MC1 – Music and Big Data/Attention Economy

“Consumption, Discovery and Acquisition…”

In retrospect…

  • Consumed music through radio, cassette tapes, CDs, usually when in the car
  • Computers and mobile phones provided me with more control over accessing desired music.
  • Consumed through YouTube, Groove shark, and Data/File transfers e.g. Bluetooth, Bump etc.
  • Consumption / discovery through iTunes, free promo tracks introduced me to bands such as Half Moon Run and The XX
  • Explored iTunes’ new interface… sections labelled ‘Wish List’ (not used), ‘Siri’ and ‘Previews’ > ‘Siri Section has included songs I have recently listened to or added to a songs that I have asked Siri to identify also song I have played on Spotify… is there direct cross-convergence or is this a coincidence?
  • iTunes personal tailored music experience such as ‘Genius Playlists’, ‘Genius Recommendations’ and ‘Genius Mixes’ and ‘Top 25 Tracks’ (based on number of plays)
  • I only pay for premium because of the 50% student discount meaning that I can pay a subscription fee of £4.99  a month opposed to the standard premium rate of £9.99 per month. Another reason… now increasingly, it is more difficult to obtain my desired music through illicit ‘free’ apps that supposedly offer offline catching; another limitation is that most songs available on catching apps only offer a small selection of tracks, most of which rarely correspond with the original song version (but rather, remixes or covers which in my opinion devalue the experience of the song) and only offer very poor quality versions.


  • Radio 1 (Driving to and from university on a daily basis)
  • Spotify’s playlist selections under the section “Browse”, exploring ‘Charts sections’ such as ‘Global Top 50’, ‘United Kingdom Top 50’. Also, Browse “Genres & Mood Sections” ranging from ‘Trending’, ‘Rock’, ‘Focus’ and ‘Moods’
  • Specific playlists are created depending on the mood/genre e.g. “The Stress Buster” “Your Coffee Break”, “Feel Good Friday” and “#MondayMotivation”. I follow playlists such as “Supernerd by Spotify” and “Bring The Noise – Rock & Alternative” each playlist taps into a different mood or psychological experience, e.g. “Walking Like a Badass” features empowering and upbeat tracks.
  • If I find a band, album or track of particular interest to me, I will purchase it on iTunes. Bands such as ‘Nothing But Thieves’, ‘Royal Blood’ and ‘Half Moon Run’ all represent different experiences, memories. I would argue that we seek emotional refuge in music and that music allows us to engage emotionally in an alternative and unconventional way. I would also argue that listening to particular music (in regards to consumption focused on the music experience stylizes sometimes mundane, boring or simple activities; recreating these experiences and enhancing them by attaching them with music (influencing the way we feel)

Characteristics / observations of Spotify…

  • Social integration with Facebook, Option to follow and access friend playlists and listening habits; also mentions if mutual following of an artist occurs
  • Interesting to mention that Spotify offers a ‘radio’ service (not based on the traditional idea but rather a selection of songs that relate to your own listening habits, followed artists and favourite tracks) based on… however I don’t consume radio through that platform but rather the traditional forms such as in car stereo
  • offer an easy to find and navigate the area that all if not most of my music can be accessed, although I do sometimes revert back to older tech such as iTunes, and iPod.
  • Option for ‘private session’ where your identity is concealed, a number is given rather than data from your facebook such as profile picture and name
  • Listen in the car, walking around, cleaning, working, (a personal bubble of control and thought process, inspiring and emotionally enhancing)
  • Cross-convergent properties such as linkage with Facebook, iTunes, LastFM and local files
  • The Web, Desktop or app playback
  • Age restrictions for particular countries such as Spain, brazil and Canada.

 Spotify’s Terms & Conditions

(4.)‘Rights we grant you’

“We grant you a limited, non-exclusive, revocable licence to make use of the Spotify Service, and a limited, non-exclusive, revocable licence to make personal, non-commercial, entertainment use of the Content (the “Licence”). This Licence shall remain in effect until and unless terminated by you or Spotify. You promise and agree that you are using the Content for your own personal, non-commercial, entertainment use and that you will not redistribute or transfer the Spotify Service or the Content.

