Opinion: Spotify are coming to Web Summit – does the service work too well?

Join Spotify at Web Summit. Get your ticket.

Spotify are coming to Web Summit. Paul Lamere is speaking at Music Summit – he’s a data scientist at Spotify division The Echo Nest. He helps Spotify users discover new music. I’m as fanatical a Spotify user as they come, but sometimes miss the bygone days of overpriced CDs…

I’d be reluctant to use a word like revolution when talking about a tech company. That’s the kind of language that gets thrown around when talking about Spotify. For me, a revolution is what happened in France in 1789.

This is what I do know about Spotify, though. I carry it around in my pocket all day, every day. From walking to work – The Stone Roses’ Fool’s Gold – to falling asleep at night – Tom Waits’ Closing Time Spotify is always with me.

I’m actually listening to a Missy Elliott’s Under Construction right now. I paid about 20 quid for the CD just over ten years ago.

I’m what you’d call a Spotify advocate – I’m responsible for my brother and father having accounts. Dad can’t get over it: “Spotify sent me a playlist today full of Randy Newman and The Eagles. How did they know I like Randy Newman and The Eagles?”

Paul Lamere probably had something to do with it. His company Echo Nest was acquired by Spotify in 2014 and is responsible for studying the data generated by the tens of millions of Spotify users every time they play a tune.

As a pre-Spotify teenager I used to spend a solid 90 percent of any money I had on CDs. I’m from Donegal – a remote enough spot in Ireland – and lived about two hour’s drive away from the nearest music shop. The process was fairly straightforward:

  1. Hear a song on the radio I liked.
  2. Be driven demented by a fragment of the song playing on a loop in my head.
  3. Scrape together the money for the album.
  4. Actually get to that music shop.

It was an arduous process and wasn’t particularly enjoyable. If you’re a smoker you’ll know what it feels like to crave a cigarette – you’ll feel slightly itchy and can focus on nothing else. Craving a song felt fairly similar.

My top 100 songs from 2014.

Finally getting your hands on the album you were craving for anything up to three or four months and pressing play on the track that had driven you insane felt similar to taking a pull on a smoke.

In my old bedroom there’s a copy of The Streets’s A Grand Don’t Come For Free sat in a CD rack. The price tag’s still on it.

For €22.99.

It was more expensive than two months of Spotify Premium, but Jesus did I love finally getting to listen to Fit But You Know It after weeks and weeks of half the chorus spinning around my head.

It was a release. [youtube id=”3Qg3rQfeZv4″] Now I hear a song, I take my phone out, I listen to it. Simple. I’m not being gouged by music shops for albums I could probably do without. Spotify are sending west coast rock and 70s singer-songwriter playlists to my Dad.

I find though I almost miss being driven to obsession with a song before finally getting the album it’s on and regaining sanity. A bit of delayed gratification can be a good thing.

Still, 20 quid for a CD?

Join us at Music Summit. Get your Web Summit ticket.

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