But as soon as you put only radio edits on your albums and cut them off anyway between tracks that argument gets a lot weaker, and 'power to the user' means that the user gets a say in how their content is consumed. Artists that only release albums are pretty rare.
What the article isn't really clear about is whether this goes for all artists or just for Adele, it would be a lot nicer if both Spotify and Adele would respect the fact that streaming isn't vinyl (or CD, for that matter) and that end users, you know, that pesky customer, have other ideas on how to best consume the music.
There was an architect here in NL that incorporated a clause in the contract for designing a large apartment building that nobody was allowed to hang their washing outside to dry. I personally don't think artists should have any say in the consumption of their art and its eventual use once they release it. You want to dictate how it is used? Keep it to yourself.
Very likely some artists have released LPs in the 'streaming era' that are the opposite of Adele's wish; that is, they have no set track listing.
'Apollo 18 is an unusual album, mainly due to the "Fingertips" tracks: 21 short songs which average about 13 seconds in length. The liner notes state "The indexing of this disc is designed to complement the Shuffle Mode of modern CD players."'
There's further discussion at http://tmbw.net/wiki/Apollo_18 of interactions with streaming services.
Some of the greatest bands of the past carefully constructed their LPs to tell a story.
Pretty much every Pink Floyd album is meant to be listened to in order. The cuts are so seamless you might not even notice the track changing.
I used to download singles and I never really understood non-pop music. Once I started listening to albums as a whole, I had a new appreciation for older bands. The art of making an LP is somewhat lost now with the rise of singles. But some artists, like Perturbator or pretty much anyone signed to BloodMusic, still produce LPs and even sell vinyl.
I know it may sound exaggerated, but I promise anyone who has never listened to their favorite rock and roll artists albums from start to finish, do it. You will have a newfound respect for the narrative rather than just thinking the band made good singles.
Some singles might appear kind of meh in isolation but in the context of an LP, fit right in. I honestly wish some of these streaming services had a way to turn on album radio rather than single radio. Single radio is such a destructive thing for so much of music crafted in the way I described above. Artists or users should be able to designate whether an album is a whole or a collection of singles. Then the steaming services should have some modes to interface with this flag. Otherwise, the music is just being consumed in a way it wasn't really intended. This is also why actual radio doesn't do some artists the justice they deserve.
Pink Floyd singles are good but their LPs are 100x better, even the songs people consider to not be hits, they make more sense and don't stand out as bad.
I could talk for days about how "this one trick" changed my entire perspective on music. Perhaps I'll just make a YouTube video about it and title it "Streaming services are destroying Music!"
Reel-to-reel tape (never really used for mass music distribution) and it's smaller cousin, the compact cassette (which was) can be used both in multi-track one-way mode and back-and-forth mode, but you can't really switch around reel-to-reel tape without risk of damage so there you'll always need a reversing deck if you want to be able to do that mid-reel, cassettes can be popped out and flipped or you can have a reversing deck (either one with multiple heads or a head that flips).
Compact cassettes mimicked the 'A' and 'B' side format of the LP close enough that lots of labels issued them, usually aimed at people playing them in vehicles (much like 8 tracks) where for obvious reasons a record player wasn't an option. One interesting bit is that on an LP it doesn't matter if both sides are exactly equally long, but for a tape it does otherwise you end up with a chunk of blank tape on the shorter side. If it's just a few seconds nobody will notice but if it gets longer it can be quite noticeable, especially on an auto-reverse deck. Some labels would fudge this by editing the length of the tracks or by accelerating or decelerating fade-outs, or by tweaking the inter-song gap.
But on the other hand, given just how much society has devalued recorded music, these days, I don't think it makes much sense for artist to produce complete albums unless they already have a very well established name and are well funded. Producing say a hour of coherent music to be played in order is significantly more effort and cost than "just" producing the equivalent length in independent songs. Also with albums you have longer periods where you don't have much to publish to gain attention vs continuous releases.
I was active semi professionally in music and we self released 3 LPs and 4 EPs. I don't think I would ever do an LP again without essentially being in a position where I don't really rely on whether it makes money or not, and have the luxury to be able to care about artistic vision alone.
Anybody who's ever looked at LPs notices that there are smooth orbits between songs.