“…Spotify and its licensors retain ownership of all copies of the Spotify software applications and Content even after installation on your personal computers, mobile handsets, tablets, and/or other relevant devices (“Devices”).”

(7.) ‘Rights you grant us’

“… grant us the right (1) to allow the Spotify Service to use the processor, bandwidth, and storage hardware on your Device in order to facilitate the operation of the Service, (2) to provide advertising and other information to you, and (3) to allow our business partners to do the same. In any part of the Spotify Service, the Content you view, including its selection and placement, may be influenced by commercial considerations, including agreements with third parties. Some Content licensed or provided to Spotify (e.g. podcasts) may contain advertising as part of the Content. In such cases, Spotify will make such Content available to you unmodified.


“You grant Spotify a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, perpetual (or, in jurisdictions where this is not permitted, for a term equal to the duration of the Agreements plus twenty (20) years), irrevocable, fully paid, worldwide licence to use, reproduce, make available to the public (e.g. perform or display), publish, translate, modify, create derivative works from, and distribute any of your User Content in connection with the Service through any medium, whether alone or in combination with other content or materials, in any manner and by any means, method or technology, whether now known or hereafter created. Aside from the rights specifically granted herein, you retain ownership of all rights, including intellectual property rights, in the User Content. Where applicable and permitted under applicable law, you also agree to waive any “moral rights” (or the equivalent under applicable law) such as your right to be identified as the author of any User Content, including Feedback, and your right to object to derogatory treatment of such User Content.”

Spotify’s Privacy Policy

(2.) Key highlights of what you’re consenting to

  • “By using or interacting with the Service, you are consenting to:
  • the use of cookies and other technologies;
  • the transfer of your information outside of the country where you live;
  • the collection, use, sharing, and other processing of your information, including for advertising-related purposes (as described in the rest of this Privacy Policy, so please keep on reading!); and
  • the public availability of your information and the controls over such information as described in Sharing information.
  • In each case, you consent to the processing of data by the entities described in this Privacy -Policy, including the Spotify entity, as data controller, indicated at the bottom of this document (collectively, “Spotify”, “we”, “us”, “our”).

In the Your Preferences section, we describe the controls and relevant settings associated with your Spotify account. If you don’t agree with the terms of this Privacy Policy, then please don’t use the Service.”

(3.3.) Your Device

“In particular:

Photos and Camera: We will not access your photos or camera without first getting your explicit permission and we will never scan or import your photo library or camera roll. If you give us permission to access photos or your camera, we will only use images that you specifically choose to share with us. (You may use our application to select the photo or photos you choose to share, but we will never import the photos you review except those you explicitly share.).

Location: We will not gather or use the specific location of your mobile device (by using, for example, GPS or Bluetooth) without first getting your explicit permission. And if you choose to share location information but later change your mind, you will always have the ability to stop sharing. Please note that this does not include IP address. We will continue to use your IP address as described in Section 3.2 above, to determine, for example, what country you are in and comply with our licensing agreements.

Voice: We will not access your microphone without first getting your explicit permission. You will always have the ability to disable microphone access

Contacts: We will not scan or import your contacts stored on your phone without first getting your explicit permission. We will only use the contact information to help you find friends or contacts who use Spotify if you choose to do so, and we will not use contact information for any other purpose without first getting your separate explicit permission. Local law may require that you seek the consent of your contacts to provide their personal information to Spotify, which may use that information for the purposes specified in this Privacy Policy.


