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Network sites such as Spotify and YouTube have become popular, and provide new tools that are, in urban settings, available (virtually) to everyone and for free.

Social Music Services in Teenage Life – A Case Study Sari Komulainen Minna Karukka Nokia Oyj. Nokia Research Center Oulu, Finland Oulu, Finland [email protected] [email protected]


Jonna Häkkilä Nokia Research Center Oulu, Finland [email protected]

presence to strengthen one’s social image and circle (Seshagiri, 2009; Voida et al., 2005), but it is also a tool to emphasize individualism, as found in the study amongst New York study participants (Nettamo et al., 2006). Personal choice of music is strongly associated with current state of mind (Liu et al., 2008) and this information can be shared to others e.g. via IM applications. Listening music while mobile can also used for ‘cocooning’ in public - to create a private space in a crowded environment, and to signal that one is reluctant to be involved in any social interaction (Nettamo et al., 2006).

The landscape for discovering and sharing music is changing due to the rise of social media and mobile devices with increasing amount of features. This paper looks at the omnipresence of music and the social perspective of online music services among the youth, and describes a survey-based case study of 44 Finnish. The findings reveal that social media facilitates important aspects that engage the users, such as recommendations, large selections, and free content, but also that traditional media, e.g. FM radio has still a strong role in the omnipresence use of music.

The role of friends in influencing content preference in the social networks has been reported in studies among Indian college students (Seshagiri, 2009) and Hong Kong mobile music (Nettamo et al., 2006). Bentley et al. (2006) provide an overview of photo and music usage, and found similarities in the ways the content was (socially) used for telling ‘the story of one’s life’. The content was also strongly linked to the context of events when it had been played.

Author Keywords

Music, mobile phones, social music, sharing. ACM Classification Keywords

H5.m. Information interfaces and presentation (e.g., HCI): Miscellaneous. INTRODUCTION

Today, music players are one of the integral features of the so-called smart phones. The ways to acquire and share music have emerged radically during the last decade, and, similarly as with many other fields, the role of Internet and social media has become an important part of the trend. Network sites such as Spotify and YouTube have become popular, and provide new tools that are, in urban settings, available (virtually) to everyone and for free. In this paper, we look at the music retrieval, sharing and consumption related to mobile phones, concentrating especially on the social side of the phenomenon. As mobile phones have become omnipresent everyday life tools and their multimedia capabilities have progressed rapidly, it is relevant to investigate also the social music phenomenon in respect to understand the consumer culture, needs and to give background knowledge for the future designers.

Sharing of music relates often to the social bonds. Bentley et al. (2006) report, how the sharing of music (and photos) was often part of a longer, on-going conversation between recipient and sender, continuing throughout long time period and different media. Ebare (2005) describes how music sharing indicates a group identity, and Voida et al. (2005) take this theme further by revealing that groups with disparate musical taste can also form strong group identities. In this paper, we wanted to examine the importance and the roles of the social aspect in sharing and discovering new music when using online music services. We present our survey-based research on the practices with digital music among Finnish teenagers. Based on the study we present a set of suggestions associated to sharing and finding new music in mobile environment from the user’s point of view.

Earlier research on music has exposed that mobile music is a central phenomenon in music consumption, and its purposes and behavioural social phenomena linked with it are versatile. Music is used for maintaining an online


The study was conducted as a structured questionnaire, in April 2010 during a national vocational skills event gathering young students around Finland – i.e. in a country with very high broadband and mobile phone penetrations, and thus very easy access to Internet-based services (Statistics Finland, 2008). In total, 44 Finnish users participated in the study and they were recruited on

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Music Services

the spot. The gender division was even: 22 were female and 22 male. The participants were 16-20 year-olds, the majority (38/44) of them being 16-17 year-olds.