That's so you can pick up the needle and move it to whatever song you want to.
That does not mean that artists don't want you to listen to songs in order, but it also means that you can just listen to the song you want when you want.
In the CD era, it meant that you didn't have to listen to 12 tracks of dross to get to the one good song the artist put on the album to sell it.
RHCP is a band that back then opposed selling their songs individually on iTunes because they stand behind the (already) old school concept of an album.
But in a way, concept albums that tell a story from start to finish are rare so most of them can be played in a random order...
> However, the shuffle symbol - two intersecting arrows - still appears on individual album tracks.
> This means it is still possible to start listening to albums on any track and opt for songs to be played in a random order.
The difference seems to be whether the "album page" has a shuffle button on it (which it used to, but now does not).
I'm not a Spotify user myself, but this doesn't sound substantially different to what they had before anyway? As far as I can tell, all it means is they get to put out a press release about how they appeased Adele, but secretly they're still letting users do what they want.
Maybe in another decade I’ll finally get that ‘hide podcasts’ button I want too!
I don't see why you'd usually want to listen to an album and specifically have the songs be out of order.
Yes, art is made to be broken (down). Agreed. But in this case, the art is starting as the artist - and Adele is an Artist - intends. An artist is not obligated to make the breakdown easy.
Like I get why this is getting the attention, but it's still a bit crazy to think that such a minute UI detail gets so much attention and article written about it.
FWIW I'm fine with this change. I can't see when I'd ever want to resequence an album, but if I do I can save it as a playlist.
If you want that choice buy the album or download it.
This is hw why not create a new frontend that presents the songs the way you want.
It shouldn't be. Pushing for that will just turn out to be an argument against streaming services.
I wish their was a button to allow me to play a series in random order. I throw on old star treks and have to follow seasons when I prefer random shows
Spotify didn't take away the ability to shuffle on album pages, they just changed the "default". In their mobile app the large green bottom under the album cover and to the right used to play the album but would turn on shuffle, and it now just plays the album.
If you look at the now playing song, the shuffle button is still there.
This button: https://0x0.st/-7Hd.jpeg
And the answer is that it’s a consistency thing. Playlists usually make more sense when shuffled and there’s some value in making sure the big green button has consistent behavior whenever it appears. Without a good reason, like a high profile artist complaining about it, there’s not much motivation to change it.
I seem to recall that it used to shuffle, which is why I no longer ever use it, but that does not seem to be the case anymore.
> The streaming service replied "anything for you" and took away the option for listeners to mix up the order music is played from album pages.
If users can still listen to albums in shuffle order then this isn’t really as drastic as the headline sounds.
I’m personally not a fan of being told how I have to listen to content, but if it’s just a UI change to how shuffle is enabled then it’s not a big deal.
I feel like it's just obviously user-hostile?
> "Fingertips" is a series of 21 short tracks ranging in duration from four to 61 seconds, totaling 4:35. Referring to these tracks, the album's liner notes include the message "the indexing of this disc is designed to complement the Shuffle Mode of modern CD players". According to John Flansburgh, listening to the album on shuffle made a collage of songs, with the short fingertips interspersed among tracks of regular length. 
This result in getting me to listening to full albums as my main style of listening to music, and growing up listening to a lot of radio I find it much better.
Sadly, Rdio closed down and Spotify changed its UI to deemphasize listening to albums. I get why, but still, it’s a shame.
I try to spend a few bucks a month on Bandcamp.
If you don’t like that it keeps playing stuff after turn off “autoplay” in the settings.
I've hidden podcasts, added panes for the latest releases of artists I follow and playlist from reddit. If you want you can also totally retheme it.
Times have changed. If you want an album to be played in order, number your song titles or something.
Why take control away from the user?
Because that's the difference between a "pop star" / "rock star" and an artist.
The former is market driven. The latter driven by (creative) self.
In this case the artist has an ideal about how her creativity must be communicated in order to understand the work.
Madonna? For example, doesn't care as long as the money keeps rolling in :)
I wouldn't mind having the option to "shuffle always" vs "shuffle playlists but not albums".
But in any case I'm a person who likes to listen to music on shuffle, whether or not its within an album. I prefer Spotify not take that power away from me.
