Saturday, 18 April 2009

Totally Hooked

After successfully giving up alcohol (temporarily, anyhow), quitting cigarettes (ten years ago) and limiting my coffee intake to a maximum two cups per day, my addiction-free lifestyle has hit the rocks rather badly. I blame my flat-mate Alex. Ever since we've lived here, we've been enjoying free entry to Club Alex, a handbag-house spectacular staged regularly in our kitchen by Pedro Alejandro and his trusty laptop. Many's the time I have wiggled my hips and performed abominably cheesy dance moves over the simmering pasta, little suspecting the ambush that lay ahead.

A moment of geeky interest in the source of Alex's extensive gay disco repertoire produced an enthusiastic response from Alex. "It's Spotify!" He told me "You should try it".

The only previous reference to Spotify I'd come across was in an online news article, which I'd downloaded purely for teaching purposes because it had so many excellent examples of the Passive Voice ("to be" plus past participle, example sentence: I was arrested for apalling dance moves by the Disco Police).

So, seeking a little music while at my mum's in France and needing a change from our over-familiar CD and MacBook collection, I Facebooked Alex in Mexico (really, this has become very geeky all of a sudden, I do apologise) and asked for a link and invite to the Spotify site. Alex obliged almost immediately, so I registered, downloaded the software and before you could say "gay disco" I was clicking my way merrily through a forest of tracks.

Being a slightly obsessive music lover anyway, I was instantly hooked. Loads and loads of tracks from a huge variety of genres and eras just a double-click away. Because the audio is streamed rather than downloaded, all you need is a half-decent internet connection to rampage through the available catalogue at will.

Which is exactly what I've been doing at every conceivable opportunity. After a year without my previous favoured provider of new and half-forgotten music, BBC 6Music, it's been bliss to feast my ears on a host of fresh stuff. In the days of yore I was a dedicated user of the Napster website (before it got legalised) and although I downloaded loads of tracks without paying for them, my monthly CD bill went through the roof as my discoveries fuelled my desire to possess more and more tunes. On balance, I'd say the record industry gained much more from me than it lost in those Napster days. I was bereft when it had to close down and none of the other file-sharing, peer-to-peer, thoroughly lawless internet data sharing processes have ever quite done it for me in the same way.

The beauty of this one is that it's perfectly legal, as well as being free (if you don't mind putting up with the occasional advert - you can pay for a commercial-free service if you want) and although it's all streaming audio, you can grab the tracks you like and stick them in playlists rather like the ones on iTunes, so you can find them for instant gratification whenever you need to.

My only worry is if something happens to our internet connection. Without my constant supply of new music I think there might be serious repercussions to my health. Cold turkey, the lot. I'd probably get the shakes and start gibbering or something. It's all getting rather worrying, actually.

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