Monday, 9 January 2012

I Care a Lot

This post was meant to be published around the new year; the heat prevented that from happening. Now it's a case of better late than never.

Back in high school there was a Phil Collins song I quite liked, "I Don't Care Anymore". I liked it for two fairly obvious reasons: the drums' track was impressive (I always liked Collins for his drumming much more than his singing), and the lyrics. I mean, hardly anything can capture the heart of a teenager better than "I don't care anymore". The funny thing about this song, though, was that I was only able to listen to it a couple of times or so; back then, it was very hard/expensive to listen to specific music at will.
Today things are different. Today the Internet allows me to listen to music almost at will, and the embedded YouTube clip of that very song is proof. However, 2011 proved a breakthrough even there: through Spotify, I am now able to expand my musical horizons in unprecedented manner and in significantly better quality than what YouTube is allowed to offer.
As a result, Spotify has been providing the soundtrack for my life since April 2011 (plus/minus), when I first opened an account with them. I disconnected the MP3 player from my hi-fi and replaced it with an old netbook that's running Spotify and nothing else, and that netbook has been working a lot: even my four year old knows that the first thing a decent human being does upon arriving home is turning the music on. Indeed, Spotify has been with us wherever we had an Internet connection: you can say it's been an integral part of our wifi hotspot experience, illuminating us with its music while tripping around the world as well as while vacationing in Australia. Other than during car drives, virtually all our music was supplied by Spotify. For the first time in more than a decade, the decline of music in my life has been reversed. Due to Spotify's fault, music is back to playing a key role in my and my household's life.
When looking at the impact technology has had on my life, I had dubbed 2010 as the year in which the ebook came into my life. In similar fashion, I dub 2011 as the year in which music reentered my life, and most of the credit there has to go to Spotify.
There is more to the connection between the ebook and the music revolutions than personal revolutions. In both cases, we are talking about revolutions I was not meant to have. If it wasn't for me using VPN to pretend I am an American, I wouldn't have been able to access the majority of science fiction and other books I bought for my Kindle; similarly, if it wasn't for me using VPN, I wouldn't have been able to access Spotify, whose services are currently limited to several European countries and the USA. At business school you learn the customer is always right and you need to give them the product they are asking for, but that rule does not apply for the contents industries: as far as they are concerned, we (and Aussies in particular) should live by the old rule for as long as possible. Who cares if people don't get the books they want to read or the music they want to listen to when the powers that be can stick to their old business models and pretend the year is still 1970?
This semi cheating of mine worries me, because whatever Spotify gaveth it can also taketh away. As I don't hold an American credit card with which I can get a paid Spotify account (called "Premium"), I am relying on Spotify's free services. Those free services are supposed to be limited to strict quotas as of the second month, including up to two hours of music listening per month and not listening to the same album more than twice. To date, Spotify is yet to impose those limits on me despite my extensive use of their services. I like to flatter myself and think they know exactly who I am and they allow me to continue using their unlimited product because of the good publicity I give them on my blog, but then again who am I kidding?
When, eventually, my account is limited I will immediately start a new one. I do, however, hope Spotify will finally start operating locally and allow me to use its services above the water. When that happens, the whole of Australia can enjoy what I have been enjoying for the better part of a year. Music can reenter the lives of many others who found themselves homeless since the demise of the CD format.

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