Soon music will listen back to you


When is the last time that you’ve taken the time to listen to an entire album?

Probably a very long time ago...

The overall culture of music consumption has shifted because of technology. There is an overwhelming supply of music combined with unlimited and instant access to every track you can imagine. Because of this, the attention span to listen to an entire album has disappeared. Currently we consume music more on a per track basis and in the form of curated playlists, which are often constructed by smart algorithms. Our forecast is that the next step will be towards a future where the individual tracks themselves will become adaptive to the listener.

From linear music to responsive music that adapts to its listener

Now for the next innovation, (after algorithmically-curated-single-track-music-consumption), we will have to take a closer look at the way we consume single tracks now and potentially in the future.

Most music that we listen to is linear. Linear music basically means music that has a beginning, a development and an ending that sound the same every time that you hear it. Maybe you’ve never thought about it, but this is not the only way that music can be experienced. Because of modern technology it is also possible that the beginning, development and ending of a track can be adaptive, to whatever input you feed the system.

An adaptive music piece, may sound different every time it is played back based on changes of the input. The input can be anything. In computer games it is the decisions the player makes, but you could also use facial tracking for emotions as input parameter or biosensors to match the music to a person’s biorhythms. The aim of adaptive music is to tailor the music to the unique experience of the listener, in order to enhance the emotional experience.

Forecast on the future of music consumption - adaptive music tracks

The following innovations could well be a prelude to what may come next in the way we consume music: adaptive music, big data stats on listening behavior from streaming platforms, AI composition systems that get better and better every day. More and more stats about who we are, how we feel and what we do is known online. This can be used by AI music systems to adapt their output to.

A future where music empathetically listens and responds to you

We might live in a future where your favorite track sounds slightly different depending on when you listen, how you feel at that moment and what you’re doing at that moment. Maybe even the whole concept of a one time recording will sound like something out of the prehistoric era. Music consumption will be a much more fluid experience. Empathetic and adaptive.

How can this upcoming innovation be relevant for you in a branding or advertising context?

One of the things that can be interesting for advertising is to create an ad, with multiple variations of the same music track whereby the musical preference or the mood of a viewer determines the version of the track that’s heard. Creating a much better musical and emotional fit with the viewer thus enhancing the effectivity and emotional impact of the ad.

5 Key takeaways of this article:

  • The album is dead, our listening behaviour has transformed to listen to single tracks
  • Users of streaming platforms felt lost in the immense supply, music curation was becoming one of the most important things for music streaming platforms
  • Personalization of music content is done with the aid of machine learning and cultural context insights
  • In the (near) future we will go from linear music to adaptive music, tracks that will be personalized and slightly different each time someone listens to it
  • Our own NS Glow train jam project is a great example of a first step towards adaptive music, read more here

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