The Tyranny of Choice and Streaming Music Services

Having access to more than 20 million songs on virtually every streaming music service is awesome, right? It is–until you realize that this is WAY more music than any human can ever hope to explore. It’s the whole “tyranny of choice” thing.

Mark Mulligan of Music Industry Blog looks at the problem.

Regular readers will be familiar with my concept of the ‘Tyranny of Choice’ namely that there is so much music choice now as to be counter productive. 30 million tracks (and counting) is a meaningless quantity of music. It would take three lifetimes to listen to every track once. There is so much choice that there is effectively no choice at all.A host of music discovery services and apps tried to fix the problem a few years ago but most of them failed and went out of business. A new generation of music services such as Songza, Beats Music, MusicQubed and blinkbox Music are now all trying again with heavily curated approaches, delivering music fans the tracks that matter.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “The Tyranny of Choice and Streaming Music Services

  • October 6, 2014 at 11:20 am
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    I wonder how many of those 30 million tracks are total crap. I don’t just mean in the completely subjective sense of “I want One Direction and Justin Bieber removed from the internet and I only want to hear The Velvet Underground and bands inspired by them”, I mean that a huge chunk of that music probably consists of ill-advised attempts to emulate music that already exists, with results ranging from cringe-worthy to mediocre-at-best. I don’t think I’d want to hear ALL THE MUSIC even if it were possible, I imagine I’d probably wear down my “next” button. To suggest that “too much music” is a problem for music lovers simply as a matter of numbers, is like suggesting that there’s too many people in the world and that’s a problem if you want to make friends. I won’t mourn the countless people on the other side of the planet who will never be my friends, and I’ll try not to mourn the bajillion New Kids on the Block and Bowling For Soup clones that I’ll never listen to.

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