Spotify and Klout: fungible influence

Popular music streaming service Spotify has just launched in the US. For some background see the Ars Technica story.

One of the interesting aspects of the launch was the tie-in with Klout. Klout is one of several services which provide analytics around social media activity. It aims to be the 'standard for influence', tracking social media impact. I have spoken about Klout before (Analysing influence .. the personal reputational hamsterwheel). The business model includes the matching of 'influencers' in a particular area with providers of products and services relevant to that area. The providers may provide the influencers with 'perks' (upgrades, samples, etc) which positively influence their tweeting.

The 'perk' in the case of Spotify was an early free invite, and if the 'influencer' gets 5 additional people to sign up (see here for a link to my invite), then he or she gets a free pass to the premium Spotify service. Apparently, the offer was popular, or popular enough to cause Klout to go down for a while (according to Techcrunch).

Klout CEO Joe Fernandez says that Klout has partnered with Spotify to offer free invites to those Klout users who have hight scores in topics relevant to music/entertainment. We don't know the exact number of invites, but Fernandez says Klout is working with Spotify to scale the invitations further. [Techcrunch]

If my experience of the last few days is typical, the interest in Spotify seems to be driving new members to Klout as much as the other way around. I haven't seen discussion of what has happened to the 'influence' threshold.

While there is debate about what exactly Klout measures, some concern about where this model leads, and while it is still early days, I think that this more 'organic' approach to promotion is interesting. As is a service based on the fungibility of influence.

Klout may or may not be successful, but this is is another example of how social and algorithmic approaches are changing our communications and media landscape. It is also a rather literal example of those 'hidden persuaders'.

(Slightly edited for style 7/25/2011.)

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