As their unbelievably happy video attests, Spotify is here:
I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, reading about how this legal stream-all-the-music-you-want service is changing the face of music all over the world. So when I saw it was here I signed up for an invitation right away and got my “Step right up!” email in the next day or two.
I’m not going to go into all the features, because you can read about that elsewhere. Suffice it to say that it really is as easy as it sounds. I downloaded the program, logged in, searched “harry potter and the deathly hallows part 1” and instantly began streaming the soundtrack. (Part 2 isn’t up yet, as far as I can tell–but it’s on Grooveshark!) This morning I thought, “Oh! I haven’t bought the newest R.E.M. album yet! I’ll stream it now!” It’s going now, and I really love it.
Quick interlude: before I got married, I listened to music while falling asleep every once in a while–say, 2 nights a month. I would put on a CD, and I’d almost always be asleep before it ended. When I got my first mp3 player, I made awesome “fall asleep” playlists, because I love playlists. But I found that when I listened to the playlists, I would never actually fall asleep with them on. It wasn’t the headphones–when in college, I fell asleep plenty of times to Björk’s Vespertine through headphones.
I finally decided that I couldn’t sleep to the mp3s because there were too many of them. I always wondered, “What’s coming up next?” or I thought, “Oh, I don’t want to hear this one, so I’ll just skip it–there are dozens more!” That little bit of mental engagement kept me from sleep. I’ve nostalgically felt somewhat similar feelings about cassettes sometimes: when your friend makes you a mix tape, you get to know every song on that tape, because you don’t want to bother fast-forwarding to the songs you know you like. And in the meantime, you often begin to like the songs that you initially didn’t appreciate as much. With a mix CD, there’s nothing stopping you from plowing ahead. In both cases, there’s something about the bounty and ease of the new technology that had an unexpected, negative side-effect on the human element. (Call it the epistemology of the cassette, if you like words like that.)
Back to Spotify. Now that I have it, I hear this little, eager voice in my gut that moves from one possible future listen to the next, with somewhat alarming speed: “Oh! And I could listen to Paula Abdul later! And then Cyndi Lauper! And Depeche Mode! And The Cure! And Phish! Do they have live Phish? Live Pearl Jam? Live Death Cab? Rare Death Cab? Rare Smashing Pumpkins? Rare Björk? Club-remix Björk? Club-remix Delerium? Old-school Delerium?”
And on, and on, and on.
So while I’m excited at what Spotify can offer me, I’m wary about anything that makes me think so much about me and my wants, and allows me to fill those wants so easily, with no hesitation at all. I’m afraid that too much bounty puts me into a me-focused, jittery mindset that doesn’t include room for living within boundaries, or sleep. No, I’m not anti-Spotify. I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep using it for a long, long time. But I’m also trying to pay attention to subtle changes that new technologies want to make in me, and I want to be the one who decides which changes are allowed to happen.
Am I over-thinking this?