I like music. I like people. However, I am not a fan of the overwhelming and overbearing ubiquity of social media in our culture. That last statement appears to preclude me from participating in most of today’s interesting digital music discovery services.
My plan was to begin writing about some of the exciting new music discovery applications, like Spotify and turntable.fm, that are cropping up like dandelions all over the Internet. In order to write from a basis of experience I planned to join some of these services. The news flash to me is that in order to join many of these services I have to have a Facebook account, or be willing to “share my music with friends” on Twitter or some other social media site. Wow… I just wanted to listen to music.
Spotify is the main offender of this annoying development. Not only can you not get a free account on Spotify without a Facebook account, you can’t get a paid “premium” account either. Sean Parker, the precocious mastermind behind Napster, the controversial music file-sharing site that turned the music industry on its ear, is a major investor in Spotify and Facebook. This mandatory Facebook requirement would seem to have his fingerprints all over it.
What’s a poor adult boy who just wants to listen to music to do? I don’t want to jam music into other people’s ear holes, and I don’t want it jammed into mine. I don’t want some “sophisticated algorithm” like Apple’s Genius telling me what I “might also like.” And I don’t want to see what other people are tagging and poking and liking on some tedious social network that’s trying to hijack eyeballs and ears and sell them to advertisers.
This may be part of the reason that vinyl is enjoying a surge of popularity. Vinyl is a throw-back to the good old days of A&R and FM radio and offers a comfort to music fans who long for a simpler era of taste manipulation. I guess we’ve always been told what to listen to and been at the mercy of music-industry weasels. But at least our personal information and preferences weren’t being commoditized and turned into business models.
I’ll continue to support fixed-disc formats like vinyl and CD and cling to what precious little of my privacy remains. And I’ll keep searching for digital sites that don’t force me to be social.