Last Sunday I was in a good mood, a really good mood. A mood good enough to purchase something stupid. When the Urban Outfitters ‘sale’ section proved underwhelming I took out my CC and bought the next most illogical thing: Spotify Premium.
I fought the free version of Spotify for a while. I wasn’t ready to give up iTunes. Yeah, the UX sucked and yeah it was so slow but we had been together through three different computers and four different illegal P2P softwares. I never understand people who are so eager to replace old platforms without a trial period. It took me way too long than I’d now like to admit to switch over from Safari to Chrome.
My hesitancy with Spotify stemmed from my need to own the music, to store it on my HD. I realize how hypocritical this is as I’ve probably paid for less than 25 songs in my entire life but I was born in 1989 so sue me. There is something awfully romantic about owning a piece of art, especially when it’s music. iTunes is the record crate of the aughts.
My iTunes library in 2005 was the most important thing I owned. Besides my Myspace ‘About Me’ there was nothing that better represented me to the rest of the world than my ‘brary. I was proud of my eclectic live performances, acoustic rarities and the dirty version of Nellyville. There was no greater moment of judgement than handing over your iPod to a new friend, or in rare occurrences a girl. Points if she knew Bright Eyes. What you had stored said it all, and in case you were missing the new Death Cab it was probably worth disclaiming that you had too many gigs on your iTunes to fit it all on your iPod. Good save.
I’ve gotten worse at music discovery over the past year and in a sense, I blame it on Spotify. For years, I was determined to find the best new music, and if I found something , an immediate download meant it could soon be mine, saved forever. Yeah, downloading the songs helped me remember which ones I liked, but it also added a sense of familiarity. There was something to opening a .mp3 file for the first time on iTunes, waiting to find out how much information the file held (in case I needed to add Artist or Album), and listening to the song as it played automatically. The songs always sounded different once they were on your hard drive; even the most off-genre tracks seemed easier to comprehend when the arrived in the iTunes library.
With Spotify, I now “star” the songs I would have downloaded. It’s such an easy process, anyone can do it — great. When I ‘star’ something it ends up in my, wait for it, “starred,” playlist and now I listen to these same 80 songs on repeat until a year passes and I come up on a new 80. I appreciate that the process is easy and I spend a lot of time not having to translate french websites to find an .mp3 link but the files do not live on my computer, instead they are stored at some huge data center probably in some shitty place like Sacramento.
Maybe even more troubling though, is that I rely on Spotify for songs. For a second there, Spotify didn’t have “Get Lucky” and I nearly died. When I want to listen to my favorite new 2 Chainz joint 28 times in a row I have to go to Soundcloud. The music discovery aspect is great for older songs, but new singles, remixes and live sets — good luck.
I’ve migrated with the rest of my generation to Spotify and by purchasing the Premium version I am now surrendering to our new green music overlord, but let the record show that I really held out as long as possible. May we forever be known as the iTunes generation who never bought a song on iTunes.