business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Variety reported yesterday that "Spotify is adding buzzy music game Heardle to its arsenal — acquiring the daily name-that-tune website patterned on the massively popular Wordle game.  Financial terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed."

In Heardle, Variety explains, "players try to guess a song as quickly as possible based on its opening notes; they get six tries, getting a few more seconds of music with each attempt. Like Wordle, Heardle then lets users share their results for bragging rights … the audio-streaming giant is making changes to slipstream it into the Spotify business: Starting today, Heardle players can listen to the full song on Spotify at the end of the game."

I find this fascinating, in part because I am a Wordle addict.  Or would be if they'd let me play more than just once a day.  (So thank goodness they don't.). Pretty much every morning, as I am warming up my fingers in preparation for writing MNB, I do Wordle - it is like stretching before I go for a run.  (FYI…I have played 156 times…have a winning percentage of 98 percent…and my current.maximum streak is 85.)  And then, later in the morning, I compare scores with Mrs. Content Guy and our oldest son, mostly so we can see the thought processes that each of used - it is less about being competitive than being social.

I've never played Heardle.  Largely that's because I am terrible at recognizing music cues.  Back in the old days, when a bunch of us would play Trivial Pursuit, the general pattern that I would excel at most topics but would be stymied by any music-related question.  It never bothered me;  in the words of Clint Eastwood, " Man's gotta know his limitations."  (Mine are many.)  

But I've also resisted playing all the other Wordle-style games because I like the idea of playing just once every 24 hours.  Not only does it prevent my addictive personality from kicking in, but there's also a certain elegance to the singularity of the experience.

But I digress…

The simple business lesson that I take from this acquisition is that competition can come from anywhere.

Think about it.  The New York Times bought Wordle to bolster its games section, which it hopes will give it access to new potential subscribers.  Spotify buys Heardle to bolster its music business, and it hopes the move will generate new subscribers.  While the Times and Spotify, on the face of it, would not appear to be competitors, in fact they are - they each are competing, along with myriad other companies with varying business models, fir people's time and attention.

We all only have so much time to dedicate to such pursuits.  There only are 24 hours in a day … 60 minutes in an hour … 60 seconds in a minute.  Multitasking notwithstanding, there are limits.  And so everybody competes.  With.  Everybody.

It is, I think, an important and Eye-Opening lesson for retailers, no matter what you happen to be selling.

Regardless of how good you are, there always is going to be somebody else with a different insight, a different value proposition, with the goal of taking your customers.

And even if there isn't, you should act like there is.  In the words of Mark Twain, "Nothing so focuses the mind as the prospect of being hanged."