Music Discovery; My Problem With Algorithms

Pretty much all you read about today in the music world is how new technology is shaping our tastes as if that’s the golden ticket in music discovery. Well, for me it’s not as easy as that.

As new platform ‘Beats’ apparently asks you ‘what do you like?’ and ‘what don’t you like?’ it grieves me to think that this is the deciding factor on how to discover music. I suppose it works if you are a robot.

I remember when I walked into a music store years back and heard Sigur Ros for the first time. There was no complex algorithms at play as I walked around. This was music I hadn’t heard or know I’d like. If I was allowed to make bullet point decisions on the criteria of whether or not I’d like to hear that I’m not sure I’d ever ‘discover’ it. Non-english vocals? Lengthy tracks? Goes without saying that now I love this kind of music but I’m not thanking a machine, it’s all due to circumstance.

Same with shows. I first heard Factory Floor when they were supporting Fuck Buttons. I don’t think I’d ever have come across them otherwise.

It all reminds me of those multiple choice tests you take in school which determine what kind of career you might take up after leaving. You colour in your answers to condescending questions and are told you might end up being a doctor or whatever. It’s depressingly simple and narrow minded. Through lack of natural choice via experience we’re easier numbers to analyse.

Sure, you might come across some new music in the long run but the event feels a bit scripted, less radical. That’s my main problem really. Discovery is natural, it’s word of mouth, it’s an experience not an equation.

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