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Berkman Center and Gartner to Release Report Documenting Importance of Playlists to Music Industry

Cambridge, MA - The Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Gartner will release an industry report Tuesday, December 13, documenting the extent of peoples’ use of music playlists and how such use may influence future business models.

Drawing from an early-adopter survey conducted through Gartner, report co-authors Derek Slater, a Harvard senior and Berkman student fellow, and Mike McGuire, Gartner’s Research Director, find that consumer-to-consumer recommendation tools, like playlists, enable consumers to actively present their individual tastes to each other and are becoming increasingly common.  According to survey results, nearly 20 percent of online music listeners reported listening to music via playlists at least five days a week and more than 25 percent of online music listeners listened to music via playlists 1-4 days a week.

Early-adopters’ current use of recommendation tools drives Slater and McGuire to predict that by 2010 twenty-five percent of online music store transactions will be driven directly from consumer-to-consumer taste-sharing applications, such as playlist publishing and ranking tools either built into online music stores or external sites.

“The struggle over music file sharing has unfortunately turned ‘sharing’ into a bad word,” says Derek Slater. “Whatever one thinks of illegal downloading, much can be gained from giving music fans a chance to share their musical tastes in a variety of ways.”

Slater and McGuire also cite the cultural benefits of recommendation tools.  Survey results reveal that people who use playlists are exposed to a greater diversity of music, sometimes driving demand for music in back catalogues. Playlists also introduce music fans with similar tastes to one another, over time building and reinforcing an online community.

To obtain a copy of the embargoed report or to schedule interviews with the report’s co-authors, please contact Amanda Michel at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society: (617) 495-5236 / amichel@cyber.harvard.edu.

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