Technology has changed the way we listen to music so many times over the years. What we lose from discontinued old technologies is generally offset by gains from new technologies. The crisp, authentic sound of vinyl was bulky and not portable like the cassette tape. The awesome intricacies of making mixtapes surrendered to the CD which let you quickly jump to whatever song you wanted without risking the need to break out a pencil to fix the tape damaged from too much rewinding/fast forwarding. The CD’s high quality digital encoding couldn’t match up with the .mp3’s excessive portability that allows me to carry thousands of songs in my pocket.
The most recent change has been the move to cloud-based music, with services like Spotify, Rdio and Pandora being the vehicles for spreading music to new audiences. This hasn’t replaced digital downloads or even CD purchasing for me, but since I started using Spotify last summer, I’ve used online services to help me buy music more efficiently, buying more good albums and fewer disappointments. In fact, being able to preview music has helped me to branch out to artists and albums I wouldn’t have taken an interest in previously and I’m actually buying more new music now than I ever have before.
Blitzen Trapper put out a new album last year. Unfortunately, while it was on sale at Amazon, it was unavailable on Spotify. Without being able to scout the album out in advance, I passed on it. Some bands get the leeway with me that I’ll buy their albums sound unheard, but Blitzen Trapper isn’t one of those bands. I don’t know how many times I looked for it thereafter, but I never even added the album to my playlist comprised of any 2011 album that was even passingly interesting. Without this, I never heard American Goldwing and it more or less dropped off my radar.
I understand that artists are going to weigh the pros and cons of making their work available on Spotify. The compensation they receive in return is apparently pretty meager, and that’s a real issue to be addressed. However, if you’re in the music business and you’re not being heard, you might as well not exist, because that was basically the way I saw Blitzen Trapper last year. American Goldwing is available on Spotify now, along with the rest of the Blitzen Trapper catalog, including “Furr”, which is a recommended track.