I don't really suffer from a shortage of music, (7.6 days worth if I listened to it from end to end), but I'm always up for hearing more; either online or by going to (mainly local) gigs, hoping some of the magic might rub of on to my playing. So when @iusher flagged up Spotify on Twitter a few days ago I thought I'd give it a go.
Initial impressions were good; excellent streaming, with little or no buffering and a wealth of tunes; this seemed Ideal for checking out an artists archives or to do keyword search on a genre. Since Pandora was killed dead, here in the UK, I have been using and having some fun with blip.fm but it's still rather insular; whilst Last.fm doesn't cut it for me.
It wasn't until @GeorgiaWonder, (who played for the Teachmeet at BETT), posted a collaborative playlist that the true value of Spotify became apparent. After some playing around, I decided to launch a themed playlist: Caledonia - which has one simple rule; all tunes must have some connection or link with Scotland, I posted 12 songs initially and have added one or two since. This has taken off like wildfire and the playlist now stands at over 140 and covers genres ranging including Rock, Punk Folk Strict Tempo Dance Bluegrass Comedy Poetry, The traditional includes folk from Ewan McColl and Karine Polwart, there's's dance music from, (naturally), Jimmy Shand and from this era Phil Cunningham, great rockers such as Frankie Miller and the late Alex Harvey line up next to the pop of Lulu and Sheena Easton; Andy Stewart and Billy Connolly supply laughs, and Robin Williamson carries on the tradition of the Celtic bards. Perhaps one thing that would make Spotify a killer app, would be the opportunity to see who has uploaded individual tunes; (and catch the culprit responsible for adding The Bay City Rollers!!). Perhaps also a online chat or comments would complete the picture, making it do for music, what Twitter has, for our personal social and learning networks.
And great fun though it is; this is about much more than sharing tunes; the playlist reflects a shared, yet very diverse cultural identity, I would be surprised if any of the collaborators didn't discover a few new tunes. Woven into the musical experience were anecdotes, banter and whisky. So, to anyone reading this please join in the - you don't have to be Scottish - just the music. Here's the link
Since then I have been thinking quite deeply about how we access/store/listen to music; is the time coming when like a lot of our other data; a great deal of our music will live in the Cloud?. Spotify certainly suggest this might be a possibility. Since using it I have had little desire, to visit my library on my HD. Spotify seems much more immediate, and there's always a surprise in the next song. How I will listen to music in the car driving up to Teachmeet Borders later today is of course, a different story!
Seriously though, if it is now possible to have this degree of interaction, community and collaboration for music, it can also be achieved in other areas. We can do it for knowledge, we can do it for learning, for learning resources, and offer some real shared community learning.