I'd like a TUI music player that, when an artist is selected, will order their releases chronologically. So when I hit Play, it starts with the first release and ends with the newest release. Default is usually alphabetical by release-title, which is absurd.
And of course Adele speaks truth: songs on each release should be played in album-order.
While I'm feature requesting into the ether, I want a new control for "Stop/Pause after this track ends", so that I don't have to pause in the middle of a track, and resume in the same place. Instead the song would continue to play as I walked away (and audible, if playing over speakers), and when I returned and resumed, playback would begin in a more-reasonable location than "somewhere in the middle of the track".
Am I alone in these preferences?
You're not alone in these preferences, This is how I always ordered my CDs back when that was how I listened to music. It wasn't uncommon to see album collections ordered this way, either. Fiction on my shelves mostly alphabetized by author, then chronological within an author's section, with exceptions often made to put a series together; I've seen that in a lot of personal libraries.
Apple Music on the desktop does let you order stuff by artist and then by year, visit the View menu. It's a setting you have to make for every playlist/Library section. Dunno if the iOS version lets you do it.
"Stop after this track" is a thing I didn't know I wanted until you said it and now I want it a lot.
It’s like how authors put their chapters in order in print. If you want to read the chapters out of order you can, but the book gives a very strong indication of what the author’s intended order is.
Now let me remove podcasts from my home screen. Also stop lying about what I've listened too. I have never and will never listen 'Happy Hits'. ktnxbye
You mean like bootleg releases? Which authors or musicians do you cover?
Basically if I like something I keep it forever.
Is there an bare bones service that just provides you with the stream that can be fed to your own tools?
Anyway, presumably you can still copy the album to a playlist and shuffle that.
Since forever? When did artists have rights to control how their work is presented? There are restrictions on making derivative works (but that goes beyond simply presenting the work in a different way), and there are explicit permissions to present works in ways where artists are likely to disagree - e.g. parody and satire; and at least in USA the courts have repeatedly rejected the notion of "moral rights" i.e. being able to restrict the context the work is used if the economic rights have been properly licensed.
The composer does not have the right to restrict me from playing their song on an out-of-tune instrument while trying to fart in unison; the poet does not have the right to restrict me from reading their poem with a horrible pronunciation and with commentary that completely misses their point; the painter does not have the right to restrict me from using their masterpiece as a literal doormat for wiping dirty boots. Copyright grants them exclusive rights on making copies and a few other things, but not control about how these copies of their work should be presented or used.
I only play songs for the music and rhythm. I cannot easily make out the words, nor do I care to. If I did write songs, I would not care if someone listened to them in order or not, to each their own.
There are forms that do tend to have a creative unit larger than one 3-10min "song": opera, symphonies, musicals, song cycles. But in pop music, there sure is a lot of work out there designed to stand alone as a single.
Moreover, they're not removing the ability to shuffle and album; they're just making it play in order by default, which is a very sensible default and all but certainly the expected behavior.
> Spotify users could still choose to shuffle an album, but the system would default to playing tracks in the order chosen by the artist.
The ~20-min/side LP record was introduced in 1948, according to Wikipedia, while jukeboxes date back to the 1890s.
Also apparently the term "record album" comes from the books people would put their collection of singles in, before the advent of the LP. Sort of like the folders we stuffed our CDs in to haul around in our bags in the 90s, except bulkier. Publishers would put a collection of songs by a single artist or group out in an album designed to hold them, with cover art and presumably liner notes; once the LP format was introduced, this got collapsed into a single disc in a package that was still called an "album". Now I know why it shares a name with things like a "photo album". I have never questioned that word use in the entire fifty years of my life, and now I wonder why I never did.
Wikipedia also notes that it is arguable that the first "concept album" - a record album designed around a theme, with the intent of being listened to as a single unit rather than a collection of songs - is a 1940 Woody Guthrie album full of songs on a single theme (semi-autobiographical stories about being a migrant laborer in the US during the 1930s), but they didn't really get started until after the LP made it a hell of a lot easier to make a package where breaking the order up was a lot harder.
(It would be interesting to see if there is any data on whether there was more sheet music of single songs or long-form works published in the days when that was the primary method of music distribution.)
