piers & bob on playlists

gurdonark on playlists:

so much of music corporate culture depends on the water-cooler-sharing experience of mobs of buyers. what if music were shared one track at a time, among small groups, even in little parlor settings?

i personally never want to listen to anyone’s playlist, but i love to get a single song to hear.

I love browsing my friends’ collections, and I always associate my discoveries with the people who introduced me to them. It makes the music more flavorful.

It also reflects back on the friendship. “Do I like this person’s taste?” is a proxy for “Do I like this person?”

I haven’t really enjoyed people’s playlists since the Webjay days, though. Since then my interest has been more in Audioscrobbler-style voyeurism.

Piers sez:

When I was first involved in campus radio years ago, I was annoyed that the station supplied a playlist because this seemed “corporate” – but then I realized that the playlist was maintained by a community whose concern was to make sure that artists meeting the station’s mandate didn’t get overlooked.

Again, this was process, not product.

IMHO, publishing a “playlist” as an act of canonization is MUCH more important than as an act of “sharing” – I think there is something to be lost in conflating the two ideas.

In that sense the playlist is less about expression and more about data. It says “here are the items in the set.” The set is a tribal thing. Belonging to the set means that you are a member of the tribe.

3 thoughts on “piers & bob on playlists

  1. > my interest has been more in Audioscrobbler-style voyeurism.

    I have no stats to back this but this sounds exactly right; that last.fm is the last playlist – dynamic as it is – that seems to matter to more than a tiny specialized community (all due deference to mog)

  2. To push it into the social realm, “will *you* like this person’s taste” is also a reasonable proxy for “will *you* like this person.”

    I follow a number of people on twitter because of @lotd (lyric of the day), and even though I don’t know them *at all* and *likely never will*, I give credence to their opinions because they have similar musical taste to my own. And I suppose if I *did* have to make a friendships with these people, we already have common ground.

    I remember an interview with either Robert Smith or Siouxsie many years back (can’t remember which), talking about the hair thing. The gist was, you find yourself in a strange town, you identify your tribe and you find safety.

  3. My experience matches yours on the audio-scrobbler. Last.fm is the one place in which I check out what people hear on their scrobble playlists, to learn about new artists.

    i also find that last.fm is better than worlds of self-promotion when it comes to getting listeners for my own work. I find people here there and yon listen to me via that service.

    Remember when one read Trouser Press or Creem to find music to try?
    One read a review and then one bought the record, largely because the reviewer said “sounds like x” but sometimes because the reviewer “sounds like nothing you ever heard before’. I don’t remember a negative review being a deal-killer nor a positive reviewer being a religious conversion. It was all about the style and the sense of the moment.

    As a young teen, we all went one better. Lisa Robinson’s “rock scene” magazine was out when i was 13 or 14 or 15 or so. This was an amazing magazine–black and white pictures of unsigned and barely-signed NY bands. One read there about bands one could not buy–early Television, early Ramones, Wayne/Jayne County, Talking Heads. One became a fan of bands from text. What an ephemeral, wonderful thing–to love a sound that one has heard only in print.

    Now, you can play the track on last.fm, or hear it on pandora, or even just download it from a netlabel, all without violating anyone’s rights.

    A puzzle: I listen to last.fm and never have trouble finding things to hear.
    I subscribe to emusic and always delay and debate what to buy with my
    35 or so credits. The only reviews I consistently read are in Gramophone, and yet I never buy those reviewed works at all. They just help me learn and think.

    I have a friend with great musical taste who posts box.net playlists of her favorite tracks. She likes great stuff, but I never want to listen to tracks
    except through properly licensed ways of doing things. Besides, I’d rather she say to her friends ‘listen to this great song, it matters to me” rather than “here’s 15 tracks on this theme”. But with her tastes and other friends and strangers’ tastes, I’ll delightedly look at their last.fm scrobble, and pick and choose and enjoy.

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