I was today driving in from my second run this weekend to Mendon, trips that reminded me that I am not a trained wheelchair lift engineer and that sometimes 15-degree weather is just a bitch on mechanical systems, when I went to make a left turn and the car next to me, I think a blue Subaru but not sure, started honking its horn. As we were the only automobiles in traffic, I had to assume the other vehicle was honking at me, and I must have left the trunk open or my gas cap off or maybe my Coke on the roof or something because the honking was rather urgent. So I turned my head to the right and gave the other driver a quizzical look.
He mouthed to me “it was the dog.” Dude had a puppy in his lap who had decided at that moment to become curious about the horn.
That, my friends, just made my day. Along with the fact that today’s temperatures were in the mid-30s and the problem with the wheelchair lift was, as they say at my day job, “resolved without engineering intervention.”
I gave the driver a wave and a laugh as I took the left turn.
Meanwhile, among the other things I was getting worked up about this weekend was my choice in music streaming services. This concern arises from time to time, and I don’t know why I bother having the debate because I always land in the same spot. (Ify.)
I’m pretty fussy about my streaming and about my music library in general. Every few months, Apple Music offers a three-month subscription for cheap, and I often take it just to try it out (again). The supposed advantage to Apple Music is that you can download music to your devices and seamlessly include them with your own music, whether MP3 or AAC or whatever format, so all your tunes are in one place, which sounds like a good thing.
Not for me. I like my personal library to be in one basket and my streaming content to be in another. This is further complicated by the fact that I despise Apple’s music manager. The whole concept of having to go through their proprietary “music library” is cumbersome and annoying and becomes doubly so trying to manage both selections from my library and from Apple Music. Apple probably has not had a decent music management system since 2004 and even then, it required somewhat of a learning curve. There are alternatives, such as Foobar2000, which is supposed to sync with your music library, but the sync is sluggish with newly added files, and I fear Apple will stop support for the app any day now, as they often do with software they can’t outright acquire. I otherwise adore my iPhone (currently rocking an SE), but the way Apple has you manage music files is just plain annoying.
Which brings me to Spotify and alternate streaming options and the latest mass exodus from the former. Leaving Spotify has become the thing to do thanks to its bizarre (albeit perhaps financially difficult to budge) dedication to a certain podcaster with a penchant for spreading dangerous nonsense on his air. Neil Young is out. Joni Mitchell, and Crosby Stills and Nash, too. India Arie, and my favorite Trump, Mary. And my brother, he went to Tidal.
The problem is that nothing touches the Spotify UI. It just works. Playlists are where they should be, and Spotify makes playlists easy to make. Apple has this thing called “smart playlists” where you can create somewhat of an algorithm to make you a playlist, and you can’t turn it off apparently, and it’s annoying. Spotify: Find the tune, add to playlist. If you’re on premium Spotify, you can download the playlist, or album, or whatever for offline access. And Spotify works across platforms flawlessly, in fact, it works better with Amazon devices than Amazon Music. In my experience, Spotify is just better. Your mileage may vary, of course. If, for example, one’s preference is more aligned with needing lossless quality or Dolby Atmos, Amazon Unlimited or Tidal might be a better choice. Me, I am still running the Kenwood stereo tuner my dad bought me at Circuit City with I was 17, so someone comes at me praising Dolby Atmos, I’m like whatsy whozit?
Besides, when you consider the true business model of your typical music streaming service, the ethics of one platform over another I think becomes even more relative. Music streaming services essentially exist on the basis of blackmailing the music industry–If we didn’t exist, and if we couldn’t be allowed to stream your content, piracy would run amok. I mean, remember Napster? Spotify and its ilk would argue that they are the finger in the hole in the dike keeping file sharing pirates at bay, and they’re probably correct. It is an evil justification to exist. But it allows them to exist. So regarding music streaming services, no matter which, none of them are out-and-out “doing no harm.”
I’m not usually a boycott guy anyway; I don’t think they’re generally effective, though some have pointed to Spotify’s sinking capitalization as evidence to the contrary. However, I think that Joe Rogan will one day dry up and blow away or at least will become a forgotten item, and Spotify’s stock value will recover. I think leaving a service you enjoy and find useful based on one stupid loudmouth you don’t listen to anyway is kind of senseless. Nope, I’m staying with Spotify, and I’m ditching Apple Music.