From Vinyl Records to Streaming Platforms: How Spotify Changed the Music Industry

The digital age has transformed almost every aspect of our culture and society, especially entertainment. While it has never been easier to be entertained, the roots and culture of certain entertainment industries have slowly melted away into the background with the presence of electronic amusement. For music specifically, pivotal factors to the industry’s growth have now become artifacts. Cassette tapes are now foreign, vinyl records are vintage wall decorations, and record shops are slowly turning into the Blockbusters of the film industry— unneeded and fading away.

However, the music industry has never progressed at a more rapid pace than it is right now. With just the touch of your fingertips, music streaming services have made it possible to listen to anything, anytime, anywhere. While music and technology have always collaborated as the digital age has progressed, there are certain spearheads in the industry that have transformed music more than others. Spotify, a brand that you have definitely heard before, is a company that is just as significant to the music industry’s history as the words “vinyl record” or “cassette tape” are. 

In just over ten years, the Swedish audio streaming and media service provider, Spotify, has become the driving force behind all music streaming. While Spotify’s competitors, like Pandora or Apple Music, have also had an impact on the industry, Spotify has pioneered and created new aspects and formats within listening habits that encourage more music listening, discovery, and enjoyment than ever. 

As a listening service, it is no doubt that Spotify would like its users to listen to more music, and it executes that goal amazingly. For every user, the platform creates personalized playlists based on individual music tastes and varying genres, moods, and occasions. From playlists like “Discover Weekly”,"Daily Mixes”, and “Release Radar”, Spotify caters music consumption for their users in a revolutionary way by providing opportunities to expand music taste and to enjoy more music based on a user’s listening habits. The music industry expands from this because people are pushed beyond their normal music taste and can casually enjoy more types of music. 

Due to these playlists, how people listen to music is shifting because listeners no longer dive into full albums but rather sample songs from many more artists. This transforms the music industry because it breaks down barriers for what it means to be a fan of a genre, because you can play certain songs from playlists rather than deliberately playing an artist’s music specifically. Additionally, Spotify algorithms allow listeners to discover small artists that aren't in their own hometown, which is very different from how things worked earlier in the music industry. Nowadays, you can casually enjoy hundreds of songs from hundreds of different artists, all because of the convenience of discovery that Spotify allows. Spotify is clearly playing their cards right, because who wouldn’t want to listen to more music with all of these resources that give more music to enjoy?

With their engaging ways to discover music, Spotify also creates connection with their users through provoking nostalgia and reminiscence. If you enjoy using Spotify, you most likely know about Spotify Wrapped, which is a yearly playlist that Spotify “gifts” every user to let them know what their most played songs were throughout the past year. Through fun graphics and statistics, Spotify Wrapped shows customers what percentile they were in for listeners of their favorite artist, what genres they discovered that year, and much more. By creating a time capsule of each year, Spotify creates memories with music for every person that uses their service. 

In addition to their amazing personalization skills with their customers, the platform also has thousands of premade playlists for every genre, mood, and occasion under the sun. If you want to listen to peaceful piano meant for better sleep, chill music for your morning coffee run, or 80’s punk rock anthems, Spotify has it all. 

When looking at what Spotify offers, it is hard to imagine the record-playing and CD-burning days. Before music streaming, how did people discover new songs and reminiscence in old songs? How did people listen to thought-provoking podcasts or designated ocean sounds to fall asleep? Having everything you could ever want in a music platform is new and exciting, but the eclectic and monumental origins of music are no longer present. 

Flipping through albums in a record shop and making a mixtape on a cassette for a special someone are embodiments of the past music industry culture, and the ease of shuffling your favorite obscure genre on Spotify is overshadowing it. However, while the roots of the past industry are fading, the present music industry is one that is adventurous, inclusive, and easier than ever to embrace, all thanks to Spotify.