Apple vs Spotify1: Machine listening and Potential Brainwashing.

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Early last Spotify spent a reported $100 million to acquire The Echo Nest, the music data company started by Brian Whitman. In an attempt to reposition themselves in the wake of real competition from Apple Music, Spotify are now attempting to find new ways of positioning themselves within the ‘machine listening‘ market. So – we now have Fresh Finds as part of the Spotify Package. Fresh Finds aims to identify unknown artists that are generating interest amongst industry movers and shakers – although at the moment the general public won’t know about them – a sort of a machine code A&R service !

“Fresh Finds is a distillation of the hippest users on Spotify,” says Whitman,  “These are the artists that are going to break out soon because they’re being listened to by these people.”

So this type of service is not aiming to generate music you already like – but what you may like!

Spotify also recently started their ‘Discover Weekly’ service – which is a more personalised service = essentially giving you music that it calculates you will like.

I a currently a month into a three month Apple Music trial – and have decided to compare both services carefully before deciding why way to go. I was originally thinking of going down the Apple Music route – but I am now going to make my mind up after careful comparison.

So – i am going to spend the next couple of days checking out both Fresh Finds and Discover Weekly, before comparing to Apple Music. I would be interested in anyones views –  either here of via Facebook etc.

One closing point about machine generated content – which as been around for a long time now. Is there not a danger that we are been told what to like by the new superpowers of music listening? Are we not in danger of machines actually subliminally telling us what we like – this could be an excellent tool that I would imagine record companies would be happy to pay for.

About Paul Carr

Academic working at the University of Glamorgan
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