To tell you the truth, my appetite for discovering new music’s always been rather limited – I’m more than happy to listen to the same song over and over again until I inevitably get sick of it and move on to something else. Though my repertoire’s pretty varied – I’ll listen to most things, from Smashmouth to Beyonce – at the end of the day I’m more than happy to stick to that repertoire, with little incentive to move beyond Youtube playlists and a handful of iTunes purchases.
That is, until I started writing my thesis.
I’m the sort of person who likes listening to instrumental music when I’m writing, but there are only so many times you can listen to the same three soundtrack compilations on Youtube. So, turning to Spotify to meet my music needs seemed like the next logical step, as I’d been using the platform half-heartedly over the past couple of years (the only reason I signed up for an account in the first place was to listen to Coldplay’s demos). However, this more frequent usage has come hand-in-hand with an exponential increase in my exposure to commercials on Spotify.
For the most part, the ads have been more amusing than annoying; they’ve ranged from “work for the Ministry of Defence!” to “subscribe to Spotify Premium today!”. This past Halloween there was a particularly memorable one that saw my calm, instrumental music transition into spooky, menacing laughter without so much as a warning. Seeing as I’ve neither quit my BA nor stopped receiving the ads, it’s safe to say the “generic” Dutch Spotify ads have slightly missed the mark.
But there has been a Spotify ad that’s caught my attention and left me wanting more. This came about in the form of a catchy song snippet that broke the soft piano tones of Alexis Ffrench’s Bluebird. The bass-heavy hook and smokey vocals were overlaid with the lead singer’s voice inviting listeners to “check out our new single”. That band was Editors, the song was the capstone of their best hits album, Black Gold, and I was obsessed. Not only did I listen to the entirety of Black Gold, I binged listened to a bunch of their songs and now have their sixth studio album, Violence, playing on repeat.
I know nothing about Spotify’s ad algorithms, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that the band’s advertisement was targeted at me based on my geolocation (you need to select a country if you want to use Spotify). They’ve performed at some of the Netherlands’ most popular festivals in the past, such as Best Kept Secret, Lowlands, and Pinkpop, they’ve held concerts in Amsterdam, and they’ll be performing in The Hague as part of their Black Gold tour (and I’ll probably be getting tickets for that particular concert). However, I’m glad that I was on the receiving end of that ad – something I never thought I’d say – because it led me to discover a fantastic band that I’ve fallen completely in love with, whom I’d never have listened to otherwise. These are the type of ads that I don’t quite mind: non-personalised and non-intrusive ones that come up with products that I’m actually interested in.
And yet, the irony of the situation – I’ve listened to all of Editors’ stuff on their official Youtube channel and not on Spotify because I wanted an uninterrupted listening experience (and that’s so much easier to facilitate on Youtube, because of AdBlock). Truth be told, I don’t see Spotify becoming my go-to streaming service any time soon, because I just don’t see myself using it regularly enough to splurge on a premium account. I’ll remain on the free version, braving the Ministry of Defence’s relentless advertisements and hoping that the ad algorithm will reveal another gem of a band in time.