There was a time when the aggressively dancing silhouettes of passionate iPod users plagued our TVs. The boisterous colors contrasting the minimalistic white chrome of the new product drew the envy of casual music listeners and elitists alike. Having grown up with these ad campaigns, the era of the mp3 player seems nearly tangible, and yet, the music industry continues to make its shift towards the digital domination of online music streamers.
Since the conception of MySpace, websites have continuously popped up over the internet boasting streaming capabilities. Though the music is often free, without a premium subscription the continuous stream of non-stop tunes is hindered by relentless ads, limited skips and the inability to listen to specific songs on demand.
The biggest culprit of this newest musical trend is Spotify.
Truthfully, as intriguing as the abundance of hip playlists, and the subtle aesthetic of the grey and lime detailing are, they’re but a slight savior to the ads and limited variety of music the app offers.
In hindsight, many people aren’t bothered by the ads, or even a payment of $9.99 to rid themselves of these interruptions. But personally, when appreciating the fluidity of an Arctic Monkeys album or reveling in the soothing sound of Florence and the Machine, I’d rather not be pulled out of my trance to find out what makes Lebron James “thirsty”.
But, as with most things I don’t like, I’ve made multiple attempts to become enamored by the so-called glory of this streaming service. So, imagine my surprise when musicians like Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks and AC/DC aren’t even available on a site that promises not to disappoint.
Seemingly, I’m not the only one to feel this way, as many listeners and music streamers have protested against the detraction of their favorite artists. The absence of these top-selling artists, at first glance, seems a ludicrous and shallow move on their part – I mean, the profits brought in by hosts like Spotify alone prove to be extremely lucrative. But, it appears that a quick delve into the minds of these award winning musicians sheds light onto a deeper meaning.
In a recent interview with Time, Swift abandoned her call for fame through her musical talents and instead sparked a movement for appreciation. She recognized, as many listeners do, the emotional importance and depth music instills in our lives. Yet, at the same time, artists have become so focused on profit that the meaning of music has become lost. Combine that with the money made off of streaming vs actual record sales, the strenuous hours put in by both artists and crew prove undercompensated.
Yet, like most, money is not the center of all things great.
By removing her music from Spotify, Swift hopes to revert our instantly gratified society back to its slightly-more-humble ways of organic listening. Swift may not have demanded a return to the age of vinyls, but more so a subtle stance against technological consumption. The absence of her music forces us to take a step back from our sticky keyboards and smudged touchscreens made for skipping, choosing, and instantly responding to our beck and call for the blessing of just being able to listen.
And while Swift can’t speak for every artist Spotify has become void of, it seems that her message has hit home for fellow musicians like Garth Brooks, with whom she officially shares zero country roots with.
So sure, the prospect of actually paying for music is disguised as a setback to our technologically-dependent society. It’s still, truthfully, more than we deserve. After all, the small price we pay for our music is just the tiniest of odes to the priceless art we’ve become accustomed to.
In a world where music has become a universal language and such a raw form of art that can bring about a mutual connection, it’s important to pay homage to the people who create it.