This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

#DigitalSkeptic: Human DJs Find Their Place Deep in Age of iTunes

Almost immediately The 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music jumped to the upper ends of the iTunes classical download list. And it has stayed there essentially ever since.

"By using humans to create the best collection of music, we provided the best experience," he said. "That's the secret."

Spotify gets 'Classify'-ed
Lagerlof's next hot spot for humans turned out to be Spotify, which went large in his native Sweden several years ago. In 2012, as the subscription service began growing dramatically, he realized that the sheer size of the Spotify library made it hard for users to find the songs the loved. So when the platform opened up its development to third parties, Lagerlof created Classify, an app that enables his human playlist curators to comb through Spotify's archives and create top-quality lists that drive usage. He says his 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music list boasts 90,000 subscribers on the service.

"We have playlists for blues, for jazz, we have somebody in Sun Studios," he explained. "And just like in the vinyl and CD business, we take a percentage of the fees Spotify pays to labels and artists.

Must Read: Senate Bill Mandates Free Annual Credit Scores

"It's the same business we've always been in, but updated for digital music."

Some new-media nonsense
All these years in the digital music industry have rubbed off on the otherwise sensible Lagerlof. Language issues aside, he utterly lost me when I tried to get him to explain how selling 50 songs for $10 was not a business disaster compared with selling 10 for the same amount.

"It's the same revenue we get for 10 or for 50 songs. The same money flows out to the labels and artists. So everybody is a winner in the deal," was the nonsensical quote I promised him I would write down and print. So there it is.

And there remains the deep question of whether X5's model has legs here in the United States, where 15 years of digital-age abuse has rendered music essentially worthless. Spotify's premium non-ad-supported product can fetch only $10 a month here, as opposed to the roughly $15 per month it can charge in Sweden, meaning there is 30% less revenue for X5 to split with artists and labels -- and probably just that much more risk in making money here.

But still, it is hard not to be impressed by this one man casually doing what thousands of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs promised us all was impossible: Finding a place for warm-blooded humans in an otherwise cold-blooded digital world.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.
2 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
AAPL $93.74 0.00%
FB $117.58 0.00%
GOOG $693.01 0.00%
TSLA $240.76 0.00%
YHOO $36.60 0.00%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,773.64 -57.12 -0.32%
S&P 500 2,065.30 -10.51 -0.51%
NASDAQ 4,775.3580 -29.9330 -0.62%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs