Why, despite limitless playlists, I still listen to Def Leppard

Tim Gibson considers the impact of music streaming on his listening habits

By Tim Gibson

A few years ago, my wife and I hit upon a brilliant idea. We were a bit late to the music streaming party, but we finally decided to take the plunge and sign up to Spotify. For £15 a month, up to four users in our household would have access to apparently limitless amounts of music, cutting across genres and helping expand our musical tastes.

    I can access pretty much any artist I want, in just a few swipes of my iPhone.  

It seemed like a no-brainer. For most of my adult life, I’ve spent at least £50 a month buying and downloading music. So the thought of a much-reduced monthly cost to cover all my listening, with the added bonus that Mrs G could reignite her enthusiasm for Britpop, seemed eminently sensible.

And so it was. Now, with a few notable exceptions (only a problem if, like me, you have a strange obsession with US country star Garth Brooks, who eschews Spotify in favour of an exclusivity deal with Amazon Music), I can access pretty much any artist I want, in just a few swipes of my iPhone.

It’s amazing. The day a new album or single comes out, I add it to my library. If I discover an artist who has an extensive back catalogue (Jason Isbell, anyone?), I can get up to speed immediately. No waiting to drip-feed their oeuvre to my eager ears. I can have it all, now. No delay.

And herein lies the problem. Because it isn’t humanly possible to listen to all the music I add to my account every single day. So I end up listening in dribs and drabs: the odd half an LP here, the occasional single there. And because the best music grows on you, I rarely give myself the chance to get into something new.

In consequence, when faced with a long car journey and the opportunity to listen to hours of brilliant tunes, I end up reaching for my old favourites: the music that I listened to in my youth, when you had to queue at Our Price for a new LP along with everyone else.

Nowadays, my listening revolves around Def Leppard, David Bowie, Del Amitri and occasional smatterings of Bryan Adams (usually in the car with my son, who simply *adores* ‘Summer of ‘69’). You’ll note that this music was popular in the 1980s and 1990s, when I was growing up. These are the artists whose records I queued to buy. Whose music I listened to again and again, allowing their song craft to work its magic over time, to get under my skin.

    Turns out I have most of the albums currently listed on my Spotify ‘just-played’ menu on CD or vinyl...  

So even though I know there’s a load of fantastic music available at my fingertips, just waiting to be discovered, much of it remains un-listened to. It seems such a shame.

Turns out I have most of the albums currently listed on my Spotify ‘just-played’ menu on CD or vinyl (or cassette tape, remember that?) in the garage. But it’s easier to listen to the MP3s, even though I am, in effect, paying £15 a month for music I already own.

It’s okay, though, because I’ve hit upon a solution. To ensure I don’t discard new music after one or two listens, I’ve significantly reduced my library. I allow myself one album from each of my favourite artists (Def Leppard’s Hysteria, Bowie’s Hunky Dory, Adams’s Reckless, Del Amitri’s Twisted, in case you’re interested). The rest of my library consists of singers and bands I’m just getting into, or who have recently launched something new. And I force myself to give every album at least 10 hearings before deleting it. If it hasn’t grown on my by then, it never will.

Sounds extreme, doesn’t it? And it is. But it’s the only way I’m going to get my money’s worth out of Spotify. And just in case I find myself short of something to listen to on a long drive, far from home, I keep a boxed set of Garth Brooks CDs in the glove box. I bought them from Amazon last year for use in emergencies. Best £50 I ever spent…

Published: 10 May 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

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