The technological change I will be applying the TETRAD to is the concept of the streaming service. For reference, when I refer to streaming services, I am referring to the conventional streaming service. These are characterised by a subscription-based fee, an extensive back catalogue, a synergy with handheld personal listening devices (PLDs) and off-line listening capabilities. Examples include Apple Music and Spotify. I will go through each facet of the TETRAD, applying them to these streaming services (in comparison to the previous primary mode of music consumption, downloaded (illegally or bought) mp3 files stored on a PLD.
One of the primary appealing factors of PLDs is the access they afford consumers to their music whilst away from their home. The enhancement that streaming technology does to this concept is simply expanding the consumers’ music. Rather than being confined by device memory or the size of their own music collection, consumers now have easy access to ‘the celestial jukebox’ (Burkart 2004).
Arguably, streaming technology makes all previous modes of consumption obsolete. Whilst in practice this simply isn’t the case due to consumer preference and notions of authenticity attached to certain consumptive methods, as seen above the streaming technology enhances the remote listening experience to the point where, stripping away all connotations attached to modes of music consumption, previous consumptive methods are comparatively inefficient and therefore obsolete.
The retrieval being carried out by streaming technology is the revival of the jukebox style of consumption – paying for a selection of pre-determined songs. However, the physical and limited aspect of the jukebox has been replaced by a celestial element – cheaper per play and an infinitely-wider selection on offer.
The reverse potential for streaming services is large. The discovery service used by streaming services narrows down audience preference to an extreme level on an individual user basis. The streamlined knowledge of a customer’s musical preferences allows these services to suggest new music to a customer that is likely to be approved of. It is possible that this discovery-based service could become so efficient and accurate that customers are only ever shown music the technology predicts they’ll enjoy. This in turn brings in questions of choice – if everything is recommended based on previous consumption, is the consumer really choosing what they listen to?
- Burkart, P. and McCourt, T. (2004). Infrastructure for the celestial jukebox. Popular Music, 23(3), pp. 349-362