I recently lost a large chunk of my music library. About a year ago, I would have been terribly upset. Much of my library was pirated, but on some level, I felt that it defined me. I prided myself on the collection of songs I had amassed because of its breadth.
This year, though? I have Spotify. So do plenty of other Americans: Earlier this year, U.S. Spotify users surpassed 1.4 million.
The service allows users to create playlists and mark favorites, but there’s no need to store anything on your hard drive.
Spotify is starting to change the way we think about music. We’re becoming less focused on ownership and more focused on pure access. To listen to your music on the go, all you need is an internet connection — or $10 a month. The mobility is refreshing.
Still, Spotify’s attempt at making music social is less impressive. The service recently partnered with Facebook. If you choose to link your Spotify and Facebook, you can create and share playlists with your friends.
Non-users probably also noticed that Spotify publishes everything you listen to in your friends’ news feeds.
Are some of these perks useful? Yes. It provides an easy way to share music with your friends without any concerted effort on your end.
If Spotify continues to rely on Facebook, however, it will never make music social in a way that introduces people to new songs and artists.
Facebook is a nice stepping-stone, but to maximize its potential, Spotify should strive to become its own social network.
Like a status update, video footage or a comment about your cousin’s wedding, music is meant to be shared.
A few centuries ago, people would have found the idea of sitting alone with a pair of headphones absurd. Technology allows us to listen in private, but most people still like to talk about their favorite tunes; most people still derive a special kind of joy from concerts, raves and dance parties.
Nevertheless, Spotify should recognize that the social function of music is not the same as the social function of, say, a photo album.
While a photo album says something about how you spend your time, a song says something about your particular taste.
The two aren’t always related. You don’t have to be an anarchist to enjoy punk. You don’t have to own a gun to be a fan of gangster rap — or country music, for that matter.
Unfortunately, many people still judge each other by music taste.
This tendency is especially strong among people who don’t know each other well; after all, they don’t have much to go off in the first place.
Because Facebook friend lists are more like acquaintance lists, most people on Facebook probably can’t put what you’re listening to into context.
That’s why I didn’t connect Spotify to Facebook. I see myself as a reasonably classy human being, but when exams and papers roll around, I put on an endless stream of Ke$ha.
I’ll admit that it’s silly to care too much about what other people think. Yet, Facebook is and always has been a way of putting your best foot forward. Spotify doesn’t give users that option. You have to bare all or bare nothing.
People who share your taste aren’t always people you’d want to know.
If Spotify were to become a self-contained social network, you would have the option to connect with people without sharing your life with them. Imagine profiles — not unlike those on Facebook — focused solely on peoples’ musical preferences. Imagine if, instead of listing people you might know, Spotify listed people whose music you might like.
Rather than wondering how many people saw our last embarrassing playlists, we would be discovering new artists with the help of people from all over the world.
Spotify is convenient. It allows users to sample a decent variety of music without forking over money for each song.
But if Spotify wants to go from convenient to indispensable, it needs to step up its social game.
Maya Itah is a senior majoring in communication.