In Conversation With Sonos’ John MacFarlane

I recently had the opportunity to catch up Sonos’s CEO John MacFarlane, the video of our conversation is below.

In the video John and I discuss various key issues facing the digital music market, including:

  • what the next generation of music services will need to deliver
  • The role of experience in music products
  • getting digital music into the living room
  • Facebook’s content dashboard strategy

John is an insightful guy and hopefully this video will give you a sense of his vision.

5 thoughts on “In Conversation With Sonos’ John MacFarlane

  1. A few things I’d like to add…

    1) Music is changing from a consumer industry to a service industry
    2) Crappy headphones and portable speakers are partially responsible for the over-the-top compression I thoroughly, thoroughly hate
    3) Streaming services don’t have all the music ever made; I just searched Sonos for a couple out of print records (thought I might get lucky), a Ravel ballet, Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, and Close to the Edge and none of them were available (this is one of several reasons I don’t use streaming services)

  2. By “Napster Generation” I suspect he is referring to the original Napster (he does actually mention “orginal Napster” around 6′ 00), which was basically a music filesharing service. Based on that model, for all practical purposes, “all the music ever made” was available as long as someone else had a copy and was willing to share it.

    I don’t think anyone would claim that, today, any service offers that. Licence restrictions are but one parameter which prevents this (for instance, some bands refuse to allow their music to be licenced to streaming services) but the combination of streaming services, global radio streaming and local library gives you as close as is practically possible “all the music ever made”.

    I agree with your comments about crappy portable systems but I’m not sure I see the relevance here. Jon pointed out that Sonos doesn’t have any interest in this market.

  3. Catalogue of licensed services (with one exception) will always be smaller than the illegal sector. Yes, indeed they do depend upon someone uploading or making available a given track but as long as there is sufficient scale (as Napster, Kazaa, Pirate Bay etc all did) then the content will be there.

    The one exception is YouTube, which has arguably the biggest digital music library in the world. It is licensed but in a post-fact manner. i.e. YouTube doesn’t have to ingest the catalogue song by song after securing licenses. Instead it has acquired licenses for content already uploaded and effectively for all uploads henceforth (DMCA take down notices aside).

  4. Acknowledged. Meant that more as a side-note :). Missing Ravel, Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, and Yes is more than a bit off though…

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