a thoughtful web.
Share good ideas and conversation.   Login or Take a Tour!
comment by goobster

There's a lot to think about in this article... it's stuck with me and been present in my mind since yesterday.

One could argue that the algorithm in Spotify is doing the exact opposite of the radio, where you can only hear 1-2 songs from any band, and they will always be the same songs. Spotify is crate-digging for you... but also, at the same time, kinda misrepresenting that artist in a way...

I've made records where we just threw a track on there to fill it up... a simple little thing that we had no attachment to, but needed a space-filler. And what would I think if THAT was the most played track by my band on Spotify?

My metal band in high school got quite a bit of popularity, in our area. There was a dumbass ditty we made up at rehearsal one day to make fun of the type of "technical metal" (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc.) that we were playing, and required a lot of skill to play.

PEOPLE STARTED REQUESTING THAT COMEDY SONG.

So... I like the algorithm isn't skimming artists, but doing some actually deep and interesting algorithmic analysis of songs and their relation to each other... but at the same time, doesn't the popularity of a song OUTSIDE the algorithm need to be considered as well...?

Or is radio just so corrupt and non-representative of what people want to listen to any more that completely ignoring plays outside of Spotify is the right thing to do? Or does your algorithm become to incestuous?

No right or wrong answers there... but definitely things that need to be considered by people who ARE NOT writing the algorithm...





dublinben  ·  64 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I refuse to use Spotify. I don't want my musical tastes to be determined by a black-box algorithm. I think it's sad that many people just listen to whatever music the machine tells them to, instead of trading recommendations with friends. Any college radio station will give you more interesting music than the autogenerated playlists from Spotify.

Kaius  ·  54 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm pretty awful at finding and listening to new music, I rarely actively try to do it, and when I do its a frustrating experience.

The two ways (admittedly sad) I've found to make it work are:

1. Get a recommended album from somewhere and FORCE myself to listen to it fully. I say force because on that first listen I will almost always not like it, rarely do I like something first time unless its pop rubbish. Once I've heard it enough times it either clicks or it doesn't, It very rarely clicks on the first few listens. Much of the music I listen to now I really didn't like first time hearing it... which is odd I know.

2. Have Spotify or something else "sneak" in a new track I haven't heard before using its algorithm. It seems like Spotify does this well enough to not trigger my new-music-disgust alarm. I'm guessing its a mix of knowing what I like, and what other people who like what I like also like... So Spotify allows me to discover a type of new music and I use it for that.

The downside to all of this is a big one: Eventually my music collection will be listings that Spotify found for me rather than ones I put effort into finding, which sounds "ok" at first pass, however its a disaster long term. My guess is that Spotify's algorithm will fundamentally change the music that gets produced in future, as artists that can more effectively chase the algorithm will be the ones who win out over artists creating "different" music that is not as easy to sneak into listeners ears...

Its the same with Netflix, Disney, Books... The algorithms are great in the very immediate short term where they find existing works that match what you want, but the whole things slides into grey-sludge as soon as new art is submissive to the algorithms in order to succeed.

goobster  ·  61 days ago  ·  link  ·  

What an odd way to abdicate your agency in decision making and taste...?

Personally, my musical tastes are informed by decades of listening to and playing music. My tastes are incredibly wide, and ever-expanding as I find new things to love, and love to learn old things I never appreciated before.

The tool I use to push music out of my speakers has always been irrelevant, until Spotify came along and introduced me to new artists that I had not previously heard of.

ButterflyEffect  ·  64 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You’re right, but also have access to some amazing stations such as KEXP, KBCS, KNKX, etc. Fortunately other fantastic stations such as WFMU can be streamed online, along with countless others including some great Canadian stations. All of which are a marked improvement on Spotify and streaming services.

Shit I’ll write up a post on radio and what to put on your dial if people are interested.

goobster  ·  61 days ago  ·  link  ·  

In my home, we are either listening to KEXP, or The Current from Minneapolis. I don't know what station it is - my wife is from there and worked at The Current in the late 80's - but we stream it almost constantly.

With rare exceptions, KEXP is impossible to listen to. Way too little shoe-gazing music and not enough music with oomph. That's why The Current is so bomb... Minneapolis is a thriving hub of musical creativity, and always has been, from Husker Du to Prince to Lizzo. So The Current is just wonderful in its range and complexity.

The fact is, though, I have learned of exactly two bands from the radio, and Spotify introduces me to new artists CONSTANTLY. I literally find a new artist every week, then go to their site and buy something from them. I mentioned one of them in this week's music roundup post.

ButterflyEffect  ·  61 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    With rare exceptions, KEXP is impossible to listen to.

...I am just not going to respond to this part because it will not be kind to you ;)

As for the rest, that is funny, because between KEXP and KBCS and WFMU I am finding multiple new artists every week, either from the general music shows or the special focus shows. So, to each their own!

steve  ·  64 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    PEOPLE STARTED REQUESTING THAT COMEDY SONG.

I feel like this is how the Beastie Boys started...

goobster  ·  61 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Oh man... I was BIG into rap when License To Ill came out, and I thought FOR SURE those boys were gonna be murdered by the "serious" rappers.

They seemed to be making a joke of the whole genre... and I did not think that was going to go over well with the gangstas.

Now, I think the Beasties are one of the most important acts in old school rap.