Krukowski is referring to the old-fashioned way of listening to music and how people used to discover new artists or songs by going to record stores where they could get recommendation from people who have knowledge about music and have strong opinions, or through magazines like Forced exposure. He describes how the digital world is affecting the way people find and listen to music. Throughout this podcast ” Ways of Hearing: Power,” Krukowski explains how powerful corporations have gained control over what we are exposed to.
Although the world is heading toward making everything digital, Krukowski questions the benefit. He wonders if preserving the traditional way of finding music or how we consume things could contribute more toward art and society itself by giving power and control back to consumers who can decide without any influence of big corporations.
Spotify, Pandora and other music streaming services are powerful, and use an algorithm to predict what music we might like. Everything is automatic, arranged, and is impersonal. However, marginalized music allows us to explore our interest by having to navigate as we walk in the record store, we can browse records physically, can surprise ourselves by finding something new. The music we pick becomes personal and spontaneous.
Krukowski admits how he likes going to a record store as he might “discover” something by chance or gain knowledge about music from the people who work there. Now that we get recommendations from Spotify, and other music streaming services, it introduces us to new artists or songs that do not “surprise” us since the music we hear is “similar” to what we are used to listening to. Due to the algorithm, it becomes a loop where we are constantly exposed to familiar music rather than “discovering” different music. When we go to a physical store, we make our own choice and independent decisions. We could end up discovering different music and surprise ourselves.
In Forced Exposure magazine, they are more passionate about music and listen to every song on an album before recommending it to their consumers. They carefully categorize the type of music and write in detail about every album. They leave it up to their consumers what kind of music they might like, but also recommend songs that they think are worth listening to. Based on the album information, music lovers can decide what they want to listen to. On the other hand, Spotify automatically arranges everything for us without us even participating in it. Their algorithm predicts what song we might like based on data, not on an individual listening to and recommending songs.