I love music. I listen to it when I run, when I work and when I’m rambling around the house. Even when I’m not plugged in, music runs through my head. It’s to the point that when I sweat, crotchets and minims fall out of me. But as much as I enjoy music, I hate being judged. Which is why Spotify makes me feel so… uncomfortable.
Forget the fact that they pay the artist a rate so spectacularly miserly that even Scrooge would consider it ‘extreme’. (Between 0.003 and 0.005 cents per stream. Really.) Or that it’s all based on algorithms that are designed to infiltrate your mind and steal your thoughts. Those things may be disturbing and they keep me awake at night but, when all is said and done, it’s the end of year wrap that terrifies me.
It’s as insidious as it sounds. Towards the end of the year, Spotify sends through a presentation that purports to sum up your entire year. In short, it’s not so much a harmless Proustian remembrance of things past so much as it is a challenge to your very sense of self. In short, I am not who my Spotify playlist says I am.
Because I use more than one service to listen to music, the results are inevitably and irretrievably skewed. As a result, I discovered that I’m in the top five per cent of listeners of ‘The Dubliners’. Worldwide. This seems unlikely, even if I’m as fond of ‘Peggy Gordon’ as much as the next person. But being in the top five per cent makes me sound like a dead-set fanatic. That said, if it is true, then surely I should be awarded some kind of plaque.
My partner results were even worse. According to Katrina’s end of year wrap, she’s in the top two percent of ‘Wiggles’ listeners. That news should not be delivered by way of a short animated video but in person, preferably by a member of the band. One morning you’d awake to the sound of the Big Red Car pulling up before Dorothy the Dinosaur rings the doorbell and hands you a muffin basket by way of congratulations. Nice.
These results have left me feeling immensely self-conscious. Every time I listen to a piece of music, I worry how it might impact my end of year results. Granted, I might have listened to ‘Aga Do’ by Black Lace because somebody dared me to, but I certainly don’t want it on my permanent record.
Surely, the day cannot be far off when prospective employers consider not only your Linked In profile but your end of year Spotify wrap. It would be beyond disappointing to miss out on a job because you’d listened to too much Juice Newton. The world is awash with data that we can’t longer control but it’s not just that my every move is being monitored. It’s that I’m being sabotaged that concerns me.
Last year, I wrote a song with my partner called ‘The Metal Song’. It was for a theme night and was intended as a bit of fun. We figured that there were lots of songs about silver and gold and very few songs about, say, praseodymium. The verses listed all the silver and gold songs we could think of whilst the chorus celebrated ‘lesser known metals’. But there was a sting in the tail.
At the very end, the song declares there’s one metal we won’t mention. The metal in question is, of course, nickel; and the reason we wanted to avoid it is so as to put as much distance between ourselves and the band ‘Nickelback’ as possible. The audience laughed and a lovely time was had by all. I should have known better.
Having declared in public my deep-seeded distaste for Canada’s premier purveyors of mullet-rock, this information is now used against me on an almost-daily basis. The young people in my life think there’s nothing funnier than to take my phone and line up as many Nickelback songs as possible.
Nickelback have a song called ‘Photograph’ and it’s one of their biggest hits. Did you know that there are at least thirty-seven different versions of ‘Photograph’ including remixes, unplugged versions and a spoken word rendition performed by Leonard Nimoy? I certainly didn’t. To listen to them all back to back is not so much a test of human endurance as it is outright torture.
Last Saturday, I started my car and within moments I was subjected to Nickelback’s ‘Rockstar’. I immediately pulled the vehicle to the curb for health and safety reasons. I now travel everywhere on foot as a precaution.
As disturbing as this is, I’m deeply worried that it’s going to wreak merry hell with my end of year Spotify list. If I’m not careful, come December I’ll get the unwelcome news that I’m in the top 1% of Nickelback listeners with a working set of ears who resides outside Canada. I’ll be ridiculed by people in passing cars. That may, indeed, be how they remind me of the terrible situation I’m in. I’m at a complete loss.
To prevent this from happening, I’m now listening to ‘The Metal Song’ on Spotify continuously, both to block out Nickelback but also to earn myself 0.003 cents per stream. Which is handy. By the end of the year, I’ll have earned almost a nickel. Which is a whole lot better than earning a Nickelback.