With a full-time job and two young children, these days I don’t have much time to seek out new artists. But discovering new music remains a very powerful experience. Streaming services know this, and since most have very similar pricing and catalogs, curation has emerged as one of the most important areas of differentiation between them. With millions of tracks available to a subscriber of Spotify, Rdio, or any other major service — more than you could finish in a lifetime — the battleground is shifting from access to curation.
Every major streaming service touts its ability to learn your taste and recommend the right song at the right time. And they all use a mix of human curators and computer algorithms to target their suggestions. But increasingly, there is a divide in the industry over which half of that equation should lead and which half should follow.