If one takes a step back to take a fresh look at the technology we have today it is amazing that we barely give it a second thought. This assimilation of technology into everyday routine is explored in Tom Gunning’s essay “Renewing Old Technology.” In considering this topic in relation to my own life I immediately thought of the computer and phone application Spotify, a music service that provides nearly every song from every artist of any time period legally and immediately.
There are two types of Spotify service: the free one supported by advertisements, and a paid subscription that allows for offline listening, among other benefits. Upon its 2008 release, Spotify was only available in the United Kingdom. By 2010 the platform’s popularity had skyrocketed to ten million users and its library of music had reached ten million tracks, and this was still before the United States release. The US release of Spotify was delayed for a few years because of the lack of major label cooperation, but in 2012 Spotify became available to US listeners with only a few extra restrictions. Spotify now has 15 million paying users, 45 million free users, and a library size of over 30 million.
Having almost every song available has affected the music consuming community.
“People now consume a lot more music by a bigger diversity of artists, and the reason they do that is because they no longer discover music from a radio station. They discover music from their friends.” -Daniel Ek, CEO Spotify
Since subscribing to Spotify I have discovered new music from genres like Blues and Old School Hip-Hop that I never would have found if not for Spotify and its many modes of music discovery.
An effect of this level of accessibility is that users now expect to be able to find whatever song they want.When a song is not a part of Spotify’s library some might be driven to other methods of obtaining that track. My initial wonder at being able to discover new music, listen to my favorites, and see what my friends are listening to—all without the risk of paying for a song that I end up not liking—has dulled over time to an expectation of always being able to do so. It wasn’t until I forgot to pay my subscription and had a three-hour car trip without the music I had come to expect that I came to fully appreciate how amazing of an application Spotify truly is.
“Spotify was exactly what music fans had been waiting for, fulfilling the long sought dream of a “celestial jukebox” — a service that makes every song always available, freely and legally.” – Neal Pollack, Wired
Gunning, Tom. Re-Knewing Old Technologies: Astonishment, Second Nature, and the Uncanny in Technology from the Previous Turn-of- the-Century. PDF.
Pollack, Neal. “Spotify’s Celestial Jukebox.” Wired. 7 Jan. 2011. Web. 30 Jan. 2015. <http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2011/02/start/spotify-celestial-jukebox>.
Mcormick, Niel. “Make Way for Spotify: A Big Digital Jukebox in the Ether.” The Telegraph. 4 Feb. 2009. Web. 30 Jan. 2015. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/neil-mccormick/4800152/Make-way-for-Spotify-a-big-digital-jukebox-in-the-ether.html>.