Like many others of my age, I grew up with 45s, LPs, and cassettes, long before music went digital. Our idea of a playlist was the rather burdensome, yet exciting process of carrying a box of cherished records to a party, perhaps even with a Dansette record player under one arm, hoping to catch a smooch with the prettiest girl in the room. Later, with the introduction of cassette tapes, music became more compact. Then CDs came along, followed by numerous other improvements to the point where you could carry an entire music collection on a pen drive. Fortunately, smooching never went out of fashion, but how we listened to that music changed forever when it went digital.
File sharing by the likes of Napster, The Pirate Bay, and others made music even more accessible, albeit illegally. In fact, it was not that long ago when I was fixing customers’ PCs for virus infections with the majority of those machines having Limewire, Kazaa, Demonoid, and other file-sharing programs installed, and most of the time, the most common avenues for virus infections. But the point here is that millions of people regarded file sharing as a legit way to acquire music because it was easy and didn’t cost a penny. The music industry simply buried their collective heads in the sand, hoping the problem would go away and yet continue to reap millions from their artists. But music was changing and with the iPod launch in 2001, you could carry your music with you and listen to it anywhere, regardless of where you had acquired it.
Fast forward to 2008 and Spotify was launched by Swedish entrepreneur, Daniel Ek, who somehow managed to bang some music industry heads together and reach licensing deals with some of the major players. One could say the rest is history, but it was a rocky road for Mr. Ek because many of the big record companies didn’t want to share a slice of their cake, in spite of the fact that so much music was still being pirated.
One could say Daniel Ek levelled the playing field and singlehandedly democratised music, but that would maybe be too simplistic. He certainly revolutionised the industry in much the same way that Travis Kalanick of Uber fame revolutionised the ‘taxi’ industry (now known as rides), but maybe with a little more finesse.
Do You Spotify?
As I’ve already mentioned, I’m an oldie and my earliest playlists were always on cassettes for listening to in the car on long journeys, later moving on to CDs and blasting out Deep Purple’s Highway Star when I was a lover of fast cars. Yes, I love music, from Beethoven to Black Sabbath, yet I don’t need it everywhere I go, so when I want to listen to America’s Horse With No Name or Avicii’s Wake Me Up, I can now go to Spotify. Previously, I had relied on YouTube playlists, naturally with an adblocker, but over time it became clumsy and you never knew when a song would be deleted for one reason or another. In fact, it was my stepson who got me on to Spotify, and being a lad in his early twenties, there aren’t many places he goes without his earphones plugged in, or buds as they are called nowadays. When I first signed up with Spotify I went for the free version which is fine, but quite limited, and then discovered that in Argentina, even after taxes, the premium version only costs a couple of dollars a month. So I signed up for that just before our wedding in October 2021 which made putting together a wedding playlist a walk in the park, naturally avoiding Chris De Burgh’s Lady In Red, but definitely including Sex Bomb by Tom Jones, if you’re vaguely interested.
Spotify Is Very Fast
I know Google search is fast, but the speed at which Spotify comes up with search results for the most obscure songs is quite remarkable. If you get the chance to watch The Playlist on Netflix, you’ll see that Daniel Ek wanted perfection when developing the program and he wasn’t satisfied with a delay of even five seconds when searching for a song and now the result is instant. Naturally, this time of year is prime time for music and I expect I’ll put together a New Year’s Eve playlist which can be played off my phone over Bluetooth to the soundbar.
I can also recommend Shazam which is a very handy little app for those times when you hear a song on the radio and you go, “That’s whats-his-name, isn’t it..?”. Just hit Shazam, point your phone at the radio and in seconds you’ll be told who the artist is, which is when you can add it to your Spotify playlist.
For me, the beauty of Spotify is that it’s there when you want it. As I’ve already said, I don’t need to be plugged into it 24/7, don’t listen to music on my motorcycle and for $2 a month, I know I can listen to any song that was ever released when and where I want to.