And other things we learned at the very first Spotify Talks.
If I could wear an “I *heart* music” shirt without getting strange looks from other music fans, I would. But then again, who doesn’t love music? We all came from winding cassette tapes with our fingers to burning personalized CDs in our community internet cafe to unknowingly committing potential crimes at the ripe age of nine.
Anyone past the age of 17 knows that Limewire was once the place to go for new music. That’s when the internet was new and the government didn’t know what to make of these file-sharing sites. Production houses and record labels realized that this method of sharing movies and music would soon spiral out of control. And so, it became illegal. Soon after, they filed a lawsuit against many of these sites — Napster being the most prominent, controversial one — and they regulated it.
This gave way to the birth of music streaming websites. The demand for consuming and sharing music online was so high that they saw an opportunity for it. The math is quite simple for this one: all the music in the world (for a minimal fee) plus a passionate online community equals a whole lot of fun.
This is where Spotify Talks comes in. The inaugural session held in Singapore last July 5 included Warner Music Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Korea president Calvin Wong; Spotify director of Artist & Label Services in Asia Pacific Chee Meng Tan; Spotify managing director in Asia Sunita Kaur; recording artist Linying and Kevin Foo; Foundation Music director and co-founder of Umami Records & Beep Studios. Spotify Talks is all about connecting the people behind the app, the artist, and the listeners to innovate a better experience in consuming music. The way advanced technology is today, even the panelists couldn’t help but reminisce over the early days of music.
Like everyone else in the room, I had a hard drive and an iPod (remember those?) dedicated to music alone. I had 13GB (a small amount compared to what I’m listening to now) worth of tracks that came from previous purchases and friends. The idea of having them at the touch of my fingertips was divine. Imagine having Elvis Presley’s and The Beatles’ entire discography without sacrificing any other essential albums. Heaven.
The wide selection and accessibility contributed a lot to the growth of Spotify. Streaming is unsurprisingly the music industry’s fastest growing revenue source with 57 percent growth during the first half of 2016. People are still buying physical albums and that’s an encouraging trend for the music industry. The concert scene is also in good shape considering that many international artists are covering more ground, visiting more countries. But it’s the social aspect of the music discovery experience that Spotify facilitates within its community.
Before the app arrived here, I used a site called Last.FM to check the libraries of my friends who I don’t see often. The site “scrobbles” our listens from different devices and makes a collective record of our listening habits. Nowadays, you can stalk your friends’ playlists, favorite albums and artists within the app. In the morning, I’d see them listening to the latest pop album (“Something to Tell You,” anyone?) while they prefer more mellow albums and playlists in the evening. When Spotify announced that the discographies of select OPM bands like Sugarfree and Hale were finally available, everyone pretty much listened to “Dramachine” and The Day You Said Goodnight for three days straight.
If you’ve been around the app long enough, you’ll recall that they only featured international tracks at the front page. Now, you’ll see playlists like Jeepney Joyride or #Hugot or Acoustic sa Tanghali. All of them include both international and OPM tracks. And these music and artists don’t just thrive locally. Artists like Ben&Ben, Jess Connelly, Kaye Cal, Leanne & Nara and Zack & Fritz are put on rotation in international Spotify playlists like Early Noise 2017. This is a good opportunity for the local music industry and these artists to introduce their music to more listeners all over the world.
I remember one conversation I overheard during dinner about Rivermaya. They were raving about You’ll Be Safe Here and how big of an impact it made on their teenage lives. Honestly, same. It struck me that even though the music that shaped us in the past has been overshadowed by newer artists and tracks, it doesn’t mean that the old music’s meaning will change. A new generation of teenagers will accompany their lives with new — and for some, the same — soundtracks that we probably did.
Music is a good reminder that we are all part of this collective experience that is being human, and Spotify is making it easier for us to remember.