In the 38 years since I was born, the music industry has shifted through a number of different methods of delivering their product to their customers. Vinyl, of course, has been the one format that has maintained relevance throughout my lifetime, but as a consumer, I have purchased music in 8-track, cassette, compact disc and, of course, digital form. Each of these mediums have their inherent benefits and drawbacks, but the one constant that tied them altogether was this: I could only (legally) listen to music that I, myself, had purchased. That meant that the my music universe was limited to the library of music that I had acquired over the years (which, in my case, was something that I spent tens of thousands of dollars building), and if I wanted to sample something new, I had to be willing to commit $10-$15 to purchase it. That all changed for me when I signed up for Spotify about a year ago July.
Of course, music subscription services like Rhapsody and eMusic have been around since the late 90s, but it wasn’t until Spotify publicly launched in the United States in July of 2011 that I decided to take the plunge and convert from being a music owner to a renter. Suddenly, for the cost of $9.99 a month, I now had access to millions upon millions of albums, old and new, that I could sample on demand. If I read a good review of a current artist on a music site that I trust, I can immediately listen to the album and decide for myself. Albums that I have always wanted to listen to but have been hesitant to purchase are now available to me. And best of all, thanks to Spotify’s semi-controversial yet undeniably brilliant decision to partner with Facebook, I can see what music my friends are listening to in real time. In short, the process of music discovery has been radically simplified thanks to the previous barriers to entry being removed, and despite the occasional gripes from music creators about payment concerns, Spotify has made this an incredible time to be a fan of music of any era. And that, my friends, is what I am most thankful for, musically, this holiday season.