Music Discovery is Overrated
Last week Seth Godin penned a piece titled “Discovery Fatigue.”
In it he argued that a little bit of discovery goes a long way, and the zeal to discover at the beginning of something wanes as time and life go on.
Seth offers three reasons for this:
First, once you’re busy with what you’ve got, it diminishes the desire to get more. Second, discovery is exhausting. Putting on a new pair of glasses, seeing the world or hearing the world or understanding the world in a new way is a lot more work than merely cruising through a typical day. And third, infinity is daunting. A birdwatcher might be inspired to keep seeking out new birds, because she knows she’s almost got them all. But the infinity of choice that the connection economy brings with it is enough to push some people to artificially limit all that input.
So, in other words, a little bit of new is enough new, the work to explore beyond that is rarely perceived as worth the effort, and an infinity of choices is paralyzing, resulting very often in no choosing at all.
More than that, however, “discovery” is more attractive in theory than in reality.
If discovery were in fact more potent than familiarity, then why is the Avengers sequel breaking records at the box office? Indeed, why is Hollywood in the franchise-only business nowadays?
If discovery were more potent than familiarity, then why do most music fans consider “new songs” to be ones that have been on Hit Radio now for months already?
If discovery were more potent than familiarity, then Malcolm Gladwell wouldn’t have his own display in many bookstores, stocked with different titles sporting almost exactly the same cover.
If discovery were more potent than familiarity, then TV and movie and music stars wouldn’t need to exist.
If discovery were more potent than familiarity, then Seinfeld wouldn’t be worth almost a million dollars per episode to Hulu almost twenty years after it went off the air.
People want great, not necessarily new. And people want great to be familiar and easy.
If that doesn’t pose a hypothetical opportunity to the familiar and easy radio industry, then I don’t know what does.
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