On Spotify, control and creativity

1981. Called the local radio station to request Urgent by Foreigner. When it hit the airwaves, I did a cartwheel to celebrate my newfound power (I was twelve).
2011. Tried out Pandora. It presumed that because I listen to Peter Gabriel, I might want to hear from a lesser-known artist named Phil Fucking Collins.
Delete App.
When I first used Spotify, it didn’t even have Peter Gabriel. It did, however, allow me to make a playlist of every album recorded by Fleetwood Mac, chronologically. (You really need to hear the first one.) When I make my own playlist, I’m creating. I’m grabbing colors from my palette and making something new. Now, I’m the DJ. I find Billboard’s Hot 100 for every year and play each song, in order, every day. I scrounge around looking for the first rock ‘n’ roll song. (No two agree on this, but now I have a playlist of contenders.)
Spotify still tries to show me things I might like. The best of these is Discover Weekly. It takes the tracks I’ve played, throws them into a blender and makes me a playlist. 90% of the songs are spot-on. The others are based on songs I was playing for other people. If I play the worst songs of all time as a joke, Spotify’s algorithms only know what I played, not why I played them. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Are the other “Made for You” lists really made for me? 
Clicked on Daily Wellness. First track: Here’s your Daily Wellness….” Second track: “Welcome to your Tuesday Wind Down…we can slow down the incessant need to go off on wild adventures….”
They did it. Spotify hit a trifecta of things I hate: redundancy, pointless narrators, and someone telling me to wind down. I’m pro-yoga, meditation, all that stuff. It’s just that when I do yoga, I call it stretching and I listen to TOOL.
Author’s note: By 2019, both Peter Gabriel and TOOL were added to Spotify.

Phil F. Collins

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