04/07

Sirius XM’s Take on Personalization

Personalization is a rainbow extending all the way from “lowest common denominator” to “all mine.” The former is what you get on the radio while the latter is what you find in the iTunes store.

SXM’s version of personalization, which appeared in the iTunes store this past weekend, is closer to the former than the latter, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Want to skip songs or create your own custom channels? Sorry, Charlie. This isn’t the place for you (assuming you’re listening “live,” whatever that means) – but then you knew that already.

But if you have a favorite Sirius XM channel or two and want to tweak those channels this way or that, your dreams have officially come true.

For example, the Coffee House channel allows users to turn the dial from “Depth” to “Familiar,” from “Older” to “More Recent,” and from “Coffee Covers” to “Originals.”

The tweaks are different depending on what the channel is, which makes sense.

For the “40′s on 4″ channel, it’s “Supporting Acts/Headliners,” “Vocals/Instrumentals,” “and “Slower/Faster.”

For “Hair Nation,” it’s “Club Acts/Arena Acts,” “Lighter Songs/Amp Shakers,” and the comparatively blandly titled “Depth/More Hits.”

This is flavoring – spice – as personalization, and for a large swath of Sirius XM subscribers – folks who are largely content to let SXM make the choices, this is more than sufficient.

Indeed, you can be “personal-ish” and still be “personal.”

It’s not all about custom channels and skipping songs.

And that’s the key point. Personalization has always been about making products and services more personal in every way, not simply picking your own songs.

Want the content you want when you want it on demand? That’s personalization.

Want the website to look different when you sign in? That’s personalization.

Want the traffic updates from your favorite N/T station to be sent to you via TXT? That’s personalization.

Want the ability to nudge a mix one way or another without having to “work” to skip or ban or add songs? That’s personalization.

Want commercials that relate to who you are and what you want? That’s personalization.

I doubt the new SXM function will be widely used, but that’s not the point. It’s a benefit at the margin.

Plus, use it once and you can ignore the sliders forever. What better way to make dozens of music channels into thousands – without copycatting Pandora and without creating an ever-more confusing array of barely distinguishable choices that are impossible to communicate?

It’s not “more channels” – it’s fewer channels that do more.

Nicely done.

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