Following up (finally) on a tweet-storm from March about music discovery and libraries now.
I used to subscribe to lots of MP3 blogs. I had lots of free time in high school, and listened fervently to the local college radio station (as I’ve mentioned before, in an autobiography through musical devices.) Music discovery is now fragmented across services—SoundCloud, Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, the now-defunct Rdio, and even 8tracks)—it’s both harder and easier to find new music. The wizardry of Shazam, too, means getting to find out what song is playing in the bar, store, or on the radio so you can buy it or find it later online.
Taylor Swift has been blowing up the music industry lately, first by surprising everyone with the beauty of her latest album. SNL dubbed it a result of Swiftamine, and I can certainly say I’m under the spell.
Then, pre-release, she removed her entire discography from Spotify. The Atlantic reflects on this decision by pointing out, “Owning music outright, instead of renting it through a streaming service, would be better for listeners and artists in the long run. Indeed, it would be better for just about everyone except Spotify.”
Pitchfork recently published a great longform essay on music streaming. It covered the past, history, and present of music streaming, and brought up a lot of great points. These are my reactions.
The piece discussed how “the “omnivore” is the new model for the music connoisseur, and one’s diversity of listening across the high/low spectrum is now seen as the social signal of refined taste.” It would be interesting to study how this omnivority splits across genres, age groups, and affinities. I find myself personally falling into omnivore status, as I am never able to properly define my music taste according to genre, and my musical affinities shift daily, weekly, monthly, with common themes.
Also discussed is the cost of music, whether it be licensing, royalties, or record label advances. Having to deal with the cost of music is a difficult matter. I wonder if I would have been such a voracious consumer of music if I hadn’t grown up with so many free options with the library, the radio, and later, music blogs. Now that I’m older, I make the effort to purchase music when I feel the artist deserves it, but as I distance myself (incidentally, really) from storing music on my computer, that effort becomes less important to expend.
Inspired in part by Cyborgology’s Autobiography through Devices series
I grew up surrounded by music. Dancing wildly in the living room to REM’s Don’t Go Back to Rockville and Rusted Root’s Ecstasy with my siblings as we were toddlers remain fond childhood memories of mine. As I grew older I kept listening to my parents’ music, including an entrenched eighties phase, and as I left Junior High, I owned a Train tape, a Cat Stevens Classics CD, and Motion City Soundtrack’s first album, I Am The Movie, among others. I shied away from the popular music of my peers in Junior High, and avoided Alkaline Trio, System of a Down, and Blink 182 (this was a mistake, I might add).