I Scroll up and then scroll down. My thumb rotates endlessly clockwise then counterclockwise. Options seem limited, but all the classics, go-tos, and favorites are there. After some time, with a click of the center button, a song finally plays. It may not be the exact song I’m looking for, but it’s something. Way better than searching and searching and never picking anything.
Did that description before the video seem familiar? Remember what it was like to use a pre-iPhone/iTouch iPod?
With the iPod, I was the master of my library, I knew what was there – no surprises. Like a best friend, it was always around when I needed a companion. It was filled with my childhood favorites like Weird Al Yankovic’s Dare to be Stupid or Bad Hair Day. Many of the albums were from my older brother’s collection, like Linkin Park, Pink Floyd, and Gorillaz. The other half of my device was loaded with an array of hand-picked tracks downloaded via LimeWire.
I don’t have an iPod Classic anymore. Well, I have one, but it’s old and busted thanks to a deadbeat younger me not showing any respect. I should have treated it like a relic. Sure, I have iTunes on my iPhone, but I don’t have a music collection to call my own. Convenient music streaming services killed my need to have a library. Spotify made “legal” streaming easy, so why even bother ripping CDs or torrenting anymore?
Herein lies the fundamental issue with Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, iTunes Radio, and the other streaming services; music doesn’t feel personal anymore. When I was a kid, my listening was limited to the selection on my iPod or in my stack of CDs. Not so different from older Millennials with their CD and Cassette collections or the vinyl, 8-tracks, and cassettes of Gen-Xers before them. Having a finite selection means building a relationship with each album, track, and artist; it means knowing every track name by heart.With Spotify, the options are nearly endless. Whenever I’m in the car with friends, the designated DJ spins more silence than music because picking the right song to match the aesthetic, while also satisfying everyone, is impossible. The “recently played” or “recently searched” has become the library. Artists feel more like some guy I met at a party once.
I want to rebuild my library, but it’s harder than ever with even the most hardcore music pirates retiring and settling for Spotify. Looks like streaming is here to stay … Or is it? I suppose I could go underground and find a way into what.cd.