MFor example, Lytham was working her job at the bakery one morning in Boston when she had an epiphany. I was commissioned to choose the soundtrack for the day, I opened spotify, then click and tap, endlessly searching for something to play. nothing was perfect at present. She looked more than that, through playlist after playlist. An uncomfortable familiar episode, it made her realize: She hated how music was used in her life. “That was the problem,” she says. “Use Music, rather than being her own experience… What kind of music would I use to set the mood for the day? What will I use to enjoy walking? I’m really starting to not like what that means.”
It wasn’t just passive listening, it was a utilitarian style of music that seemed to be made by the broadcast environment. “I decided that music should be this instrument [create] It wasn’t an experience rather than an experience in itself something I was thinking of.” So she cut her Spotify service, and then, Apple Music Also, to focus on making listening to it more “from home” and less of a background experience.
Such accounts have become increasingly common in recent years, as dedicated listeners to music continue to wrestle with the unethical economy of broadcasting companies, and feel the effects of sharing-obsessed business models that shape habits on their listening and exploration habits. In the process, they are looking for alternatives.
“With the flow,” says Finlay Shakespeare, “things are beginning to get more out of reach and get rid of.” Shakespeare, a Bristol-based musician and sound engineer, recently deleted his streaming accounts and bought a used iPod on eBay for £40. With the broadcast, he says, “If I didn’t take up an album or an artist’s work initially, I tended not to go back to it.” But he realized that a lot of his favorite albums were the ones that grew on him over time. “The broadcast was actually contributing to a certain degree of exclusion of new music.” Even with digital downloads, he tended to give music more time and attention.
Jared Samuel Elioseff, a multi-instrumentalist who records as Invisible Familiars and owns a studio in Cambridge, New York, also felt that the streaming environment was hindering his overall musical curiosity: “I’ve been below Spotify for two years now. My musical experience definitely feels more dedicated and focused.” It’s not convenient. I’ll reluctantly admit that I listen to less music. Even though I’m on Spotify I didn’t necessarily listen to stuff. I was checking the first 15 seconds and hitting skip. Now, I have to work for it and I love it I can use the internet as a search tool but I don’t use it as a means of listening I really have to look for things and search.
“Live broadcasting makes the listening experience more passive,” he continues. The word “flow” is one of those things that is gradually assimilated into everyone’s vocabulary. Before the music was broadcast, what else was streaming? This idea that you can just turn on the faucet, and the music comes out. It’s something that everyone takes for granted.”
Conversations about how digital markets for listening have long focused on album decompilation. For some, though, they felt this was clearly related to live streaming. Nick Krauseniuk, a music lover and network engineer who has recently moved away from streaming, felt his listening habits were particularly influenced by Spotify’s “Favorite Songs” playlist: “I found myself picking more and more one-off songs from an artist, while before I leaned to save an entire album.
Mylesby, a 23-year-old hip-hop artist from Richmond, Virginia, who recently canceled all broadcast subscriptions after learning how few musicians are compensated, noted something similar: “I’m going to listen to one song 100 times in a row, but I won’t give it a shot.” For the rest of the album. Before I used streaming services, I’d listen to everything.”
Miles says he is increasingly seeing artists selling CDs and downloads at shows; In fact, for some who have deleted Spotify and Apple Music accounts, leaving streaming means a big re-imagining of their relationship with MP3 files. For Shakespeare, downloads are now his primary way of consuming: he replaced his iPod hard drive with a micro SD card base to increase capacity, and loaded it with Bandcamp purchases and ripped CDs.
For Krawczeniuk, moving away from Spotify after eight years was partly inspired by the realization that with open source software, a home server, and a VPN on his phone, he could build something similar himself. He’s now using a project called Navedrom To create a self-hosted streaming library that can stream from anywhere across different devices. “It’s a little box that sits on my desk, plugged into my router,” he explains. The server keeps all of its music, including Bandcamp purchases and ripped CDs: “It’s a simple music library.” He sees the move away from Big Streaming linked to a broader movement toward small-scale technology projects and open source services that don’t consume a lot of resources or energy.
