I’m sad to admit that I just recently got into the whole streaming music thing. My sister was kind enough to sign me up under her Spotify account so I wouldn’t have any excuse to not listen to albums and songs that she suggested. Seeing as it’s 2018 and I just now started to stream sounds really bad, so what the fuck have I been doing this whole time?
I’ve been pirating music like it’s 2005. You know, living in the past. You see I’m really fucking cheap and paying $10 a month isn’t a whole lot, but when I compare that to getting music for free, well, $10 is more than free. I also doubted that I would make that $10 worth while. It’s basically equal to purchasing an album every month or so, and I would probably never purchase 12-15 albums a year, so it’s a net loss for me even if it isn’t that much money. If I wanted to listen to something I’d pirate it or use some stupid Google Play credit or Amazon credit to purchase an mp3 version. Like I said, I’ve been living in the past.
So now that I got Spotify, how is it? It’s pretty damn cool, but it’s also pretty shitty for a few reasons. It has me nervous about music in the future, and while I’m probably overreacting I’m still nervous.
Spotify gives you an amazing amount of music, music that I’d never dream about trying to find and listen to. When I was pirating music I was limited to well-known albums, and full albums at that. Sometimes I’d torrent an artists entire discography and just select the albums I wanted. Other times I wouldn’t even be able to find a copy to pirate. I was recently trying to find The Lion King Soundtrack and The Lord of the Rings soundtracks but couldn’t find them anywhere. Would I purchase them somewhere or just go without? Pirating is cool because it’s free but it makes your choices rather limited. Sometimes you just couldn’t find what you wanted.
Spotify has the total opposite problem (a good problem to have but still a problem): now there’s too much music to listen too! I seriously have access to whatever the fuck I want to listen to and it’s rather overwhelming. I couldn’t find The Lion King or Lord of the Rings before but now I have access to both (or all 4 because LoTR is really three soundtracks…) as well as everything else in the world. I hop in my car to drive to work and I have no idea what to listen to now. LoTR, Death Grips, my sister’s playlist, punk music, rock music, Disney music, podcasts, and basically what the hell am I going to listen to now?
It’s like my post on how video games are too long: there’s now too much music for me to listen to and I don’t have the time or the focus.
My ADD seems to flair up quite a bit too with all of the choices I now have. I drive 20 minutes to and from work for a total of 40 minutes 5 times a week. I could listen to a single album each day if I really focused on listening to just a single album. But before work and after work I have differing moods. I want to listen to some upbeat shit on the way to work and some depressing shit after work. Focusing on a single album is nearly impossible unless it’s something like Animal Collective’s Feels by having the upbeat shit on the first half and the ambient, spacey shit on the second half. With the nearly infinite choice of music to listen to I find myself jumping from song to song and not enjoying a single artist or album in all its glory. I just go from favorite song to favorite song and hit after hit not giving two fucks about the “deeper tracks” that are out there.
That leads me to my concern: is The Album dead? Back in the 1950s and 1960s music was focused on hit singles; artists and companies would sell 45 rpm “singles” with a “b-side” and no one gave two shits about full length albums (LPs). This changed with some massively glorious albums released by The Beatles (Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, etc.) and The Beach Boys (Pet Sounds) among others. Those albums are meant to be a single album and experience and people started to make good albums and not simply good singles. I’m talking Ziggy Stardust, The Dark Side of the Moon, and other albums that are a single, solid piece of artwork. Hell, you can even go all the way to The Suburbs and The Lonesome Crowded West because those are fantastic. Oh shit! I forgot Doolittle! Obviously there are tons of other good albums besides those so don’t shit on me if I didn’t mention your favorite album ever. I was just making a point.
With streaming music I think things could change back to how they used to be with the focus on singles. This already seems to be the case with popular radio and has been for the past however the fuck long. The kids seem to know Taylor Swift’s newest song word for word but don’t know shit else from the album. They don’t give a shit about overarching album themes, deeper tracks, or the artist’s “purpose”. I guess The Album was still there holding strong even with radio and its focus on singles but now I’m not so sure. With so many choices, good songs, and our collective inability to pay attention at all I can envision The Album going the way of the CD and cassette tapes and becoming a relic of the past.
Or maybe I’m just a pessimist.
Streaming is pretty damn cool as long as my data usage doesn’t get out of control. But with all those choices of songs, albums, podcasts, and playlists, I just can’t sit down and focus on a single artist or album. That part kinda Sucks, but it kinda Sucks in a good way if that makes sense. I just hope people keep making quality albums.