Social Music: Socially-Allowable Sharing?

June 20, 2010

Music, Social Networking

For anyone’s who has read more than one of my blog posts, my next statement won’t be a surprise: I truly love music. I love all kinds of music. And music has always been a social experience for me. And whether you believe that we were created by an all-powerful God or you believe that we were fashioned through fortune and natural selection, rythmn and music have always been a part of the humanity experience.

Music is a means of communicating messages of all kinds.  Music is in commercials. Music is in pageantry. Music is in exaltations of faith. Music is in calm moments of reflection.  And while music can stir emotions even in solitary settings, its most powerful manifestations are found when the composer/performer is communicating emotions to the audience.

And ever since there was “technology” to harness, music has been present. And today is no different. Whether access to music is dampened by concert ticket prices, concert hall construction, the requirements for expensive instruments or even the existence of digital rights management, there are those people who seek to control access to music.  Some control music in order to generate income for themselves.  Some control music in order to control the emotions and the actions of others.

But as the technology wheel spins ever faster, it is increasingly harder to erect frameworks of control.  And it is becoming increasingly easier to scale any such barriers that are erected.  Indeed, music is becoming more plentiful and it is becoming more accessible. AND I LOVE IT EVEN MORE.

So before I wander off into even deeper philosophical weeds, let me get to the point.  In the past few days, I’ve run across new modes of music sharing.

As most folks know, I use many music players. But my favorite players are Songbird and iTunes.  I also use many tagging and metadata tools. And I also use many sharing tools. I have used for years.  And I used to be very active on  I have fiddled and played with iLike (in Facebook) for almost as long.  I’ve used Pandora for over a year.

I buy most of my music via Amazon.  And now that I use Songbird more frequently, I’ve bought a few songs via 7Digital.  Nevertheless, I’ve been known to purchase a few tracks from the iTunes music store.  And now my youngest daughter just got me turned on to a new streaming source (i.e., Grooveshark).

So here are my big questions:

  • What is Facebook planning to do with music?
  • Is iLike the Facebook music play or is Facebook going to do something else?
  • Is Facebook’s music approach going to be just another means of using me as a market data point or as a sales target?
  • Just how much music sharing is enough? [This one is a tough thing to answer as the answer varies from person to person.]  But how much musical “attention” data is too much?
  • How are new sharing tools (e.g., Grooveshark) going to monetize their services?

And if those aren’t enough questions to ponder, I have a few more question for my brothers and sisters in Christ:

  • How will the Christian community exploit all this new technology?
  • How can we demonstrate a moral context for file sharing.
  • And how can we ensure that the music we create and share affirms the Gospel message?

We really need to remember musicians like Keith Green.  He had the world as his musical oyster – so to speak. But he gave up massive financial gain when he realized that the gifts and talents he could use to generate money were not given to him for that purpose.  God gave him the words and the music as a means of communicating the Gospel. Therefore, he turned his back on “success” and “fame” and chose the life of a prophet and a pastor. May God bless us with men who share Keith’s heart for the world – and his wisdom for the role of music in that world.


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