Will Google's New Music Service Affect Your Business? Surprise: It Might.

When I first moved to Nashville in February of 2003, I was in pursuit of a dream: I wanted to develop my songwriting and write hits. It did not escape my notice that the industry was changing, even then, and that the distribution models that had ensured songwriter royalties were being disrupted, so that I might not have the opportunity to make money at it for very long.

However, I also came here with a background in e-commerce and software project management, as well as skills in various aspects of the Web, both broad and deep. I knew that would be my stable source of income, but I didn’t realize it would become more of a passion for me than songwriting, and that I would eventually start a company to further the web capabilities around me. Yet here we are.

So it still comes as a bit of a surprise when I find that my long-held passions for music and for online user experiences come together in a new way. Yesterday that happened when the news broke around Google’s forthcoming music service. I received a call from a friend at The Tennessean asking for input, and the more I got to thinking about it, the more interesting the Google story seemed to me.

Her article appears in this morning’s paper, and I’m quoted at the end of the piece:

Kate O’Neill, founder and CEO of Nashville-based [meta]marketer, said it’s another reason for users to stay on Google and not leave it for other sites.

“What Google is smartly capitalizing on is this desire for global access that people have,” she said. “That’s what users really want: continuous access to whatever they want, whenever they want it.”

What I think is even more interesting, from the standpoint of a meta-marketer, is the way this further positions Google as the champion of user experience. Structured semantic search results are going to continue to emerge, and they will put relevant answers in the path of the searcher, not just options for a possible destination.

If your business has historically provided stock quotes, then you already experienced this when Google (and other engines) put stock quotes at the top of search results for a ticker symbol.

If you’re a music content provider, you’re about to experience this.

If your business hasn’t been affected yet, it probably will soon.

It’s important to know what your strategy is for providing a relevant experience beyond the search results page. What value does your site add after the searcher’s questions are answered? What experience can you provide that Google can’t or won’t replicate?

Content has very often been said to be king, but the truth is experience is king. Content is only part of the overall experience, and only part of a typical site’s value proposition. It’s an important part, to be sure, and in the landscape of structured semantic search results pages, deeper, richer content will probably win. But it’s going to take planning and careful consideration of the overall user experience and of measurable success factors to be sure you’re keeping up.

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One Comment

  1. Chris Riesgo
    Posted October 22, 2009 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Not only will Google’s new music service likely affect your business, but Google as an entire entity may.

    As Kate expertly pointed out, experience is king. From Google’s new music service to their anticipated Chrome OS due out late next year, Google has slowly been positioning themselves to provide web and mobile consumers with some of the best tools and services available. The new Android 2.0 mobile OS is due to release later this month which will provide some long-awaited true competition for Apple’s iPhone. With such a suite of tools, imagine seamless interaction between your mobile device, your personal computer, and your online presence all through one provider. I think that in today’s web and mobile economy, it will be increasingly critical for businesses to find ways to be agile enough to utilize some of these tools without shifting away from their key focus.

    Now, to think that Google will be the end-all, be-all to our computing experience is naive, but they’ve built a model that may provide some opportunities and challenges to the competition. I’m looking forward to seeing the technology unfold over the next 2 years.