Just recently, Apple introduced users to a new and improved song-matching feature on Apple Music. This utilizes a music pairing algorithm very similar to iTunes Match. The new and improved Apple Music will also feature audio fingerprinting, allowing listeners a more personalized and accurate array of related music they may be interested in. However, with this new threshold in music technology, the audience takes another step away from the authenticity of the artist.
Major music streaming services mostly offer some sort of recommended playlist that caters to an individual’s musical taste. Whether you’re on Tidal or Spotify, you’ll likely encounter a music pairing feature that shows highlighted tracks “hand-picked” for you. If you like hip-hop, you’ll get Kanye. If you enjoy alternative, you’ll be met with some Coldplay, and so on and so forth. With the click of a mouse, you’ll be exposed to a plethora of related tracks based on what you have already listened to. Suggested music is a great and efficient way to branch out and explore more music of a genre, but it does have its fallbacks.
The artists’ intentions are most likely to provide the general public with their interpretation on a certain issue or topic. Take Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for example. The Seattle-based hip-hop duo always preach on hot button issues that run through the fabric of America, ranging from white privilege to gay rights and even thrifty spending. The way the music is intended to be consumed is through a cohesive art project, otherwise known as an album. Digital downloads or a referral from Spotify or Pandora do not quite translate the same message that it otherwise would have if played in its entirety.
Furthermore, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis identified their entire Grammy-winning album from 2012, The Heist, as a music experience rather than a series of tracks. This was achieved through the presentation of the record, not just individual songs. They advertised that the deluxe version came with a unique snakeskin box and individualized artwork for every song on the album. Most importantly, the album wanted to showcase all the people behind the project, ranging from producers to musicians. This was the artist’s way to provide a personality and style to form a complete project. Sure, you can bob your head to a few of his tracks that are suggested on music platforms, but the meaning is lost in translation here.
Although online music streaming sites are a direct and easy way to access a large population, it detracts from the authenticity and genuine nature of purchasing a physical copy of the album. A simple digital download requires a click of the mouse whereas the acquisition of a record is a musical experience. The artist’s heart and passion on the tracks are lost here as well.
As music streaming companies are finding new and innovative ways to provide more content to a growing audience, they are leaving behind major cornerstones of artists’ work. This leaves music segmented from its cohesive, complete project and detracts from the artists’ thorough message.