Thoughts on Streaming Music, at Medium

It’s rare for me to be able to find the time to write at great length these days, but when I do, I’m stingy about posting that content anywhere but here, at Still, after turning over in my head an essay about streaming music for months and months, when I recently found the time to knock it out, I decided to give a spin. The result is “What Streaming Music Can Be,” a rumination on the potential innovations that services like Spotify and Rdio have within their grasp, but have yet to achieve. Here is an excerpt:

“The interesting thing about a copy of an album on a streaming service is that you don’t have to think about it as a copy of an album at all. It can be the canonical version of the album, a centralized, networked experience that pulls together its own audience, a gateway into supplemental experiences. Through that lens, all sorts of DVD extras-style content starts to make sense: music videos, remixes, alternate takes, commentary, and more, all housed exactly where the album ‘lives’ in the cloud. Even better, the album can become a hub for those listening. It can host blogs, tweets, photos, discussions between fans and artists — and between fans and other fans. The centralized album can show us who is listening, and where, when and what else they’re listening to.”

The experience of writing on Medium itself was fascinating; its emphasis on simplicity is something that lots of publishing systems aspire to, but that Medium has somehow obtained. Like a lot of folks, I’m still not sure what Medium actually is, but after having used it, and after having read this insightful post about the service by my friend Anil Dash, I feel myself warming up to it considerably. (Full disclosure: I’m friendly with some of the Medium team here in New York, and I got a little special attention from Kate Lee, who kindly edited my essay.)

In any event, I invite you to read “What Streaming Music Can Be” and let me know what you think.



  1. We’ll if your vinyl collection has no value and is just sitting in your basement, I’ll gladly take it off your hands.

    As for music making a suitable gift… My entire Christmas wish list is vinyl only at Acoustic Sounds.

  2. I agree with most of what you write, but were you aware that if you enable scrobbling from Spotify and link it to an account at, you’ll get a lot of the features that you mention? Data on when you first played a song, information about the artist, how many times you’ve listened to it in the past week/month/year etc, links to lyrics, discussions about tracks and artists, what other people who listen to similar tracks also like… I like Spotify but without alongside it I’d feel very disconnected.

    Yes, it could be integrated into Spotify, but then what if I listened to albums from my own physical collection? They’re also logged into…

  3. Enjoyed the post Khoi. I’d not actually thought about the possibilities of music metadata in that way.

    One thing that I aways come back to is that there needs to be a better facilitation of the artist to fan relationship. How we actually do this though, I’m not quite sure.

    Sadly, recorded music has become a commodity, and this encourages us to consume it like one. Forming a closer relationship with the people behind that music would help curb this, and also re-instill a sense of treating music as an art form, and paying for it accordingly.

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