“My name’s Chris and I’m a Spotiholic.”
Music provides a soundtrack to our lives and, oddly, an aide memoir to events that are important to us. I’ll bet you have memories like that — all it takes is a few bars of that song and you’re instantly transported back to your first date, the birth of your first child or your sister’s wedding reception. I’m from England and a few years ago the BBC series The Rock ‘n’ Roll Years capitalised on this phenomenon, combining archive footage of major UK and world events with pop hits of the same period. It’s amazing how this combination helped the viewing figures: many more than news history or music alone. A case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.
My own musical history is long-haired and leather-clad. I just turned 50, so my teenage years are far behind me in the late ’70s, but Heavy Metal has remained at the core of my listening habits despite my taste having widened considerably — along with my waistline. None of the hundreds of LPs I had as a teenager are still in my possession. I’m pretty sure there’s a box or two under the piano at my Dad’s house but the rest evaporated over the years through breakages and unreturned loans.
Today I have an iPod and teenage kids of my own.
I must have spent a small fortune on iTunes over the last few years and my music library is a mixture of ’70s rock favourites like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin and more recent artists like Michael Bublé and Lady GaGa. It’s large, it’s varied, and I love it, but in spite of that there’s something missing.
The main reason I joined Spotify was so I could listen to some of the music my nineteen-year-old son is into, without having to buy it. I want to understand his musical tastes and try to bridge the generation gap but I can’t bring myself to fork out £10 for a Death Metal CD. Spotify’s online subscription model fills this void perfectly. For £10 per month my Premium account gives me unlimited, ad-free access to their immense online library of ten million tracks, and I can even download whatever I want to my iPod and combine it with music that I own. I can now dip my toe in the waters of Avenged Sevenfold (and pull it sharply out again with a shudder) or take a sip of Slipknot whenever I feel like it.
It was then that the floodgates opened…
“Ooh, I wonder if they have anything by Starz…” YES!
“Surely not Starcastle!?” YES AGAIN!
“THE TUBES?” OH YEAH!
The more I searched the more I found that pretty much everything I had on vinyl in the ’70s is there, sitting in the cloud, just waiting for the mood to take me. Every Kiss album, every Ted Nugent album, every… well, I’m sure you get the idea.
I felt like a dog let off its leash in a big park, and I bounded from artist to artist and album to album, panting with excitement. I had just calmed down from the realisation that I now have all my old music back when I realised that I didn’t have to stop there, and I then proceeded to belatedly discover all that ’70s rock music that my non-conformist streak had prevented me from liking when I was 16 — just because my friends liked it first. Yes, Genesis, Todd Rundgren, Rush. It’s all there in the Spotify Nebula, and more.
There aren’t enough hours in the day for the catching up I want to do. iTunes will continue to get fat on my movie and app purchases, but I think I may have bought my last album.
Thinking of growing my hair long again…