What iPods can tell us

Stephen Baker

What conclusions can you draw from me based on the 3,000 songs on my iPod? No doubt marketers have thought about this treasure trove of tastes, moods and inclinations. But there is (at least) one vital variable to the list: How many times we listen to songs. A marketer with access to this data on my list would find that I listen lots to certain songs by the Band, Luna, Late to the Sky by Jackson Browne, and a Spanish singer I can't get enough of named Jarabe de Palo. But there are hundreds and hundreds of songs I haven't listened to even once, including lots of opera and jazz.

From this, I think, a marketer can gauge the listeners' true taste. Call it a musical id. It's a lot lower brow than we'd readily admit. Then there's the stuff that we would like to listen, in theory, or think we should. But we don't get around to it. That's our musical superego, our aspirational tastes. The trick, then, is to package products that deliver our id to us, but wrap it in superego so that we feel cool when we buy it.

(Sorry I've been off the blog. I'm in Chicago, reporting at Accenture and elsewhere, and I have this miserable crick in my neck. Can't turn it, even when crossing the street. Remember that if you learn that I've been scraped off State Street or Wacker Drive.)

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