale up to Yahoo’s size.
NoiseTrade has built a music community around good will, something that’s pretty rare today. Maybe that’s why even though all the music on the site is available for free, the tips that fans voluntarily leave can become fairly substantial to an artist’s bottom line. Not to mention the site has always been profitable and continues to grow.
Since AOL’s recent shuttering of properties like Spinner, it would seem a bit foolish for Yahoo to go down the well worn path of typical music blogs. It would also seem that Yahoo’s time to offer a full (modern) music service has passed with plenty of competitors covering most aspects.
Now that Yahoo has officially acquired Tumblr and continues to rebuild from a dated company into current and future relevance there’s no reason music shouldn’t be apart of their plan. Being apart of the future means doing something new, rather than simply tweaking the colors of a product everyone else is already selling. Whether that looks like NoiseTrade or something new like Twitter did to harvest people’s music interest from their tweets, Yahoo desperately needs to reinvigorate their music offering before any influence is lost.
Disclaimer: I do occasionally contribute artist interviews to NoiseTrade’s blog, but don’t have any financial stake in the company.