Spotify Premium Is the Best Life Hack of the Decade

Let’s go back to the end of the last decade. 2009: Long before the entertainment industry was dominated by streaming when you had to a) buy these items from an online store (like iTunes), b) buy them from a physical store (remember them?), Or c) dig in your roommate’s music library hoping they already had Kid A in mp3.

What a difference in 10 years! In 2019, streaming services have made our lives a lot easier – and I’d say better . Better to the extent that no other app or service has improved our lives in the last 10 years more than Spotify Premium, which is why I declare it the best life hack of the 2010s.

To truly appreciate the impact of music streaming on quality of life, let’s go back a decade. In 1999, CD sales reached an all-time high. Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys and NSYNC have sold millions of CDs and made tons of money. Then Napster came along, disrupting the record industry’s business model, followed in 2003 by the iTunes store, which facilitated the move from buying physical albums to downloading individual songs. And so we listened to music until 2011 – we bought mp3s for 99 cents (or $ 1.29 if it was a track with high demand), copied collections of CDs and saved mp3s of friends to a flash drive so that later they could sync with iPod. …

Then, in 2011, we were celebrated with the launch of Spotify in the US. The Swedish music streaming service offered a web player, desktop and mobile apps, a free tier (with unbearable ads) or a paid premium version. Spotify Premium is definitely worth it. It contains no ads and allows you to download albums or playlists to listen to offline.

In addition to becoming the standard for the ubiquitous “freemium” model today, and the convenience of listening anywhere, Spotify was unique in how much music it contained – almost anything you wanted to listen to. (Lots of Spotify supporters have been added to the library today, such as The Beatles, Prince, and Taylor Swift. At the time of this writing, the only artists I miss the platform a lot are Alia and Joanna Newsom.)

As with any good product, imitators soon followed. Tidal launched with famous exclusives from Jay-Z and his friends (but almost all of them made it to Spotify anyway). I think Amazon Music exists and Apple Music has officially replaced iTunes in 2019. But Spotify has remained the gold standard with carefully curated playlists that literally turn songs into hits, seamless cross-device syncing and social features that let you see which friends are listening to and add to collaborative playlists.

While the Best Life Hack of the Decade award may sound high, no other app or service has influenced what we do, how we do it, or our access to so much information at the same time. This has directly improved car travel, gym time, work, partying, flying, and walking down the street – virtually every moment of every day.

As with all new music formats (from vinyl albums to 8-track cassettes and CDs), the way we listen has changed what we listen to. Because Spotify counts “playing” as 30 seconds of listening, songs are shorter and clues appear earlier. We now have access to music from all over the world. Do you want to listen to Rosalia? Or BTS? Or Burna Boy? What was previously obscure is now just a click away.

While the platform certainly takes into account individuality, it actually does a better job of measuring our collective listening habits. Since Billboard includes streaming numbers in the charts, we have a more accurate estimate of what we are listening to at any given time (a significant improvement over physical sales reports and radio broadcasts), resulting in hits from unexpected locations such as memes, YouTube videos or participating in Netflix movies.

Speaking of music in films, let’s not forget the importance of Shazam (which launched in 2008, but still). If you hear the song anywhere , you can now instantly identify it and open it directly in Spotify or Apple Music. This is how Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” became a number one hit two and a half years after its release. Or how Robin’s “Dancing By Itself” (the best song of the decade in my opinion) gained a wider audience after it was featured on the 2013 episode ” Girls” .

Of course, some artists have done better by specifically opposing the Spotify system. Beyoncé’s 2013 self-titled album was released unexpectedly and could only be bought as a full-fledged “visual album,” and her follow-up 2016 album Lemonade premiered on HBO. When Prince died in 2016, none of his music was available on the streaming platform, which forced fans to buy his music, which resulted in him holding half of the top 10 positions on the Billboard 200 a week after his death. (Since then, the Prince’s estate has allowed his music to be available on Spotify. But these exceptions only demonstrate the dominance of Spotify in our daily lives – only a select few superstars can take people away, and then only for a short time.)

It’s worth noting that Spotify isn’t great for artists financially. They receive far less royalties than radio broadcasts or traditional sales. On the other hand, Spotify allows artists to do much more than convince local radio to play their songs. It only accepts one track to be featured on Rap Caviar’s wildly popular playlist to launch a new rapper superstar, and once they reach a fan, there is money from concert tickets, merchandise and licensing rolls. So, yes, artists make less money from streaming, but it’s easier for listeners to find artists they want to support.

How did all this music sound in 2010? The first half of the decade was definitely defined by the EDM beats permeating pop songs (see We Found Love or Yeezus ), but five is a little more difficult to define. Hip-hop has dominated both commercially and critically, and the theme of capricious young women is undeniably present (Lord, Billie Eilish). But the main characteristic of this decade’s music was the artist as an author. (In fact, 18 of the top 20 Pitchfork albums in a decade are from solo artists.) While the direct cause of this phenomenon is difficult to pinpoint (perhaps the lower-royalty split has something to do with this), solo dominance is leveling off. with how people listen on the platform. Because we consumers can find whatever we want to listen to, perhaps artists feel that they no longer need to compose music for the masses and look inward to create what they like (see Anti Rihanna ).

So how is a music app a life hack? It makes our life better and easier. Nearly all modern recorded music is at your fingertips when you want to run a mile, prepare a delicious meal, or prepare to go outside without worry or anxiety. I hope this year some college freshman reading the best lists of the 2010s will understand how easy it is now to get a musical education, from postmodern jazz Kamasi Washington to Todd Terrier’s disco and Angel Olson’s ghost folk. any time. Now we can have more fun. We can find what we really like, not just what is available.


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