Pokemon Go: A Competitive Social Formula For The Music Industry? [George Howard]


Guest post by George Howard

I’ve long believed that in order for any internet or mobile app to accomplish the highest level of good results, it have to be social, entertaining and competitive. I conceived this framework years ago upon finding out about Cross Fit, which is extremely considerably defined by these attributes.

Nevertheless, it was transferring this considering to the digital space that helped me create a framework that I use to this day when vetting goods, services, or tips with respect to establishing/investing in them. In other words, if I can’t rapidly determine that a item passes the “Social, Exciting, and Competitive Test,” I’m not interested.

The SFC Framework

Social just means something that is far more enjoyable when accomplished in groups. This attribute increases the likelihood of the solution addressing network effect problems, and thus shifting the burden of promotion from the brand to the buyers. 

Exciting in this context is defined as anything a single does to combat boredom. The dopamine hit can be a little distraction from tedium (a Facebook FB -1.09% Like) or a massive one particular (VR).

Competitive is not a binary “I win/you lose” dynamic, but rather some element of game mechanic “achievement.” When I originally conceived of the SFC framework, I employed Foursquare Verify Ins as an easy explainer of the “Competitive” prong.

Turntable.Fm and Other Examples of SFC Merchandise

For these who keep in mind, Turntable.fm was a wonderful item that facilitated people coming with each other in a virtual space (social) in order to play the music that they loved (entertaining), and, primarily based on the reaction to this music from others in this room, attain specific achievement rewards – far more impressive avatars, longer DJ sets, and so forth. (competitive).

For these of you who are interested in checking Turntable.fm out now… You can not. Much more on that later. But there are plenty of other examples that are at present in action. LinkedIn LNKD +.08% utilizes “competitive” game mechanics to gently goad folks to finishing their profiles. Guitar Hero and many other video games (those of the MMORPG ilk being particularly good examples) to lesser or greater degrees got the entire “SFC” framework proper. Yelp YELP -.75% and Tinder employ this SFC strategy to great good results in their respective verticals.

Pokémon GO As The Apotheosis of SFC


NEW YORK, NY – JULY 11: Folks exit Nintendo’s flagship retailer, July 11, 2016 in New York City. The achievement of Nintendo’s new smartphone game, Pokemon Go, has sent shares of Nintendo soaring. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Photos)

Nonetheless, it’d been a even though because I’d noticed an implementation of the SFC attributes in a product with the force of execution as I did a week or so ago. It was throughout this time when the complete on SFC Tsunami crashed upon the world in the form of Pokemon Go.

The degree to which Pokémon GO embraces the SFC framework is practically textbook in nature. Not only does it convene men and women through standard on-line methodologies, but it’s truly facilitating offline social interaction as properly. Pokémon GO is quite entertaining in that it is combating boredom to such a degree that virtually anything other than playing Pokémon GO seems to be “boring” to a lot of. With regards to competitors, 1 of the truly ingenious components of Pokémon GO’s game mechanic is that it is achievement based in an egalitarian way. Although there’s an apprehension of entry with respect to a lot of other MMOPRG games, in which new entrants are deterred by feeling that those who have been paying longer will swiftly embarrass/dispense of them, Pokémon GO has facilitated a technique that rewards longer-term players although not delighting/not intimidating new entrants.

In so performing, Pokémon GO has produced a “Customer as Teacher” dynamic in which much more knowledgeable players are reaching extra dopamine blasts by teaching new players, and as a result accelerating the growth trajectory.

The Exclusive Challenges Connected To Music

Even while I’m delighted to watch this articulation of my SFC theory taking more than the world, I’m equally distressed by the truth that – aside from the aforementioned Turntable.fm and Guitar Hero – we actually have not observed a music-associated item actually explode in this manner. Objectively, we must have.

In other words, exactly where has our Pokémon GO for music been, and/or when will our Pokémon GO for music emerge?

Music is innately social, enjoyable and competitive. To be clear with respect to “competitive,” again, this is NOT necessarily in an I win/you shed manner (although, as Name That Tune to American Idol, and every little thing in amongst has shown, music certainly can be traditionally competitive), but rather from the sense that numerous levels of achievement in music – from mastery of an instrument to knowledge about a distinct artist/genre – are so attainable for so numerous.

Sadly, if Turntable.fm is any indication, it may be a whilst before we see a music-related item that attains even a fraction of Pokémon GO’s success…though, as I discuss below, it might be sooner than later.

1 of the causes the founders of Turntable.fm closed down the service was that “the expense of running a music service [was] too high-priced.” At least some of the expenditures the founders are referring to are music licensing expenses.

To be abundantly clear, I am neither saying nor implying that the charges connected with licensing the music is what resulted in Turntable.fm shutting down. Nor am I saying that Turntable.fm or any other service that utilizes music should not compensate the rights holders for the use of the music.

There are usually any quantity of reasons why goods don’t succeed, and far be it from me or any individual else to attempt to simply sum up a product’s failure. In other words, even if Turntable.fm had been in a position to get all the music they wanted for cost-free, they nonetheless could have failed customers could have just grown tired of the service, and so on.

Nevertheless, the truth that in the years since the launch of Turntable.fm, I am tough pressed to point to other examples of music-connected apps that strike this SFC balance (and please leave me examples in the comments, as I’m confident they exist), combined with the reality that Pokemon Go has shown us the way forward with respect to what a effective “SFC” product may look like a clear threshold moment has been reached.

That is, if some music-associated item does not emerge and capture the world’s focus – even if only a fraction of the focus that Pokemon Go – through an artful Social, Enjoyable, and Competitive implementation – that presents a difficulty.

The difficulty that has historically been the bugaboo about innovation in this space is classically summed up as an “Innovator’s Dilemma” issue. That is, the incumbents in any space are pleased to continue serving their existing customers, and are as a result indifferent to any threat from companies…until it’s as well late.

One of the most incredible passages in the new book Chaos Monkeys illustrates this concept by way of the story of how when Facebook outgrew their space, they relocated into new workplace space that had been inhabited by Sun Microsystems. Mark Zuckerberg even insisted that some of the old Sun insignia keep on the walls in order to remind Facebook personnel of how rapidly giants can fall.

But the music sector giants have seemed somewhat far more durable than these in other industries, and many have not (but) fallen.

1 theory around this durability/ability to steer clear of classic Innovator’s Dilemma plights is that these music organization incumbents have benefited from laws and information asymmetries that have enabled them to hold competitors from innovators at bay longer than they would have absent these “tools.” Rightly or wrongly, there are no shortage of Turntable.fm-like examples of organizations who have either gone out of enterprise or are facing potentially insurmountable troubles due to the challenging dynamics associated to the licensing of music.

As such, numerous innovators just bypass the music space totally. As I wrote in an article entitled, “Could Blockchain Save SoundCloud And Investment In The Future Of The Music Business?,” a dynamic has been developed that now deters outside investment into the music space due to high degrees of threat with respect to profit/exits.

My sense, nonetheless, is that we are approaching some degree of breakthrough.

Amongst emerging technologies, which could resolve certain technical/systemic problems with respect to music rights holders, shoppers and entrepreneurs (such as Blockchain Technology), escalating client demand/lack of understanding/acceptance of suboptimal music integration into their world, and extremely clear examples – as evidenced from Pokemon Go’s clear articulation of the SFC Framework – of the way forward, I do think we will begin to see new and fascinating music-connected products that satisfy customers, rightsholders, and entrepreneurs.