“Playing records is like buying a new pair of shoes”

Written by Lindsey Maycock

Since Spotify was created in 2006, music has been easier to listen to than ever. The website now has over 96 million users who pay a monthly fee to be able to access almost any song by any artist. However, the record industry has been growing every year since 2001 and is even popular with the younger generation. Some people feel that a physical collection is something that cannot be replaced by a download.

Technology is moving fast. New ways of collecting and storing music are constantly changing. Records date back as far as the 1890s and became common household items by the beginning of the 20th century. Cassette players took over in the eighties, however their popularity was short lived as they were swiftly replaced with CDs by the end of the 90s. The CD’s were also quickly replaced by downloads in 2010. With the convenience of a monthly fee instead of paying for albums, several streaming websites such as Deezer appeared. iTunes also introduced its own streaming service in 2017. Despite the convenience of music streaming, however, records are coming back into fashion. The industry recently hit the mark of being worth fifty billion dollars.

“It’s like buying new shoes or being a kid and getting a new toy”, Derrick describes. He has been working at record shop Concerto in Amsterdam for over nineteen years. Concerto has been open since 1955 and has been selling records, CDs and DVDs and the shops are still able to survive and make a profit in 2019. Moreover, he said that the trend of record buying is likely explained by the need for many people to have their own physical collection. “Many young people have gone back to vinyl even though they can get any music they want online because they want something which is less fleeting.”

Unlike Derrick, David Hogg has a radio show called ‘A Little Alternative’ on RNIB connect radio. David plays new music on his radio show, much of which he discovers through Spotify, as well as interviewing artists such as Lewis Capaldi and Pale Waves. “With Spotify’s radio feature it means that when one song ends the algorithm plays more songs which sound similar. I’ve lost count of all the artist I’ve found because of Spotify”, he says, “it certainly makes music more accessible and that’s a great thing for fans and artists alike.”

Music streaming does raise concerns on the effect it has on the music industry. Some globally recognised artists such as Taylor Swift have publicly admitted in an interview that she doesn’t feel comfortable making their music available on Spotify as they feel that songwriters, artists and producers don’t receive a fair cut of the profit. Many of these concerns arise over the free account option which allows users to listen to music without paying and listen to adverts instead. Hogg believes streaming is starting to become a valuable source of income: “I think it’s made the music industry better. For the listeners at least, I know that in the past the amount an artist would get per stream would be tiny, but thankfully it’s now becoming a valuable source of income”, he says, “obviously you’re going to get purists who think you should go and discover music the old fashioned way, but it’s just so easy with streaming.”

Spotify has forever left its mark on the world. It has given many artists the chance to be discovered and it gave listeners the change to explore new genres without breaking the bank. The only thing Spotify can’t do is replace the feeling of a physical copy and the excitement of placing it in the record player for the first time.