I’m very particular about my algorithms. Whether it’s Netflix or Disney Plus or (especially) my Spotify account… I don’t have much grace for those who mess with my beloved stats and recommendations.
Music was one of those things that changed my life as a young person and opened my eyes to a wider world of thought and expression. I would lovingly arrange my CD collection weekly by descending order of how much I liked albums or artists as a 14-year-old. That continued into my binders of CDs we all kept in our cars in the late 90s while I was in college.
Of course, Napster and the trading community around bands such as Phish and the Grateful Dead led me to many late-night sessions working on papers and burning CDs on my trusty desktop in the early ‘00s while a grad student at Yale.
Then came the iPod. I had the second generation (yay Firewire!) and had a revelation about the portability of 1,000 songs in my pocket (A THOUSAND!). That also meant that whatever remaining physical media I had quickly became digital and I began to pour money into iTunes. Pandora came into the picture around this time, and I still have a playlist there going back to 2003.
All along the way, I waited for the day I could keep track of what I listened to and track long-term trends beyond what the iTunes interface offered. Then Last.fm launched, and I was beyond excited to have that service finally (complete with API’s and an open RSS feed that I would even tie into a Twitter bot that tweeted out what I was listening to in my house… sadly that broke in 2015). When Spotify finally arrived in the USA from Europe, I jumped on the bandwagon immediately and hooked it up to my Last.fm profile. And so, I’ve had a music catalog of what I’ve been listening to since August 2005.
Way back in 2012, I made a post about this as well. However, the Google Home and Apple HomePods were still a few years off, and my algorithms were protected. I’ve been good about keeping accounts separate and all of our children have their own Disney Plus, Netflix, and especially Spotify profiles.
However, in a moment of weakness, I connected my Spotify account to the Google Home profile that works for the device in our 4-year-old’s bedroom. BECAUSE SHE WANTED TO LISTEN TO PEPPA PIG STORIES. You can glimpse the carnage wrought on my once pristine and full of indie jangle pop Last.fm page documenting my personal music history. After just a week of torment, I now see this in my once-beloved Daily Mix.
And what is this madness on my Spotify dashboard… Grizzley and the Kids?? THE LEGO MOVIE 2 (ok, the movie was good and the ending made me cry)??
I thought about spending a few hours going through my Spotify and Last.fm profile and deleting all the 2,130 plays of Peppa Pig and associated music befouling my algorithm.
But then I stopped. And I laughed. And then I smiled. The story of my 4-year-old and our relationship is also being told here. I’ll never get back this time with her and her resolute love of Peppa Pig Stories or whatever Grizzley and the Kids is. I’ll always have this record of the seven days we got to share something very important to me and hopefully one day to her.
Being a parent means giving so much of yourself in completely unexpected ways. We know that we will have to give our young ones time, money, attention, lessons, sleep, etc. We don’t ever imagine something like a Spotify algorithm or list of songs that seemingly meant so much over the last 20 years could be impacted by a child or given over to them for a week.
But they are, and that’s amazing.
In the giving and sharing of ourselves as parents, we find the real soundtrack of our life and how our selfish wishes or want of specific songs to be played do not always determine that soundtrack.
So thank you to my 4-year-old for the reality check and the lesson she has given me with her songs. And for sharing those with me on my algorithm. Her playlist is amazing. I can’t wait to see how the soundtrack of her life develops and to know I will carry a little snippet of it here.
But rest assured… I changed her Google Home device’s default music service option to Apple Music since I don’t care about that algorithm. She can totally take Apple Music 🙂