Playlists Impact on Listening to Music; Past, Present, and Future

By the age of 10, my 13-year-old sister had learned how to burn a collection of some of her favorite songs on a CD. Some of these included 90’s hits by The Goo Goo Dolls, Oasis, The Smashing Pumpkins, later 90’s hits by Brittany Spears, Smash Mouth, Brandy, and early 2000’s songs from Madonna, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and No Doubt. By the time I was 13, I had my first nano iPod with a combination of 70’s rock hits that my Dad constantly played when I was a kid and newer tunes that came out during that year. Now the latest way to replicate this is by either making your own playlist on iTunes or collaborating on a playlist with friends over Spotify. It wasn’t something I really thought in depth about until reading an article posting on Pitchfork titled “How Playlist Are Curating the Future of Music” by Marc Hogan. This article highlights the importance playlist have played on how people listen to music now a days.

Streaming and downloads are two of the biggest ways consumers listening to tunes. Besides the radio, people tend to find out about new music through two very specific resources; 1) by listening to suggested tunes from either friends or something they look up to on music choices like DJs and 2) Using apps or searching playlists that make categories based upon feelings, moods or an activity.

Like I mentioned early, the beauty of consumer created playlist is that it still values older music yet gives the creator the freedom they want to mix around tunes without having to listen to only one album by a certain artist. Another major importance this brings to the table is how companies can cater to their consumers with customized playlists to fit every action they take on in a given day. As simplistic as it sounds, it takes hours upon hours of experience and cultured music lovers to make these playlists as well as study their users everyday listening patterns. Some people have even gained huge followings from putting together playlists as a side hobby on sites such as Spotify, and Mixcloud.

The negative side effect of moving to playlist based listening habits is that it is harder for listeners to gain stronger connections with individual artists. On the upside, many unknown artist now have the chance to be heard. In the past Lorde and Hozier were found on, Napster co-founder, Sean Parker’s Hipster International playlist at the start of their careers, and even more recently, OMI’s song “Cheerleader” surfaced after appearing on Spotify playlists across the board earning him the #1 spot on U.S. Hot 100 charts.

If playlist continuing to become the way in which we listen to music, the industry must find a way to help artists, new and old, gain individual value through the use of playlists while still allowing customers to have a more hands on approach to the songs they listen to.

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