Almost every respondent (42/44) said they used online music services, YouTube (85%, 36/42), Spotify (48%, 20/42) and iTunes (31%, 13/42) dominating the use. More detailed use of the services in daily basis is illustrated in figure 2. When taking a closer look at these three most used services the following characteristics became quite evident: • the majority of respondents concentrated on listening music on a computer daily or few times a week • no great differences in the actual use between the services were found • relatively little is done with mobile phones compared to computers

The most important factor in selecting the participants was their music service usage and music sharing, which were the focus of a brief interview. After the interview, participants were asked to fill in an anonymous questionnaire with background information. The 13 questions were mostly multiple choice questions including more detailed inquiries. Participants were encouraged to choose as many suitable options as possible. The questionnaire covered versatile aspects on frequency and ways of listening, sharing and discovering music, as well as the social use of music services. FINDINGS Omnipresence of Music

The intensity and variety of ways that music was present in participants’ life was obvious, and it was a very integral part of their lives. Users were asked to evaluate the importance music and sharing had in their lives, their listening context and the discovery of new music. All respondents stated that they listened to music every day and owned different devices. Time they dedicated to music varied between 1-10 hours, the average being c. 4,5 hours. In general, it can be summarized that these users • discovered and listened to new music quite often • listened music slightly more alone than together with friends • considered sharing music fairly important for them.

Figure 2. Use of Music Services

Even tough there were no major differences between the use of services, Spotify and iTunes users made more playlists in computer environment than YouTube users. Also, the use of Spotify and iTunes concentrated on daily use while YouTube carried more additional weekly and monthly use. Moreover, users seemed to appreciate the fact that music service has as vast a music library as possible, as one user pointed out ‘…it’s important that almost all music is available in the net, because it’s such a drag to go to a record store. Also, the fact that you are supposed to buy the entire CD just because it happens to contain two good songs is a serious minus for the record stores.’ (Participant #31, male, 17 yrs).

The participants claimed they listened music as individual songs more than in any other form (93%, 41/44). Additional ways of consuming music were playlists (64%, 28/44), albums (55%, 24/44) and ‘Random/Shuffle all’ function (55%, 24/44). The most important devices used as the means to listen to music were MP3 player (93% 41/44), mobile phone (89%, 39/44), FM radio (77%, 34/44), laptop (68%, 30/44), desktop (55%, 24/44) and CD player (32%, 14/44). It is worth noting that 84% (37/44) used at least three different devices to listen to music. Furthermore, locations where music was listened were manifold, see figure 1. The majority of respondents (39/44) stated that they listened music in more than five different locations on weekly basis.

Here it should be noted that when dealing with music services users mentioned how important free of charge music content is for them. Similar findings were discovered by Seshagiri (2009), or as one user put it:‘…Everyone can share their music and other users are able to download songs for free to their computers and mobile phones.’ (Participant #11, female, 18 yrs) Sharing Music

All respondents stated that they shared music in some form or another (via chat, Bluetooth and Facebook) - 84% (37/44) sharing music files and 61% (27/44) links, 44% (17/44) of respondents doing both. However, when closely inspecting sharing songs and playlists inside the mainly used music services (YouTube, Spotify and iTunes), it becomes clear that daily sharing usage is very low: only 3 YouTube and iTunes users shared music either in computer or mobile context.

Figure 1. Locations for listening to the music.


The respondents were asked to further describe how they shared music in computer and mobile environments. The responses (n=36) indicated that there seems to be three main use characteristics: • individual songs are shared most frequently regardless of the means • mobile phone is mainly used for sharing individual songs to others • sharing happens most often between two persons or to a limited group

forums, blogs and email were also used for this purpose by some participants.

Sharing music files

The online music services and stores the respondents (n=14) mentioned as being used in discovering new music were Nokia Music Store, mikseri.net, Spotify, YouTube, MySpace, Pirate Bay and isoHunt. Respondents stated that they took advantage of few internal features within these services and stores. Features the respondents most often listed were reviews, recommendations and search engine. Also, it became evident that in general this particular group appreciated a large music content library for their seeking actions.