Almost everyone interviewed for this article pointed to the need for systemic change across the music industry, from rethinking how royalties are paid by streaming services to expanding public finance for artists. With that said, leaving broadcasts led to a more meaningful everyday experience of music.
Jeff Tobias, musician and composer finally pulled the plug on Spotify for good in early 2022 as the company made headlines for its deal with podcaster Joe Rogan, has an approach to listening without streaming and is uncomplicated: Recordings, Audiobooks, Bandcamp, Mixcloud. When it comes to spotting, recommendations come from friends, Bandcamp editorials, and things he encounters at his job while working at a local record store. “It’s almost a pre-internet-style affair with music,” he says. “I’m going back to thinking, ‘Oh, I wonder what this album looks like’ until I take responsibility for really looking for it.”
“I love music because it is a community art practice,” he adds. “And anything I can do that allows me to listen to music in a way that connects me with either artists or my friends, and that’s what I want to be involved in. Spotify and streaming in general have absolutely nothing to do with that.”
Wendy Eisenberg, a musician and teacher who recently deleted his Napster Music (formerly Rhapsody) account, said: “The only thing I’ve noticed since stripping is that the music sounds better to me because I set it up to either locate it on my hard drive or download it from a friend’s Bandcamp. Or something like that. And every time I listen to it, even if it’s on my way to work, I can hear a spiritual disrespect for that choice. And so I don’t feel like I’m receiving music from a distant tasting maker. But I seem to have something to do with music, ritual, where I came to her as a practicing musician.
“Taking the extra step of uploading it to my phone, or the extra step of flipping the tape, or putting the CD in the car, it feels like I’m doing it, not something I’m getting,” they continued. “And that sense of efficacy makes me a more dedicated and engaged listener of the kind of passive listening — without the listening that used to make me do it.”
Lethem reports something similar: She now mostly listens to recordings, Bandcamp downloads, and a small radio she puts in her kitchen. “The options are very limited. But it is actually liberating. [With streaming] There is endless access, but you don’t really listen to anything. At least that’s how I’m starting to feel for me. I struggle with a lot of music, but do I really listen to any of it? “
DIY Discovery: Six ways to find new music…
Chad de Souza
Online Music Store bandcamp It is a major revenue driver for many artists, taking a tiny fraction of sales compared to streaming services. For fans and listeners, the Bandcamp Daily blog is a treasure trove of indie gems and artifacts, spend a few hours researching other user profiles or the site’s Discover function is always sure to produce a new favorite or two.
A great way to often discover new music is to send a message in your favorite group chat: “What has everyone been listening to lately?” Even if your friends have the same taste as you, there is bound to be some sort of variance, and often these small differences are where you’ll pick up the kind of path the algorithm can never show you.
Your local record store
There are few better ways to find new music than just going to your local record store, telling the clerk at the office what you want, and asking what they recommend. If you’re shy, don’t worry: Many stores have a department that picks employees to search.
It’s easy to get paralyzed by the repetitive cycles of streaming services. Online radio stations like NTSFM Radio, The Lot and Hope St offer exceptionally tailored and personalized radio programs that are often surprisingly good. Heavy hitters like NTS have multiple channels and deep archives; Newer, more self-executing processes may only have incomplete, hyper-accurate streams and no tracklists. Either way, it’s a great way to hear something you haven’t heard before.
Musicians can often make the best recommendations, and even if you don’t have most pop stars on speed dial, interviews are usually the next best thing. a Björk . profileFor example, it may lead you to the two wild tech experiments side projectwhile a podcast chat Between Charli XCX and Rina Sawayama can lead you to discover your new favorite singer.
If the Spotify algorithm is designed unarmored, The YouTube Shockingly loose. You never know what will happen next when you listen to music on YouTube (which many people, especially among Gen Z, use as their only streaming service). Sometimes it will be another song by the same artist, other times it will be something extraordinarily improbable, like This 1994 performance from Fade Into You This, for about a year, has been ubiquitous in many people’s algorithms. Either way, it’s a journey.