Personally I generally listen to my music collection in shuffle-by-album mode and never even use Spotify, I am perfectly fine with the existence of music designed to be listened to more in hour-long chunks rather than 3-5 minute chunks and I generally find listening to my entire collection on shuffle-by-song to be a source of incredibly jarring genre whiplash, but the history of recorded music has a lot of work whose natural unit is measured in single digits of minutes.
(And mostly this comment is just recording my notes from the brief wikipedia hole I fell in about the history of recorded music.)
anyway now I think I need to make a playlist where I take a couple of self-important albums that really want to be listened to as a Single Unit and stick them next to TMBG's album "Apollo 18", which contains 38 tracks, 21 of which are 6-61 seconds long. :)
Well, the problem is that the US is the farthest from the international norms of copyright, so while in the US you can do that, in other countries (maybe except Canada if I remember correctly) there's a concept of absolute moral rights.
So assuming that Spotify can fought it back in court in the US, other countries like Japan might give it to Adelle, and so the shuffle button might only appear in the US while other countries might think if they want to adjust moral rights.
Artists own their creations and maybe have the right of not wanting to call it their album if it is not shon as they want.
On the other side I guess they could just choose another platform and I am pretty sure that Spotify did because they think it is better for their business, whatever that means.
Literally millenia ago.
Their work (ie. the song) could be presented however anyone felt like it.
They do have control, they can merge all the tracks into a single long file and sell it like that, but this is not what is happening here, she decided to murk with how the consumers choose to engage with the artwork
It doesn't seem so long ago we didn't have much of an ability to pick what music we listened to. This will seem alien to younger HNers, but it is true. You listened to what was played. Sure, there were records and 8 tracks et al, but portability was limited. Not being able to choose what we listened, when you listened to it, or how you listened to it to peaked with disco - the backlash hit simply because you could not escape it...it was EVERYWHERE....radio, tv, movies, commercials...it died of overexposure.
Then for a hot minute - about 35ish years - we had complete freedom to choose how and what we listen to. Starting at about 1980 with the Sony Walkman + cassette, you could organize music to be portable the way you wanted, at a price of time and effort. This price dropped to almost nothing by the mid 2010s with mp3s and mp3 players. Complete musical freedom!
The problem? Even "almost nothing" wasn't good enough, we demanded it to be "nothing". So here come the streaming services to rescue us from the burden of work required to maintain our freedom....
The artist has no control. This is how it has always been and how it should always be.
Second, that link says nothing about audience consumption, it only preserves the provenance and integrity of the work. As mentioned elsewhere copyright covers the rest but both of these constructs are mental and somewhat illusory. More importantly your audience has to subscribe to them to follow them.
Third, at first glance that appears to only cover the USA.
I am advocating for a rejection of these principles.
I prefer Tidal to any other service because I can select albums and play them on demand. My wall of CDs sits idle.
I admire Adele for this. I once sat next to a friend of Steve Jobs on a flight; he asked for a drawing of the circuit I was using with my iPod, to bring to Steve. I asked if Jobs wanted his legacy to be "the man who destroyed the album". He was a bit offended and didn't grasp my point. I should have sat next to Adele!
I am having a tough time connecting the dots myself.
I can search Apple Music right now, and see plenty of albums. Not that it affects me, I have never once in my life listened to a whole album, nor do I plan to. I would never even know the lyrics to a song if it were not for the internet making it easy to look them up.
Actually Clementine was (is still?) able to play songs from Spotify premium (through the deprecated libspotify).
There's an open source Spotify client library that might enable this too .
You could use youtube-dl or one of its forks, or Invidious, to download from YouTube and play the result with whatever music player you feel like using.
Google drive + winamp ...
Like how people will clamor for a theoretical feature, then you take the time to implement it, check your analytics, and find absolutely no one is using it.
I can't fault you at all for not being able to find something reputable.
Another instance of walled gardens failing to provide what people actually want, as opposed to what companies think we want.
Second result is a paid app, even higher rating, also top 200, no IAP.
Like yes, the app store has problems. But no, that is not why you'd be unable to find a 3rd party player for one of the largest streaming platforms.
And instead of 20 results when there's no guarantee 20 quality apps even exist... what about the first result besides a clear ad and Apple Music itself?
