Music is certainly something we take for granted these days. Remember the days when if you liked a song you’d have to get in your car or walk to your local music store to buy either the CD or tape. But first you’d have to find it in the shelves, you’d have to see if they had the single on CD (obviously cheaper) or buy the album and hope you like the other songs by that artist. Then it became a case of logging onto your computer and hopping onto iTunes and just buying each individual song or Album, much easier. These days, you simply sign-up once for a streaming service whether that be Apple Music, Google Play Music, Spotify, Amazon Prime Music or whatever. The next step after that is literally listening to whatever song you want whenever you want… obviously within the constraints of release dates, but if you’ve heard it on the radio, it more likely than not out on one of the streaming services.
However, music is evolving once again. Not only have we regressed to just paying a monthly fee and getting whatever we want from going to a shop to buy the single but now we’re expecting these services to know what sort of music we like and queuing it up in a playlist on our way to work or whilst we exercise. That’s a lot to ask, but something that a lot of the biggest music streamers are giving you.
For example, if you use Google Play Music, it will note the time of the day, the day of the week, the season etc and will give you a few recommended playlists to play. For example, if it’s Saturday morning in the summer, it’ll give you the “Summer Shower Playlist” which will include a load of upbeat, dance songs for you to enjoy. In addition, they offer you the ability to listen to Radio Stations based on the songs you’ve already got on your music. For example, if you choose a bit of Rihanna, you’ll hear similar things from Nicki Minaj or Beyonce or Tay Tay that sound fairly similar. You get the idea.
Spotify have recently introduced the ability to have a feature in which it knows when you’re running and begins to pick music with a faster beat to it to give you motifivation which is also something very innovative. You already have your playlists on Spotify for such activities but for it to automatically update your playlist to accomodate for the activity that you’re performing is something that is very exciting for the eventual future of the smart playlist we’re heading for.
There’s no doubt that Apple, Spotify, Google and Pandora are all working to bring the idea of music discovery to people’s phones tablets and computers with ease. With Pandora, it’s already well known that it will play songs using clever algorithms based on your music choices and this is what drives people to the service in their millions. Except there’s then lesser choice on playing music individually or selecting adiditional playlists other than curated ones.
The question is will there ever be a day when we can request a playlist on one of these services to deliver us music that we like and will recieve music we’ve already heard and music we’ve not heard before and enjoy it all? That’s something that really can’t be a given. You say to yourself “I like David Guetta…but I don’t like that song of his no.” This is a prime example of where these sorts of trends may go wrong. Now, don’t get me wrong, these companies may be clever enough to be working out algorithms as to why we don’t like that song but we do like his other songs. Is it the pitch of the lyrics? Is it the BPM? Is it just that it contains words that you don’t generally enjoy hearing? There’s all sorts of questions that the algorithms will question when you hit skip or dislike or however these apps intend to implement more reactive responses to music in the future.
Playlists are the future of music, there’s no doubt about that. A service that know what activity we’re doing or where we are and then offers us playlists that best suit that situation or change the next song on our playlist automatically is something we all dream of. Spotify and Google Play Music have taken the first step into this by offering us slightly context-aware playlists. However, they don’t yet encorporate Pandora’s high level of intelligent algorithms to play songs we actually like along with the contextually-aware capabilities too. One day, we will turn on our service, hit play and no matter where we are or what we’re doing our phone will play a song we like to replicate that situation contextually. We hope anyway…