After an agonizing wait, America has finally joined Europe in Spotify reality. American customers now have instant access to essentially all published music. That’s right. Go ahead and get a free account, then search for whatever obscure popular music you can think of. It’s probably in there. Even the stuff you overheard that annoying hipster in the coffee shop blather on about.
It’s hard to overstate how important this is. In Sweden, where the service originated, Spotify is ubiquitous. Hear about a new interesting band? Fire up Spotify and listen. Hosting a party? Make a Spotify playlist. Guest at a party where the music sucks? Log in to Spotify and play your own—obviously infinitely superior—playlist.
This is a huge turning point for the music business, and I’m deliriously happy Spotify somehow managed to talk the notoriously Luddite and short-sighted U.S. labels into licensing their content1. (It’s not perfect, though. There are some frustrating region-licensing hangovers, where Spotify has the rights in Europe but not the U.S and vice versa, and of course some labels aren’t onboard.)
Not to get hyperbolic, but the only reasons to purchase a physical CD these days are because you enjoy them as artifacts or you have a serious case of audiophilia and must have lossless music2. Nothing wrong with that, of course. But unless those are the kinds of thing that floats your boat, and you purchase digital music from iTunes or Amazon, there’s really no reason to bother anymore. It’s all there, endless raindrops in the cloud.
Like I rhapsodized in my panegyric to e-book readers, the future is freaking here. THE FUTURE IS HERE. We can have all music. And the artifacts around it, the jewel cases and discs, are now from the past.
Sure, your comfort level with jettisoning the physical aspects of your entertainment correlates with your age and nerditry—for many of my fellow Gen Xers, the mere idea of not having shelves of CDs and LPs is enough to cause a nervous breakdown. And that’s okay. Be your codger self. But for the next generation coming up, I can’t imagine them doing anything but roll their eyes at all those books and CDs cluttering up your house.
For the labels, just like the movie studios and book publishers, I really hope they all sit down in front of a mirror, take a deep breath, look themselves in the eye and have a nice daily affirmation: “I am not in the business of selling physical goods. I am not in the business of selling physical goods. And that’s ok. I’m good enough and I’m smart enough. I am not in the business of selling physical goods.”
I have almost every song in the world on the phone in my pocket. How freaking cyber is that?
I’m pretty sure the Spotify representatives wanted to stab themselves in the eye with their own pencils many a time during the negotiations. As an armchair quarterback I’d guess Spotify’s biggest cudgels were the labels’ fear of iTunes and that they provide stats for the publishers. If your songs are on Spotify, you get stats on demographic information, geographical location and even the time and day a song was listened to. That’s pure marketing crack, right there. Businessweek has a thorough article on the origins and challenges of Spotify.↩
And of course, if you’re into vinyl, go nuts with that.↩
Posted Friday, 15 July, 2011 by Nic Lindh
All Nic wants for WWDC is sync that actually works
Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.
The Internet is getting creepy, and Nic is breaking out his tinfoil hat after newspaper paywalls push him over the edge.
Nic is tired of tech sites obsessing over Apple’s financials and business strategy. So very tired.
Nic reads a book about the processed food industry and is incensed.
Computers are complicated. This brings out the irrational in people.
Nic proposes the loan word Rechthaberei be incorporated into American English.
The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.
This site will return in February.
From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.