Spotify’s initial public offering in April 2018 is nothing short of a modern marvel. The company circumvented the traditional process of enlisting an investment bank to drum up investor interest and to ensure liquidity in the early trading on a stock exchange. Spotify was so popular with institutional and retail investors that it didn’t need to pay a bank for a service as ubiquitous as a rock quartet. Now there’s talk of others, such as Slack, following suit with a direct listing of their own. Casting aside the Q4 slump in its shares, there is much to be impressed with in Spotify’s disruption of not only music industry but also the ability of a modern tech company to flout the norms on Wall Street.
Eventually, we might look back on Spotify’s IPO as the pinnacle of digital music—an industry that began with Napster and the iPod, and prioritized making the music industry more portable, transferable, and easier to consume.
If this all sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.
Any baby boomer, hippie, or audiophile will tell you that what is lost in digital music is the heart and soul of the music. To be sure, dust off your old records—or depending on your age, maybe your cool uncle’s records—close your eyes and listen to Lindsey Buckingham plucking his guitar in “Never Going Back Again” on Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours or Ringo drumming in “The End” on The Beatles' Abbey Road. Observe the warmth, the fidelity, the nuance.
Now listen to either of them on Spotify. In a word: Yuck!
For all of the great aspects of digital music, the music itself is a pretty poor interpretation relative to its analog brethren.
One lesson here is that social media has also made it easy for individuals and companies to easily share their ideas in a digital format. In doing so, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have honed some of the same concepts of portability, transferability, and ease of consumption. But something has been lost here too. In blasting our ideas through the firehose that is social media, we’ve lost some of the soul of our communication.
As a digital content platform, Harvest has sought to solve some of these pitfalls in a few ways. For one, we seek to match each user’s experience with their demonstrated interests. For example, if a user has been reading about sovereign credit, we then seek to personalize their news feed with more content on this topic. Additionally, our premium reporting capabilities look at global topics that are trending in popularity on the platform. This seeks to address any writer’s first question: what do people care about? In helping to answer that question, we help investment managers more accurately match their specific value proposition with the things that investors have demonstrated an interest in.
You might call this being analog in a digital world. I suppose that’s not such a bad thing…