Surrendering to Streaming


By: Connor Lenahan

Yesterday I took a step that I thought was never going to happen. I joined Spotify Premium.

So what? Big deal, they have over 100 million users – I’m late to the party. This is like saying that I signed up for Netflix. Whoop-de-do, what’s big about this? Well, for the past decade plus I have stood firm in my preference of music and have refused to change. A couple of external forces are forcing my hand, and I can’t decide how I feel.

I got an iPod Classic for Christmas around ten years ago from my parents. I haven’t miraculously kept that original iPod, it broke around a year or two after I got it, but I have been entirely loyal to the iPod classic for as long as I can remember. I am the kind of person that really loves to collect music. As I write this I have over 9,000 songs in my iTunes library. Thanks to my parents varying, deep cut collection of CDs growing up I was able to toss on things to have for any occasion.

I liked the idea of building what I have and watching certain artists grow their catalogs over the years. Once upon a time I had maybe 30 Drake songs after Take Care came out – today I have well over 100 with all of his singles and albums. There’s a fun bit of organization and customization to be had – for example, how I added a cut track to my version of Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper. You spend that much time with the music and it becomes personal and tough to distance yourself from.

Then you toss in the ultimate music player that’s ever existed. My iPod Classic has 160 GB worth of space, meaning I can load up every song, podcast, and audiobook I have and still have nearly half an iPod to go. That’s some massive storage, and extremely convenient when most other devices make you strategically plan out what’s coming with you on the go. The battery life is absurd, I don’t have to put anything into Airplane Mode, I can plug it into any car I’ve ever driven, and I haven’t cracked a screen yet.

The iPod Classic is borderline indestructible.

But now I’m adding onto it. I’m far from ditching it, but the time has come to understand that there is something potentially world changing happening and I’m on the wrong side of history for it.

Apple discontinued the iPod Classic two years ago, saying that its parts were too expensive to continue manufacturing with current demand. 1. Ouch, and 2. that’s telling. I’ve got my stash of iPods to get me through the next few years – especially good given that new iPod Classics are over $500 on Amazon.

Spotify is the leading service out of the three main options. Tidal has incredible exclusives like Lemonade and The Life of Pablo, but you could buy those individual of the services. Apple Music has Drake, cool, but all of his music ends up on iTunes anyway. One way or another there is a way to get the things that Spotify doesn’t have. For most people this would be a deal breaker, but since buying music is my norm I don’t really mind.

But Spotify is too attractive of a sampling platform to pass up. A lot, and I mean a lot, of my iTunes is stuff that I mean to try and never get around to. I, for some reason, own a full AWOLNATION album. A decent chunk is stuff I copy off of CDs to listen to one or two songs of. Spotify is going to help cut that down.

Just today I listened through a bunch of music from Courtney Barnett and realized she is the perfect kind of artist for me. “Pedestrian at Best” is fun and angsty, like most of my 90’s music.

But while I have given bands like The Strokes shots in the past I’ve realized that I like their music intermittently. I could stand to have ten of their songs on my iPod, but I don’t need their full discography. Spotify to the rescue, as now I can poke around through their music to see what songs connect and what doesn’t.

Far better than those thirty second clips on iTunes.

The biggest thing that drew me over was the analytical nature of it all. Spotify matches you to music you might like with your current listening habits. Yeah, they aren’t alone with this, but Discover Weekly is cool enough to have kept me listening to two full hours of new music today. I want to have this show me new stuff because although I can have my huge library of music, that doesn’t change the fact that my Top 25 Most Played on my iTunes is exclusively songs I added in 2013 and nothing since has cracked that list.

Variety is the spice of life, and if this gives me fun ways to look at my musical stats – something I would overwhelmingly love from Apple – that’s beyond worth the price tag alone. But knowing that music is increasingly moving towards streaming and away from the collectible nature, I needed to make the jump. I’m not happy to submit, but I think it’ll be okay.