I signed up for Spotify on day one — streaming music is a godsend for me. Having had the chance to peruse three of the services, I thought I would list some of the highs and lows of each.
- huge catalog (though this is increasingly commoditized)
- most widespread adoption (for sharing links)
- fastest playback (in my experience)
- pretty simple interface
- sync your own music via wifi — this experience is vastly underrated. As a lot of albums aren’t cleared for streaming yet, I like to take the ones I have with me.
- Added a new releases section, even if it leaves something to be desired.
- somewhat ugly
- great content (celebrity playlists, etc) is buried in their email newsletters
- no family plan
- "friends" seem to be limited to Facebook integration. I’m not on Facebook.
- laughable suggestion algorithm (If you like Patty Griffin, you’ll love Burl Ives).
- by far, the best mobile UI
- love the “collection” feature — lets me build my own library of music, a la iTunes, for when I want something comfortable
- very easy to follow people, good user base of tastemakers
- family plan
- low adoption (sort of a big deal to me, I share music all the time).
- for a while, had the smallest library. This has changed some.
- web UI is okay.
- best suggestions, by a long shot. Consistently finding good playlists and stuff I want to listen to.
- you can like and dislike music, ostensibly to hone in on your suggestions
- have “my library” which is similar to Rdio’s “collection”.
- seem to have some music licenses that other services don’t have.
- family plan
- bundled with At&t. One less bill is a good thing, even if the price is the same.
- pretty rough UI. Very difficult to get back to artist page or album page without searching again.
- can’t save an album as a playlist without manually naming it. Seems basic.
- web UI is worthless, though they just launched two weeks ago. I’m on a computer all day — most of my playlist making and saving happens on the computer. At a base level, remember that I am logged in.
- playback has been spotty — at times, I get no reception even on wifi.
Again, just my notes. I like streaming music too much to really dislike any of these. I think Spotify is my mainstay for now, though I’d like to see Beats evolve a bit. It will also be a deal-killer if I can’t transport playlists when switching services. Currently, only Spotify lets you import playlists.
As always, not necessarily new (in fact, fewer and fewer new records each year), but the ones I listened to most in the past year. Click titles for Spotify links. In no order:
Love the slight krautrock touches on this record, and Jose Gonzalez’ voice. A rare record that can serve as background music or focused listening. Enjoyed it more after watching the KEXP live session.
Just outstanding from front to back — every note is perfectly recorded and perfectly placed. I found this very difficult to just cherry pick songs — I usually listened to the album straight through, front to back. “Instant Crush” is probably my favorite, just for the chorus melody and Julian Casablancas’ lazy vocoded croon.
Powerful writing. Isbell takes the leap that I always wanted him to take, though every record before this came up slightly short for me. I think it is a good sign when Spotify shows the play counts — the first track is the highest and it descends from there.
Pure country gold.
Been a fan for a while as they have unleashed a torrent of singles, which are collected nicely with some new tracks on this record. More hooks than a tackle box on this one, which made it very repeatable.
Josh’s divorce record somehow remains hopeful, optimistic, magical, and brings his literary sense that makes it all so rich.
Got intrigued by “Merry Go Round”, hooked by “Follow Your Arrow”, and sold by “Keep It To Yourself”.
More nuanced than their earlier records. It took a lot longer for this to grab me, but I listened to it a lot more in terms of total minutes. Love the Blake Mills cover.
I went through periods where I listened to this on repeat for a week or so. Near-perfect melodies and production.
Stevie Ray Vaughan breaks string, doesn’t care
Recently Read: Philipp Meyer, The Son
Tore through this big Texas epic in just a few days. It’s inspiring, heartbreaking, and everything in between — constantly shifting narrators leave cliffhangers from chapter to chapter, as the perspectives shift across centuries before finally linking the entire story together. Highly recommended.
Amazing shots of Dallas…from a drone.
Twenty years ago today.
Tell Me Why (Neil Young Cover) — Radiohead
Thom Yorke’s Voice
Here’s a thought: everyone knows that Spotify/Pandora/whoever pays a fraction of a penny to an artist each time a song is played. There is much debate over how small that fraction is, but it is less than a penny — I think we can all agree on that.
I understand the Spotify argument that they can’t pay more without scaling paid users. Can’t pay out money that isn’t coming in, at least not for very long.
But what if the payout was based on share of listens? Say I pay my $9.99/mo, and 50% (lowballing, by Spotify’s claims) goes to rightsholders, artists, labels, etc. That puts around $4.99 available to be paid out. If I spend half of my time on Spotify listening to Tom Petty (likely), then why shouldn’t he receive $2.49 for the month?
The question really lies in whether Spotify can build a profitable business model on 30% of their revenue a month. In the meantime, they desperately need adoption, and backlash from artists doesn’t help. But what if artists could make more money from their super-listeners? Or even the person who listens to 10 songs a month, but half of those listens are a single artist?
Open to criticism on this, but it seems to accomplish a few things:
1. Takes the argument away from a dubious per-song rate into a rev-share argument
2. Incentivizes artists to get people listening regularly
3. Incentivizes artists to make music worth listening to over and over again
How am I wrong here?
Dallas, Texas - Shepard Fairey’s Obey Mural - Singleton & Beckley
Love this area.
Cluster of observatories atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano
National Geographic | June 1983
Phosphorescent - Song For Zula
Love the feel of this. And auto-post because of the Johnny Cash quote that bookends the whole thing.