I read The Lefsetz Letter; I often find his comments useful when thinking about music and the music industry. I just finished a recent letter, “Apple Streaming”, and it inspired me to try Spotify Premium’s current “3 months for 99 cents” promotion.

The key insight wasn’t monumental, but he did lay things out more plainly than I’d seen other places. His point was to make the difference between “streaming radio” (like Pandora) and “streaming on demand” (like Spotify Premium, or Apple’s rumored upcoming service). His suggested use for Pandora is exactly what I use it for…background. I like radio-style services for background music; I pick a genre/artist/style, and while I don’t get to control things completely, if I don’t like a given song, it’s only a couple of minutes from being gone.

What I haven’t done in a long time is play large playlists of specific songs. And to be clear, I have a reasonable amount of music in Amazon Music (as well as backed up directly long ago straight into Amazon S3, in Google Music, and heck, probably in a couple of other places I’m not thinking about). And while I usually have the required app installed…the kicker that finally made me pull the Spotify trigger was how I built those libraries.

Back when I was “rip, mix, and burn“-ing, I used to worry about storage. As I ripped my CD collection (which was never huge in any case) I carefully picked out my absolute favorite tracks from each individual CD. (I believe the only discs I completely ripped were The Police’s “Message In A Box: The Complete Recordings”. Yeah, I’m one of those.) So while the playlists I can currently generate are pretty much full of songs I love, I did leave things on the table when I was making those decisions. There are many songs that I still have on CD (somewhere), that I really like, that I simply don’t have digital copies of.

Thus the reason for Spotify Premium. For the albums that they have available (and I’m getting good results so far), it’s one click to add the entire thing to my library, and start building playlists with songs that I like that I may not have heard for years. (Some of them I tracked down myself, some showed up in my Amazon library because I bought the CD there, but many had stayed orphaned on plastic discs…until today). Nothing amazing, of course…but I’m just not enough of a music lover to either rip or buy all these tracks. But if someone makes them available at a click (and a small sub, of course)…maybe!

Again, I like radio-type streams at times; as I said, background music. But I’ve got 3 months to play with Spotify this summer and enjoy custom playlists like I never have before. Will I keep it for ten bucks a month? Not sure yet…that’s what the experiment is for. But I’m looking forward to finding out. Thanks Lefsetz!

 

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