Free From The Shackles of Algorithm: Au Revoir, Spotify
Tired of algorithms and tired of life, Spotify has eroded my will to discover new music since it began prioritising quick singles over artist discographies.
After eight or nine years of the streaming giant Spotify taking over my musical selection and informing me of discoveries, I have finally given into personal ethics and fatigue by cancelling my subscription and leaving a partial vow to not look back.
Over almost a decade, it has led me from subculture to subculture; from an angry youthful individual seeking out the latest in the American hardcore scene, to Spotify’s final years of usefulness: aiding my own need for new jazz and electro tracks. The site shaped my image, helping hone my music taste to a somewhat extensive degree. However, in recent years, Spotify has become somewhat humbled and less focused on the unearthing of artist’s albums.
It has become more fixated upon its need to fulfil the market demand for quick singles and easy listening. Through this, it has produced background noise en masse, playlists to fit particular moods, and half-arsed algorithms designed to adapt to a listener’s musical consumption. My own experiences with these playlists are this: the artists have a lack of intrigue and dynamic range, artists are not necessarily representative of my current music tastes (imagine being bludgeoned with recommendations to listen to Parquet Courts every day, every week and every month), and have a lack of personality. Listening, too, became easy. I was seduced into a technophile world where discovery did not matter too much, one where I was bombarded with suggestions that had little personal value, nor meaning.
This split — or divorce — from the app is more of a personal direction. It is quite understandable that in the age of streaming and ease of access, many persons are not so involved with the arts, preferring to receive much rather than discover. The New York Times culture editor, Gilbert Cruz, recently published a conversation with one of the publication’s music critics, Jon Caramanica, where they discussed — albeit briefly — how ease of access has disrupted the chain of musical production.