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Why Streaming Is Like A New York Times Obituary

When you are reading an obituary, the thing that changes is:

1 – The most recent past is not the most important aspect of the story


2 -It gives a life a sculpted story feeling, a beginning, a middle and an end.

Lives become stories with their own internal logic and beginning middles and ends. They take the chaos of happenstance and put in order. And it is all their in one place.

Streaming does the same thing for artists. Say, you were never aware of Maroon 5, and then heard the single on the radio, in the old days that was the end of the story: maybe you would buy more albums, maybe you wouldn’t, but even if you did, it takes time to research and figure out their career.

That isn’t true with streaming. If you like Maroon 5 today, a moment later you might have their entire career at your fingerprints. You can listen to everything they’ve released and the distance between listening to one and listening to all is as close as your fingertips. It makes reviewing music both easier but also more difficult because suddenly you’re in a world where everyone is an expert.

Not unlike promiscuity, streaming devalues the object of its interest. Whatever sleeping with a prostitute is, what it isn’t is a balm for your ego. whatever streaming does for your music, its ubiquity makes it less valuable. There is worlds of difference between rushing to a record store to buy The Clash’s “Give Em Enough Rope” and streaming Imagine Dragon’s entire catalog.

I prefer streaming of course (a simple child of appetite) because I want to know right and I want that stream obituary, or catalog or entire study. Particularly for artists that aren’t a work in progress but, like Miles Davis, have huge catalogs that could take a long time and a great deal of money to track down.

This is the age of immediate gratification, we want the details and the broad strokes of life immediately. We want order within chaos.

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