Sunday, January 25, 2009


One of the few good things about the ongoing world economic shit-spin is the probability that the endless amount of tiresome “web 2.0 gurus” that fill up the business and tech pages of the broadsheet papers with spiels about how the music biz can save itself will go back to where they belong, talking to the gullible—but mainly themselves—on their blogs. The idea that musicians were gonna support themselves financially by giving their shit away and making the cash back on live shows was always laughable, and now even the dummies that convinced themselves it was workable can surely see it.

That said, one of their touted ideas, the celestial jukebox—all recorded music beamed from the heavens and streaming straight from one's computer—is here. Or at least enough of a working model that it’s possible to get an idea of the possibilities.

It’s called Spotify and sign-up is here, at least if you live in the UK (there’s no US support yet and access varies across Europe). After that you download a widget to your computer which runs an iTunes-like interface for accessing the music. It actually takes up much less system resource than the memory hog of iTunes and sound quality is pretty good considering the music is streaming over the internet. The only times that I’ve had playback problems have been when using up most of my connection with BitTorrents.

After installation the first thing to do seemed to be to try to find what isn’t available, and out of my initial searches Spotify did much better than I expected, although there is no Denim, Half Man Half Biscuit or “Prisencolinensinainciusol”.

As one of Spotify’s best features is that it’s possible to share playlists, I figured that it would be good to try to put one together for the Disastrous Rocktimists UK Pop Critics Poll track results and see what happened. Considering that the results were quite wide ranging there aren’t too many artists that are missing entirely; only volcano!, 88 Keys (bar one song with him guesting), heartsrevolution, Nat Johnson, Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Salem. Surprisingly S.C.U.M. and “Put a Donk on It “ by Blackout Crew are there (“Did you mean Blackest Crow” suggests the search engine helpfully). Some other artists appeared but not the tracks that placed in the poll: the only Radiohead is Kid A and The Best Of, Tricky has his early work available but not “Bacative” even though plenty other Domino Records stuff is there, Black Milk has some tracks up but they’re mixed in undifferentiated with a girl group of the same name, and for Addictive ft. T2 there’s only “Gonna Be Mine (T2 Gyalist Mix)” and not the original.

So here, as near as I can get it and with a few substitutions, is The Rocktimists UK Pop Critics Poll Spotify Playlist. If you have Spotify installed just click to add.

Rocktimist Mike T-Diva has done a couple of similar playlists, one for his top 75 tracks of 2008 (which is mainly missing funky house tracks) and one for the Pazz and Jop top 100 singles (six missing there).

Lastly, a couple of weird things about Spotify. The tagging of remixes is terrible leading to singles being on there with no fucking way of telling what is up with the multiple identically titled versions listed (save heading over to Discogs and comparing track lengths). And, perplexingly, how did RVNG Mix 3 a mail-order only, unauthorised mix CD by Tim Sweeney of the DFA end up being available?

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