No matter where you are on your device, every move is being processed and logged by algorithm engines.
Algorithms can be defined as a set of rules that collect and analyze data from a user. Apps such as Spotify, SoundCloud, and Tik Tok have search engine algorithms in them that string together the content that you’ve watched and listened to. A person’s activity on these apps creates a bubble where all your personal opinions and preferences are tracked. You’re listening to a song on Spotify and five minutes later, Spotify has already created a playlist with related song recommendations, daily mixes and weekly music playlists. There are some pros and cons to this digitally created musical bubble.
When algorithms select a variety of different songs and artists, all depending on the popularity and hits, certain songs and artists sometimes don’t fit or can’t be put together with the way the algorithm works and are then pushed away from the suggested content batch. Artists and creators produce their art to be experienced in a certain way; each word and phrase has the artist own meaning behind it. The algorithms can push out other artist content, ruining the purity of the artist’s music.
Some worry that the rise of algorithm recommendation engines is training us to digitally select content. An interesting view on how the algorithms have “taken our personal tastes hostage” is from an article in the Observer.com. The article, written by James Cole (CEO and founder of H Collective), explores how because of these apps, we’ve lost connection to the art itself. “For a lot of us, part of what we love about finding the perfect accessory or discovering an undiscovered band is the thrill of “The Hunt”.
Cole has a point in that technology is affecting our personal connection to the artists and the music. The thrill of “The Hunt” includes going into shops, searching and discovering the perfect album, CD or Disc. The cover art is personalized by the artists themselves; CD’s often included narratives of the processes that went into creating the music. Now you download a song with just the click of a button. The algorithm then gives you more and more content for you to listen to and be put in your library, but sometimes people don’t even know who they are listening to and downloading: “I like that song! Who is it?” “I don’t know, I just downloaded it from Spotify.” Cole has some great advice to break the cycle of random clicks without the relationship to the artist. “As our different tastes and preferences further separate and the distance between us compounds, our best chance is to violate the very algorithms that are herding us.” – James Cole
Others, however, are not so concerned about algorithms and how they track your every move. They are viewed as a technology that helps with creating mixes and playlists, giving the listener related tracks and more songs and artists to listen to.
No matter where you stand on the debate, it’s all good because we’re talking about music! “The Hunt” will always be on because the love for music will always be on and because ultimately you always have a choice over what music you listen to, whether it’s sent to you or you discover it yourself!