May 3, 2017

When we let algorithms ‘Discover’

This band, “Houndmouth”, represents everything I hate about “indie” music.

Long hair, torn flannels. Hats with very wide brims. A nostalgia for the good ol’ days of train hopping and blacksmithery.

But what disturbs me even more is that … I can’t stop listening to their songs.

I—I don’t know why I like them.

But … Spotify does.

First, for those of you who are still listening to cassette tapes, Spotify is basically an app that gives users access to a music library of millions of songs.

One of its signature features is called “Discover.” Discover uses computer algorithms to suggest songs it thinks you’ll like based on data they collect about you. Data like what you listen to, and when and where — like in the morning or on your way to work. They know your age, even where you live.

That may sound precise, but what are we losing when it’s a computer telling us what to listen to, and not actual humans — our friends?

CREDITS:

REPORTER: Reis Thebault
MUSIC: "On the Road" by Houndmouth, "Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star, "Cold Blood" by Josiah & The Bonnevilles, "Monsters Calling Home" by Run River North, "Ends of the Earth" by Lord Huron.
PHOTO CAPTION & CREDIT: Spotify is homogenizing our taste in music. Illustration courtesy of Jurgen Appelo

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