When taking a closer look at the methods used in discovering new music via traditional media, it became apparent that there were three main methods: movies, TV and FM radio. The majority of respondents, 90% (35/39), discovered new music from movies, while 77% (30/39) found new music from television, and 69% (27/39) from FM radio. Magazines, celebrities and physical record stores played a minor role in retrieving new music.

84% (31/37) of those who shared files shared them to limited groups e.g. family and friends while 32% (12/37) shared files publicly, ‘to all’. According to responses there were two preferred methods when sharing music files to a limited group: via Bluetooth connection from device to device (77%, 24/31) and via chat (64,5%, 20/31). Other methods, such as email, were used significantly less. It is worth pointing out that 35% (11/31) relied on one method alone when sharing files, none of the methods dominating here. Similarly, no one method was prevailing among 12 respondents who shared music files publicly. They shared files to online forums (5/12), to online communities (4/12), such as Google Buzz and last.fm, and via other methods (5/12), such as chat.

Respondents discovered new music from other sources, too. Namely from websites and online forums, online communities and services and blogs. Websites and online forums the respondents mentioned consisted of both global (YouTube, Facebook and last.fm) and local (www.basso.fi, mikseri.net, NRJ and Voice) names. The situation was similar in online communities and services. The respondents listed popular global services (Facebook, YouTube and last.fm) and a local one (Levykauppa Äx). The blogs used to discovering new music were all local and dealing with music and fashion.

Sharing music links

70% (19/27) of those who shared music links, shared them to limited groups while 30% (8/27) shared them publicly. According to the respondents one method was clearly preferred when sharing music links to limited groups: 68% (13/19) used chat while other methods lagged behind significantly. The second most preferred method was sharing links to Facebook, 32% (6/19) used it while SMS and email were used by only three respondents. It should be noted that only 3 users stated they shared music links in more ways than one.

The respondents were also asked to name their most important source for finding new music (n=39). The answers varied quite a bit. According to the responses, FM radio emerged as the most important source which was quite surprising. Interestingly, a gender difference appeared here – 13 girls stated that FM radio was the most important source while only 1 boy said the same i.e. boys’ answers were more evenly spread among the different sources. Friends (13) and Internet (11) were closely following as second and third most important sources. YouTube and Spotify were also mentioned, in addition to other sources.

No particular sharing method was prevailing among the 8 respondents who shared music links publicly. They shared links to online forums (2/8), to online communities (2/8), such as Google Buzz and last.fm, to blogs (2/8), and via other methods and to other locations (4/8), such as chat, Spotify and Facebook.


Discovering New Music

When reading this it should be kept in mind that the study presents the opinions and behaviour of a relatively small and homogenous group. However, they can be taken as showcasing the currently existing main usage trends among 16-17 year-olds in Finland.

Respondents used several methods in order to discover new music, but the top two were quite definite: friends and traditional media (movies, TV and radio). Almost all (98%, 42/43), found new music via friends. Quite surprisingly, traditional media was named as the second most often used (91%, 39/43) way overtaking online websites (42%, 18/43), communities (35%, 15/43) and music services/stores (33%, 14/43) by fairly large margin.

In this study, MP3 players and mobile phones were the most used means in listening music. Also, music was consumed as a part of daily routines and in various locations. These findings are aligned with Seshagiri’s study among Indian college students (Seshagiri, 2009). Thus, it could be said that online music services should provide access to music content from multiple locations and devices. Moreover, it was noticed that even though over half of the participants listened music as playlists,

When asked to further describe the different methods used in discovering new music via friends, it became evident that there were two main methods: face-to-face and via chat. Face-to-face discovery was the most common (86%, 38/42) while discovery via chatting was the second most used method (52%, 23/42). SMS, online 3

interestingly the behavior was not apparent in online music service use. This could be explained by interoperability and access issues.

