OK, I’ve done it: I’ve subscribed to Sirius XM satellite radio. This despite owning hundreds of CDs and gigabytes of ripped and downloaded music, having streaming music available at my command bundled with Time Warner and Roku products and services I’ve already paid for, having a Pandora account that I basically like, and, you know, having access to the Internet, which contains for free (for those willing to dig) every single musical note ever played in the history of man, multiplied a zillion times over.
So here’s the deal. In the course of my one-week free trial, I discovered that despite all that music I already had access to, I actually listen to a lot more music via this Sirius XM/iPhone/docking station three-way marriage than I’ve listened to since I gave up my XM subscription. A lot more, like five times as much. And that music involves a broader variety of genres, and a broader variety of songs, including both songs that awaken my nostalgia and songs I’ve never heard of before. And about half of the background music I’m adding to my media diet is directly crowding out background episodes of reality TV. Good stuff, right?
One of the business facts I’m reminded by all this is that people don’t just pay a premium for innovation in product, they pay a premium for innovation in delivery experience, too, and in packaging of that experience, and especially in the consistency and reliability thereof. It’s worth money just not to have to think — to be able to take for granted that something will just work. Netflix figured that out with DVDs-by-mail, and then figured it out again with streaming, and Apple of course figured it out ages ago and has put it into practice half a dozen times, in a range of sectors that are gradually converging. FedEx figured it out, by taking something (overnight delivery via USPS) that was perceived, rightfully or not, as a dicey proposition and making it 100% trustworthy.
So now, wherever I plop myself down, I dock my phone, I hit the Sirius XM button, I fiddle with the display for just a moment, and within 10 seconds I’m listening to an interesting stream of music. I don’t even think; I just do it. Now that’s the kind of reliability I’d happily pay $12 a month for.