(4.) How we use the information we collect

“Consistent with the permissions you give us to collect the information, we may use the information we collect, including your personal information:

  • to provide, personalise, and improve your experience with the Service and products, services, and advertising (including for third party products and services) made available on or outside the Service (including on other sites that you visit), for example by providing customised, personalised, or localised content, recommendations, features, and advertising on or outside of the Service;
  • to ensure technical functionality of the Service, develop new products and services, and analyse your use of the Service, including your interaction with applications, advertising, products, and services that are made available, linked to, or offered through the Service;
  • to communicate with you for Service-related or research purposes including via emails, notifications, text messages, or other messages, which you agree to receive;
  • to communicate with you, either directly or through one of our partners, for marketing and promotional purposes via emails, notifications, or other messages, consistent with any permissions you may have communicated to us (e.g., through your Spotify account settings); in the section Your preferences below, we inform you of the controls you can use to opt out from receiving certain messages;
  • to, if you explicitly provide us your permission, use your mobile phone number to send you informational, marketing and promotional text messages using an automatic dialing system; you are not required to provide consent as a condition of signing up for Spotify’s services;
  • to enable and promote the Service and other services or products, either within or outside the Service, including features and content of the Service and products and services made available through the Service;
  • to process your payment or prevent or detect fraud;
  • to enforce this Privacy Policy, the Terms and Conditions of Use, and any other terms that you have agreed to, including to protect the rights, property, or safety of Spotify, its users, or any other person, or the copyright-protected content of the Service;
  • to provide you with features, information, advertising, or other content which is influenced by your location and your location in relation to other Spotify users; and

as otherwise stated in this Privacy Policy.”

Reading Quotes –

Big Other: Surveillance capitalism and the prospects of an information civilisation.

[Surveillance Capitalism] “This new form of information capitalism aims to predict and modify human behavior as a means to produce revenue 
and market control.”(2015:76)

“Information technology alone has the capacity to automate and to informate.” (2015:76)

“The logic of accumulation produces its own social relations and with that its conceptions and uses of authority and power.” (2015: 77)

“As a result of pervasive computer mediation, nearly every aspect of the world is rendered in a new symbolic dimensions as events, objects, 
processes, and people become visible, knowable, and shareable in a new way.” (2015: 77)

“I call surveillance capitalism, of which ‘big data’ is both a condition and an expression” (2015: 77)

“The data from computer-mediated economic transactions is a significant dimension of ‘big data’.” (2015: 78)

“…source of computer-mediated flows that is expected to grow exponentially: data from billions of sensors embedded in a widening range of objects, bodies and places.” (2015: 78)

“…'Big data' are constituted by capturing small data from individuals’ computer-mediated actions and utterances in their pursuit of effective life.” (2015:79)

“Such data are acquired, datafied, aggregated, analysed, packaged, sold, further analysed and sold again. These data flows have been labelled by technologists as ‘data exhaust’.” (2015: 79)

[Extraction] “The extractive processes that make big data possible typically occur in the absence of dialogue or consent.” (2015: 79)

“Hyperscale businesses exploit digital marginal cost economics to achieve scale quickly at costs that approach zero.” (2015: 80) 
- Spotify and the degradation of the music industry

“…Surveillance assess attract significant investment that can be called surveillance capital.” (2016: 81)

 Zuboff (2015) cites Varian (2014) “…computer-mediated transactions have enabled new business models…” (2015: 81)

“Surveillance capitalism establishes a new form of power in which contract and the rule of law are supplanted by the rewards and punishments of a new kind of invisible hand.” (2015: 81)

Control, Curation and Musical experience in streaming music services

“…streaming services are in the business of creating branded musical experiences, which appear to offer fluid and abundant musical content but, in reality, create circumscribed tiers of content access for a 
variety of scenarios, users and listening environments.” (2015: 106)

“Gold Stein’s (1994) ‘Celestial Jukebox’ – the dream of any music imaginable available at any moment through the press of a button.” 
(2015: 106)

“…services sell branded musical experiences, inviting consumers to see themselves and their attitudes, habits and sentiments about music reflected by the services they choose to adopt.” (2015: 107)

“…streaming services have profuse information about consumer listening habits and are able to readily feed that information back into the consumption experience” (2015: 108)

[Cited Kassabian (2001, 2013) “…ubiquitous music and hastens the shift toward ubiquitous listening: a networked sense of self that is always connected to our sounded environment.” (2015: 109)

