Friday, January 14, 2011

Music - All You can Eat: "Your Eyes are Bigger Than Your Stomach."

Back in June, The Daily Swarm asked a simple question: Is Rdio The Next Spotify, Mog, Rhapsody, Blah-Blah (Cloud-Based Music Industry Panacea That Never Really Takes-Off)?

I've been using Rdio for the past six months and Spotify for the past two years. I still buy music via iTunes / Amazon from time-to-time, but increasingly I prefer to use subscription-based "all you can eat" services like Spotify and Rdio. It changes everything - sometimes for the good, sometimes not so much. Any artist, any song, any album, and increasingly any playlist I can imagine is available. There are few exceptions. Moreover, these things are now available in virtually unlimited supply. If I'm in the mood, I can add Brazilian music (Jobim, Gilberto, Gil, Elias, Samba Enredo, and much more), classical (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven . . . played by Uchida, Gould, Horowitz, or in the case of concertos, by the orchestra of choice), popular, rock, indie - from Thievery Corporation, and Outkast, to Cake . . . [as I write this, I'm listening on Rdio to Federal Funding on Cake's "Showroom of Compassion"] and much, much more,

But as my father often said when we were kids: "You're eyes are bigger than your stomach." A comment often heard at the dinner table when we'd helped ourselves to portions that were, um, aspirational. He knew we'd never be able to eat all we'd dished up.

The same thing happens today with subscription based "all you can eat" music services. I don't know how many hours it would take to listen to all the tracks I have in my Rdio and Spotify collections, but it's entirely possible the total time would exceed my life expectancy by a number of years. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. But it very definitely changes the calculus. I no longer have to try to determine whether I'll like Cake's album. I add the album to my collection, and I listen to as much of it as I have time for.

Still, there is a rub. Sometimes the bright shiny object - the latest album release by Artist X - lures me away from something I was already listening to. Musical attention deficit.

On the other hand, I long for a world that would support my sharing a link to music via a blog with a great deal of confidence that anyone who reads it will be able to click on and play the music from beginning to end. Legally. With reasonable portions of the subscription fees going to the artists.

If you're a subscriber to any of these services, I'd like to hear your thoughts. (Spotify isn't generally available in the US yet, though every other day someone publishes a news story indicating that a Spotify US launch is imminent.) If you use them, do you like the services? Have they changed the way you listen to music? Have they changed what you listen to, how you discover, and whether and how you share music with others? Let me know.

No comments: