The Future of Streaming Music

5 Intriguing Things is a curated collection of links that help us think about the future. Subscribe to the daily newsletter.


1. Beautiful feature on the future of streaming music

"If the recording industry has its way, music ownership will give way to a model completely based on access, but with an important shift. While radio broadcasts are based on a one-to-many model of transmission, streaming platforms aim to zero in on the tastes of the individual listener. Like many other modern industries, the recording industry is doubling down on big data, giving their catalogs to the coders, and betting on a future of distribution and discovery dictated by quantification. Behind the interfaces of streaming platforms are vast databases of songs coded with pinpoint metadata and matched with freely provided listener taste preferences, an infrastructure designed to execute the recording industry’s century-long mission: suggesting with mathematical detail what a listener wants to hear before they know they want to hear it. Combing through a huge corpus of ever-expanding data for each individual song can be a vastly different undertaking compared to older forms of music marketing and distribution. What used to be a question of persuasion has become a problem of prediction."

2. Google's new modular phone is like a 2007-era green futurist's dream come true.

"Project Ara is Google’s attempt to reinvent the cellphone as we know it. Instead of a slab of glass and metal that you have no ability to upgrade, save for buying a new device, it’s an attempt to launch a phone where all of the main components are interchangeable via modules that click in and out, attaching via electro-permanent magnets... Google plans to roll out a 'gray model,' a very basic device that costs as little as $50, as well as higher-end handsets that could go for as much as $500 and up."

3. Lancet study says that perhaps one-third of people thought to be in a vegetative state may, in fact, have "minimal consciousness."

"'The consequences are huge,' lead author Dr. Steven Laureys, of the Coma Science Group at the Université de Liège, tells Maclean’s. 'These patients have emotions; they may feel pain; studies have shown they have a better outcome [than vegetative patients]. Distinguishing between unconscious, and a little bit conscious, is very important.'"

4. Legendary radio DJ Wolfman Jack as recorded at Rosarito Beach, Mexico in 1968

"Indeed, Wolfman Jack held court over his young audience from XERF-AM, just south of Ciudad Acuña, Mexico (across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas), where its 250,000 watt signal -- five times more powerful than any U.S. radio station -- blanketed most of North America. Without the benefit of traditional advertising, it was word of mouth that spread the news about the provocative Wolfman and his nonconformist style -- the kind of style that horrified parents, making it all the more appealing to a growing legion of young followers."

+ Description from this homage to Wolfman.

5. The history of artificial insemination: selected notes and notables.

"Meanwhile, the much earlier research by Spallanzani led eventually in Italy to the development of an artificial vagina for dogs by Amantea in 1914. This work served as a model for the Russian development of artificial vaginas for bulls, stallions, and rams. Another Italian, Bonadonna, continued research on AI in several species. His enthusiasm for the potential value of AI, along with Lagerlöf, resulted in the establishment of the highly successful International Congress on AI and Animal Reproduction held every 4 yr. The first one was held in Milan in 1948. One time I remarked about the extraordinary beauty of the Renaissance works of art in Italy, and Dr. Bonadonna said “Yes, but remember the future requires that you do not spend too much time dreaming about the past.”

Today's 1957 American English Usage Tip

BARBARISMS is a hard word to to fling about, apt to wound feelings, though it may break no bones; perhaps it would be better abstained from; but so too would the barbarisms themselves. What after all is a barbarism? It is for the most part some word that, like its name, is apt to wound feelings—'an offense against the purity of style or language,' spec. in the method of word formation. 

There are unfortunately two separate difficulties, both serious. We may lack the information that would enable us to decide whether bureaucrat & cablegram & electrocute & pleistocene are or are not barbarisms. It is indeed obtainable for any particular word from a competent philologist; but life is not long enough to consult a philologist every time one of the hundreds of dubious words confronts us; and then, even if the philologist has been consulted, are we to talk geology or electricity & abstain from pleistocene & impedance? No; a barbarism is like a lie; it has got the start of us before we have found it out, & we cannot catch it; it is in possession, & our offers of other versions come too late.

Remember the Future