Pushing music: Although Spotify is facilitating exploration, users’ willingness to archive remains strong

STREAM has published even more articles during 2019. In her recent paper Pushing music: People’s continued will to archive versus Spotify’s will to make them explore, Marika Lüders use Spotify as a case to investigate the action potentials for exploring and archiving music. She argue that Spotify is designed to push users towards exploring music, whereas users still remain attached to their personal music history.

With more than 30 million songs available, how do people choose what music to listen to? Music streaming services provide people with access to vast libraries of music, but also encourage certain patterns of consumption. Among others, Spotify enables people to both explore music and to maintain music. The database of available music, recommendation algorithms and social features for discovering music through peers provide users with opportunities to explore music. However, the personal role of music implies we may expect the ‘will to archive’ to be prevalent even if these archives are not based on individual ownership.

By using Spotify as a case Lüders explores these phenomena and action potentials for saving and exploring music. First, an analysis of Spotify suggests that the machine agency of Spotify pushes people towards exploring music, whereas archiving features are material and depend on human action. Spotify is hence skewed towards prompting users to explore rather than archive music. Next, an analysis of 23 focus-group interviews suggests that users value opportunities to explore music, yet their practices are equally directed towards archiving music. Theoretically, the paper delineates how objects with machine agency are different from material objects in terms of affordances. The action potentials of material objects are symmetrically constituted by what the objects provide relative to an active being. The action potentials of objects with machine agency interfere with this symmetry: the machine is designed to act on behalf of the human being, making certain affordances more perceivable than others.

Read full article here: https://doi.org/10.1177/1367549419862943

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