Music consumption in the streaming era: Music curation practices in Spotify
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Streaming affords on-demand access to a large music collection stored on a remote server, allowing music listening on any connected device without resorting to downloading. For a long time, music consumption was limited to what was sold in stores or promoted by mass media. The spread of online communication removed many physical barriers and reduced access and distribution costs, allowing for patterns of consumption restricted not only to hits but likewise open to less popular items. In this context, curation - which can be done by humans or machines, through the use of algorithms - serves as a form of abundance and super accessibility management on streaming services. Results of in-depth interviews conducted with 20 Spotify users in Brazil, articulated with data collected from their digital listening practices (using an automated online service – IFTTT), shows how ease of access encourages practices of music discovery and promotes a more diversified and fragmented consumer experience. Playlists are often used as mechanisms of musical discovery, collection and identity formation, being one of the main changes fostered by streaming. This study also demonstrates that algorithmic curation, although constantly improved, still does not replace human curation mainly due to its greater predictability and limited ability to understand contextualized practices, tastes and expectations of listeners.
Music,Streaming,Playlists,Content Curation,Music Discovery