I knew something was up when I walked in the house a few months back, and my 17 year-old son and I got into one of those new music discovery conversations. He was telling me about Kaiser Chiefs, and I was trying to remember the song he was talking about ("Ruby"). So, I suggested he surf over to iTunes so that I could hear the 20-second snippet.
Instead, he went to YouTube, and we watched/listened to the entire video/song. He then went on to tell me that he rarely - if ever - discovers music via iTunes anymore. Instead, he turns to YouTube where he can experience the entire song. Sometimes the visuals are lame. Instead of the artist-released video, "citizens" often make up their own videos to the song. But the bottom line is that he has changed his music discovery habits, and I am rapidly catching up with him. When I asked just how extensive the YouTube music inventory is, he told me that "Everything's there."
So, I put it to the test and tried to find three relatively obscure Classic Rock songs - Neil Young's "Cowgirl in the Sand," The Band's "Life is a Carnival," and Springsteen's "Point Blank." Guess what? They were all there and, in each case, there were different versions to choose from.
The simplicity of music discovery has been totally turned upside down by the Internet. Even Internet "stalwarts" (like iTunes) are being usurped by newcomers with perhaps a better idea. Keeping up with the audience tastes has become challenging for radio, and we're going to have to work even harder moving forward to better understand and better serve our listeners.
Our own Tech Polls are designed to do just that, but they're conducted annually, and music discovery reality is moving at a much faster clip. If you doubt me, go to YouTube and type in a favorite title for yourself.