Spotify – Brand

  • Distinctive green and black colour scheme, consistent over different platforms and devices
  • Allows you to consume music within everyday activities when a premium member because off offline content. Spotify can be accessed offline (saved playlists) however this is completely dependent on the subscription and initial internet connection to cache songs.
  • Spotify offers easy access due to its cross-convergence with Facebook.
"...'brand' refers to the name and identity that distinguishes one product or service from another in the marketplace." (2015: 109)
[Branding] "...has evolved into an essential strategy for the creation and maintenance of image, reputation, character and value across a range of objects, spaces and media." (2015: 109)

Spotify – Quality (For paid subscribers)

  • No adverts, seamless, uninterrupted streaming
  • High-Quality playback toggle (Premium only)
  • Far more control for premium users, eg. Unlimited ‘skips’

Can control whether your listening habits are broadcast on your behalf to Facebook, control is linked with easy access and navigation

"Quality indicates the unique characteristics the service offers in terms of their musical library and curation." (2015: 110)
"...Services initially pushed 'quality' related to the amount and availability of content they offered (e.g. all the music you want in one place), services such are now moving toward more subtle 
and distinct interpretations of quality, such as social connections, recommendations and curation capabilities." (2015: 112)
[Control] "...all the ways in which users are (and are not) able to direct their musical experience, in terms of how, where, and through what technological means they listen." (2015: 110)
  • Have the ability/control to create you’re own playlists and song selections for public and private use.

Some questions and observations…

  • Spotify and iTunes increasingly market personal, tailored music experiences through data capturing and extraction.
  • I personally, having an eclectic taste; gravitate between chart playlists (influenced/discovered through Radio 1 and Spotify’s selections).
  • Increasingly, music is marketed and attached to emotional responses, I believe this is true, songs can influence our emotions, memories and behaviours…
  • Are these industries being resourceful by recognising/acknowledging this new dimension in an innovative way?


  • Are such industries capitalising from our personal/private patterns of music consumption purely for commercial profit/benefit?
  • Music has always had social dimensions…e.g. Dancing at parties etc… However, now it is offering a more liminal exchange of public and private consumption; highly influenced and enabled by automation such as smartphones, Bluetooth and headphones.
  • Why do such companies need ‘explicit’ permission/access to our microphones, photos, cameras and locations?
  • Flexible, tailored music experiences that are available / accessible to most if not all activities; something for any everyday activity…
  • The term, ‘Explicit permission’ is mentioned frequently, what does this relate to? how ‘explicit’ or notable the request?
  • the contract between streaming companies and a consumer is established on a ‘give and take’ level. (e.g. ‘Rights we grant you’ and ‘Rights you grant us’)
  • I would argue that ultimately, the social values of music has potentially become devalued due to the easy access. I listen to music as a supplementation or extension to particular activities or as a enhancement to an emotional state of mind; I have found that I listen to music to actually appreciate the creativity and workings. I would argue due to digitisation, the music industry has become flattened and compressed which has created a vast distance and proximity between the artists and the practices that go into actually creating a song, Due to this we are sometimes  disappointed when we experience that artist in real life; away from the edited, auto-corrected and manipulated sound waves. forgetting the actuality that is involved in the production and distribution that is involved in the music industry; due to this, we are less willing to make a greater effort in supporting artists by paying for tracks despite the fact that this could have a detrimental effect on the music industry.

Further Sources…

The Devaluation of Music: It’s Worse Than You Think:

Starving artists have been affected by more than just piracy and streaming royalties

View story at




Jeremy Wade Morris & Devon Powers (2015) ‘Control, curation and musical experiences in streaming music services ‘ in Creative Industries Journal. 8 (2). :106-112

Shoshana Zuboff (2015) ‘Big Other: Surveillance capitalism and the prospects of an information civilisation’ in Journal of Information Technology. 30. :75-89

Spotify (2016) Spotify’s Terms and Conditions of Use. Available from: [Accessed 11 November 2016]

Spotify (2016) Spotify Privacy Policy. Available from: [Accessed 11 November 2016]

Havighurst, C. (2015) The Devaluation of Music: It’s Worse Than You Think. Cuepoint [Online] October 11. Available from: [Accessed 11 November 2016]