And a few thoughts on music streaming
Words and Header Art by MC Galang
For the latest volume of THIS SIDE, we decided to expand our selection to include homegrown releases unavailable on Spotify. This means, moving forward, we will be including a separate Soundcloud playlist for all subsequent volumes. Truth to be told, we can fill up an entire playlist of songs hosted on Bandcamp, too, if only the platform allows collation.
This might seem like a harmless hitch, but it reveals the disparity of not only the availability and accessibility of these streaming platforms, but also how each affect our listening habits. Spotify, for example, has hundreds of genre- and mood-based playlists curated by its own team of “editors.” However, placements in these highly sought-after playlists are not entirely based on, for all intents and purposes, “merit,” but many of which are due to big label/distributor push that not all musicians have resources to deploy. Not to mention, how these seemingly benign mood-based playlists have basically hijacked the way music is written (for many, at least) in order to be favored by Spotify editors and maybe become the next sleeper hit.
The result is, at least for Spotify Philippines, seeing the same artists over and over again in these “curated” playlists, day in and day out, churning out a vapid cycle of songs in Hugot and Chillax, among others. It’s reductive and lazy. And the sad thing is, we understand the appeal and, therefore, its power (streaming accounted for 80% of music revenue in 2019). For many people, it democratizes the consumption of music—especially for folks who don’t have the means to purchase music legally, or even have unlimited Internet connection. It made things dangerously easy and accessible. But where does that leave many artists? How does art square with algorithm and metadata?
Stream THIS SIDE and follow the playlist for regularly updated new finds from Filipino musicians. The playlist is refreshed with each new volume, so make sure you save your favorites!
Recommended reading: “Music streaming services mishandle our data—and our culture is paying for it” (via Quartz)