Music Makes Conversation

Music makes conversation happen. Social music is one of my favorite things about the social layer of the internet. If you have my instant messenger names (I have quite a few on various services), you’ll always see what I’m currently listening to streaming as my status. Adium (my favorite multi-message service software for the Mac) and Skype both offer this feature automatically.

Why do I clutter up my status on instant message programs with an ever changing stream of song title and artists I’m currently playing, or clutter my Twitter stream with Blip.FM posts or SoundCloud mobile discovery tweets now and then? Because music is a great way to find new and interesting people. It’s instant common ground, or instant debate – it’s all a matter of taste.

Because you can’t have a “wrong” answer with  music, it opens doors. It helps friends who have your chat name but who may not have contacted you in a while get over the awkward feeling of picking the friendship and conversation back up again buy giving them an opening to reach out by. It helps introverts get to know people and find those they feel more comfortable talking to. It helps clients and consultants or bosses and employees find common ground, and makes working environments more pleasant. It gives you something to joke about with the service rep after you’ve been on hold for ages.

Music is a unifier. A uniter. A driving force. And it is inherently social, more so than any other creative medium – films, comics, books – none of them are quite as suited to social as music, even though many of us love them, too.

It intrigues me that Apple entered the social music fray (though in a clunky, tied to shopping fashion that isn’t at all smooth to use or easy to share, and which makes their Ping feel like work more than play). Should MySpace look out, as folks are saying? In my opinion, not yet – iteration number one of Ping is not a competitor. Apple is very good at learning from mistakes, however, so version 2 may come out swinging – we’ll see.

It disappoints me when folks like Apple or Google don’t get social music (Google broke fluid “now playing” status iTunes feeds via services like Adium in gTalk – very disappointing). In the end though, it leave more room for a wide variety of services, platforms and social sites out there that do get it, and I’m ok with that.

What’s your favorite social music service? How do you share with folks? What’s your favorite type of music? Does music help you work better?