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The End of an Era: From CDs to Music Streaming

Sanaea Bhagwagar '17, Entertainment Editor
The increase in online music streaming apps has invaded Hopkins students' listening interests.
It’s a typical Sunday night. Students in all grades are humming along to their favorite songs while cramming in their last-minute essays, cleaning their room, and preparing for the week. Contrary to years past, however, students are no longer listening to CDs or even to music they bought online. Instead, students are streaming online music on apps such as Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio.

These online music streaming apps provide ways for users to listen to music on their phones for free. iHeartRadio resembles a radio for one’s phone, while Spotify and Pandora allow users to sort music according to artist, genre, and album.

A main reason why students have shifted to music streaming is the lack of a fee associated with the music. Zev Rosen ’17 said, “Spotify is like iTunes with ads, but you don’t have to pay for the music.” Lauren Seto ’19 added, “I [stream music] because you don’t have to pay for what you are listening to and you can experiment with new types of music that you wouldn’t necessarily want to commit to by buying.”

The versatility of playlists and the variety of songs available is another attraction. Apps such as Pandora have features that allow users to mark their favorite and subsequently cater to their interests. Eric Kong ’16 said, “If I like the song, I give it a thumbs-up and the app generates more songs that I like. I love this element because it saves me the work of having to find songs that I like. Instead, the machine does it for me so I don’t have to do it!”

Users can also organize their music however they want, creating playlists for every occasion. Kong said, “I have a variety of music depending on the mood I’m in. I usually use my Pandora Music Station when I’m cleaning my room. For example, when I’m studying, I turn on my classical station.”

In some ways, the app Spotify is another form of social media. Users have the option of adding “friends” and “sharing” playlists with others. Ruth Tomlin ’16 said, “I really like that you can see what your friends are listening to because that’s another way that I find new music a lot of the time.” Rosen added, “I can easily follow my friends’ music and listen to it.”

However, within each app, there are often further services which can be paid for. For example, Spotify offers two options: Spotify Free and Spotify Premium, a paid service. Philip Geanakoplos ’16 commented, “Spotify Premium is infinitely better than [Spotify Free]. You can choose your songs and there are no ads.” Mollie Seidner ’16 explained the disadvantages of Spotify Free: “It’s really annoying because after every third song there is an advertisement. Also, if you make a playlist that is too short, the app adds random songs to it which is very annoying.”

Another downside to streaming music online is that the apps require either Wi-Fi or cellular service. Seidner admitted, “You use a lot of your data.”Nevertheless, The Statista Portal reported that CD and album sales have declined by 11% and 3% respectively over the past two years. Seidner said, “I’ve stopped listening to CDs and now I stream music. It’s such a hassle to carry around CDs.”

Tomlin said, “What I really like about Spotify is that it’s a free and easy way to listen to new types of music that you’re not super sure you’d like. It’s so much easier than trying to find songs on YouTube or going through the hassle of downloading or buying something you’re kind of on the fence about.”

Ally Batter ’17 said, “Whether I’m on the bus or hanging out with my friends, Spotify provides the perfect music for any situation.”
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