• • •

This study points out that it was typical to rely on just one sharing method, Bluetooth connection in mobile context and chat in computer context, the users had been accustomed to. This contradicts Bernstein’s and Seshagiri’s previous findings where email or CD disks were the dominant sharing media (Bernstein et al., 2010; Seshagiri, 2009). Furthermore, about one third of our study participants shared music files and links publicly - a finding that has not been described in earlier studies. It should be mentioned here that some answers suggest that sharing files and links seem to be merging together some participants said that they were sharing files when in fact they actually shared links. This could be taken as an indication that the difference between sharing files and links is becoming insignificant – the line is blurring, and users just ‘Share’.

• •

keep user up to date with latest new music: provide latest information on artists and events provide content free of charge provide a large music library/content provide easy and fast access to content from various locations and with multiple devices e.g. using personal playlists provide recommendations based on user’s music usage and his/hers close social circle enable easy and fast way to share music (especially multiple songs) and select people to whom users recommend music to

We acknowledge that our study is limited by the sample and method, and as future work, we aim to deepen our research on these aspects. Also, we are planning to take a closer look at the cultural differences, public sharing and the ways an online music service is being utilized socially. However, we believe that our results provide information on the current social music practices which can be used in design work, and to increase the usage of these services in mobile context.

According to this study, the role of traditional devices/means is still strong when listening and discovering music. TV, movies and FM radio appeared to be in a more significant role than online music services. Similar results were detected in Mulligan’s (2009) study where radio was the main music discovery tool for consumers, even for youth. The reasons for the continued preference for FM radio, TV and movies might be that these media offer youth the latest music-related content, in addition to artists, videos and news. Furthermore, they are easy to access and free of change, which are very important for teens. This is why similar behaviour should be enabled in online music services and stores in both mobile and computer environments.


Bentley F., Metcalf, C., Harboe, G. Personal vs. Commercial Content: The Similarities Between Consumer Use of Photos and Music. In Proc. CHI 2006, ACM Press (2006), 667-676 Bernstein, M., Marcus, A., Karger, D., Miller, R. Enhancing directed Content Sharing on the Web. In Proc. CHI 2010, ACM Press (2010), 971-980 Ebare, S. Digital Music and Subculture: Sharing files, sharing styles. First Monday, Special Issues # 1: Music and the Internet, (2005). Available at: http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/ fm/article/view/1459/1374

YouTube was the most popular music service destination in this study which supports previous studies, e.g. Mulligan (2009) who also describes reasons for YouTube’s popularity - i.e. the numerous social features, such as profile pages, comments, user uploads, and collaborative filtering. He also reports that free music is a key pull for social music destinations. This supports our study findings which indicate that sharing and discovering new music free of charge is important. According to our study, other important characteristics in music services were internal reviews, and making and receiving recommendations from friends. However, it became evident that face-to-face recommendations are still the most valued and they were often talked about e.g. via chat.

Liu, K, Reimer R. A.: Social playlist: enabling touch points and enriching ongoing relationships through collaborative mobile music listening. In Proc. MobileHCI 2008, ACM Press (2008), 403-406 Mulligan, M. Monetizing Social Music, Choosing the Right Product and Services Strategy. Forrester Research, (2009). Available at: http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/monetizing_soci al_music/q/id/53740/t/2 Nettamo, E., Nirhamo, M., Häkkilä, J. A Cross-Cultural Study of Mobile Music – Retrieval, Management and Consumption. In Proc. OZCHI 2006, ACM Press (2006), 87-94.

All in all, the findings presented in this paper indicate that the current social aspects of music services are not yet as widely used as traditional one-to-one interaction related to music, but most probably a growing trend at the near future.

Seshagiri, S. Content Consumption and Exchange Among College Students: A Case Study from India. In Proc. MUM 2009, ACM Press (2009), 1-9. Statistics Finland. Use of information and communications technology. (2008). Available at: http://www.tilastokeskus.fi/til/sutivi/index_en.html


According to the findings of this study, the current most important characteristics to be emphasized in online music services are:

Voida, A., Grinter, R. E., Duchenaeaut, N., Edwards, W., K., Newman, M. W. Listening In: Practices Surrounding iTunes Music Sharing. In Proc. CHI 2005, ACM Press (2005), 191-200 4