Streamers control the music industry with their choices of music

The Rise and Fall of Music: Paul Johnson’s Journey from Spotify to the Edge of the Streaming Era to the Next Generation of Music Platforms

The streaming era gave rise to one of the rare moments in recorded music when power flowed in the direction of the artists. Although it was an economically disastrous time for many of them, the democratization brought by digital technologies and the internet also finally forced record labels to reform abuses they’d carried off for decades.

His first playlisting shot him from a few thousand streams a day to 20,000, and later, as his music landed more and more spots, to hundreds of thousands. Thanks to this exposure he’s now making around $200,000 a year, mostly in royalties from streaming. That is great for Paul. But, like almost all successes in music, it’s a Horatio Alger story. Spotify wants you to believe the rags to riches transformation is due to hard work and talent when it actually requires a huge amount of luck. Ignoring that luck element illustrates how difficult it is for musicians to support themselves via streaming revenues—and how many hard working, talented people will be unable ever to do so.

The recorded music market is taking on its old shape of being at the center of the streaming platforms at the center. As they become even more powerful, streaming platforms are positioning themselves to the same extent as the music industry is organized to let labels scoop up much of the value of music.

The most dominant, like all of its competitors, plans to use its listening audience to launch a massive digital ad play that will make it a leader in the market. It pushes a bunch of names like Mood Booster, Happy Hits, Life Sucks, and Coping with loss to get a bunch of data that it uses to sell ads. But this is almost certainly a counterfeit claim: Like the rest of Big Tech, Spotify is better at selling advertisers the idea that it has a mind-control ray to make people buy stuff than it is at actually persuading people to buy stuff. The real money will come from the music streaming service. Paul Johnson and other artists got their break-out success thanks to the same playlists that gave them it.

The Power of AI DJs: How Humanize They Can Get? How Censorship Really Gets Lost in Your Deepest Neural Network

Even the best radio DJ can be hard to listen to. The nature of the job is what makes it unique. They break in between songs no matter how smooth their voice is. They remind you that they are in your life whenever and wherever you need them. They are friendly and familiar with humans, which makes them comforting.

The recent rise of generative AI has made some companies no longer content to just let their algorithms simmer in the background. They want to bring them to the forefront. Partly to show off and try to cash in on the current AI gold rush, but also, I think, in an effort to humanize their algorithms. They shove them into the spotlight to convince people the AIs are super chill, actually, and can hang with us meatsacks.

What’s even more unnerving is how cavalier it is about how much it knows about you. Like Spotify Wrapped, the AI DJ’s access to your personal data goes deeper than you may think a music service is capable of. X knows enough to play music from your past and guess the emotions that specific songs evoke from you. You can tell the AI to change the mood with the tap of a button, though the changes feel random, and it can take several taps before landing on something you vibe with. Even then, it’s learning still more about you, like where your headspace is at certain times of the day or based on your location. The quiet parts of the data collection is being said out loud in order to make it feel friendly. Say what you will about the DJ, but they are more than a reflection of yourself.

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