17 Jun 2024 – Divorcing the algorithm

I’ve been thinking about moving off Spotify for literal years. It’s shit. For musicians, for cultural diversity, and tbh, it’s increasingly shit for discovery.

What finally pushed me, I’m not proud to admit, was not ethics but a duo of terrible user experiences.

  1. I had an open collab playlist and some random user deleted all my songs and added like 7 random shit albums – those kind of generic, no-name “bands” that I’m certain are just made-up algorithmic bullshit created so Spotify doesn’t have to pay anyone.
  2. I accidentally added ALL Bach’s cello suites to the wrong playlist and it was a pain in the ass to fix.

It was time to go.

I did a bit of investigating and asking around and ended up with Tidal + radio.

Apparently, Tidal pays musicians the most. I was paying £5/month as part of a Spotify family plan; Tidal costs £10/month, a small enough bump to be worth it.

Tidal works with a transfer service and it was incredibly easy to port all my playlists over. There were only 2 songs it couldn’t find, a Punjabi tune and a niche Gill Scott-Heron song. A minor sacrifice.

Previously, I had got into the lazy habit of relying on Spotify daylists and discover weekly for random listening. But over time, everything starts to sound the same. Many have written about the reliance on algorithms acting as a flattening of culture For example, Filterworld by Kyle Chayka. You just get served more of what you already consume.

Tidal has some generated playlists but it feels less central to the app, and I wanted to move away from them anyway.

In my asking around, someone recommended Radio Paradise. It’s free, there are no ads and they have a few different stations so you’ve got something for different moods. It has a skip button.

Now, when I don’t have a particular artist in mind, I put on the radio. It is a good antidote to algorithmic bore I’ve started collecting cool indie radio stations. Tell me your favs..

It’s been about a month since I stopped using Spotify and I can only recommend! I’m listening better, more varied music and I get that nice smug feeling that comes from not using a shitty ubiquitous platform.

I also have a get-out-of-jail-free card when Oasis comes on in the office. It’s the radio, innit.