And what do you know, it's a top 100 app, over 12 years old, updated last month, and sitting at a 4.6 rating with 51k ratings.
Even when you do manage to find a potential replacement for Apple Music, Apple has locked devs out of key features like showing lyrics and the ability to remove anything from your library. This goes back to my original point...
I could go on, but the point is that this duopoly isn't driving progress properly because the choice of being on Apple Music vs. Spotify is more about a larger ecosystem choice than features and functionality.
The power to mix tracks across albums and artists should be at the discretion of the listener. New ordering of pieces/songs can enable new interpretation of music.
Okay, its just four movements, but they could split it by tempi.
Don't know if Ludvig van would have been fond of it, but Alex would shive the cables to the mozgs of those bratchnys with his sharpy britchna.
Just in case there are any classic fans in need of an alternative:
One, two, three, four...
Control has been entirely taken out of the user's hands.
I think Ozzy said it best when he said when you bought a record usually there were often some songs you didn't like, but after listening to the album a few times they became some of your favorites.
Can you imagine YouTube bringing back dislikes for MKBHD?
Equally annoying is the fact that even though I've chosen to not play 'related music' after my album has finished playing, somehow Spotify manages to ignore that user-preference each time I update the app.
Spotify is a perfect example of a tech company that gives absolutely no fucks for the preferences of their paying customers.
Spotify queue management is just terrible. I don't know exactly what it is doing because I have never sat down and thoroughly experimented with it, but this is approximately what I see at least on their iPad app.
If I add individual songs to my queue, when the last one finishes playing it seems to automatically add the rest of the songs from the album that song came from. It doesn't necessarily start playing them, but if I don't go in and clear them before the next time I start queuing up individual songs they can get played.
I just want a way to easily completely empty the queue and whatever that "sort of in the queue but not quit" thingy is, and to have it only play songs or whole albums that I explicitly add to the queue.
I'd also like a mode where when something is playing from the queue and I click a song in a search result or a playlist it adds that song to the end of the queue rather than starting to play it immediately.
It changes and is incomprehensible.
I suspect that end-user subscriptions contribute a relatively small amount to total revenue. Their most valuable customers would be ad reps.
That said, I think Spotify does a pretty good job making the end-user experience very nice. It's fast, reliable, relatively bug-free, has great integrations (it's a better sonos controller than the real sonos controller,) and the best catalog going. Criticizing the finer points is a useful exercise, but, personally, I'm not seeing any dealbreakers.
Asking for a friend.
It is very much the opposite. In the most recent quarter, Spotify had revenues of 2,178 million from premium subscriptions and 323 million from ad-supported users.
 Q3 2021, data from https://s22.q4cdn.com/540910603/files/doc_financials/2021/q3...
More data is available: https://investors.spotify.com/financials/default.aspx
They can have all the features they want but if the growth team keeps up with these tricks to extend "listen time" metrics, nobody will like the product
Which albums are meant to be played in random order?
other type of compilation albums
albums before the Beatles often were not composed with an idea that the order of play was important, even though they were of course in a particular order
there are probably quite a few others, I would say maybe lots of albums supposedly are meant to be played in a certain order, but only in some of them does it make a great difference - for example if you randomize The Dark Side of the Moon as mentioned it would have some tracks that were no longer functioning in relation to the others.
For best effects I recommend also loading Nine Inch Nails' "The Downward Spiral" into the third slot of your CD changer.
iPhone music player (Music.app; formerly iTunes.app) does exactly the same shit. I find Tim Cook efficient at making once great built-in iOS and maCOS apps annoying or barely useful.
Also, with introduction of Apple Music, Apple disallowed sharing music over LAN. I always found it useful to be able to play music that sits on just one computer on the network, from any Apple device. What once just worked, now became a subscription fee for iirc $20/mo.
It pretty much looked like an extortion attempt: Apple blocked my access to owned, legal, lossless music files in their proprietary AIFF format and offered presumably the same music streamed from their servers for a fee.
IIRC this sharing functionality worked until Mojave and became problematic with the introduction of Catalina. It went from being an option in iTunes to being an option in the Sharing menu in System Preferences. It still used DAAP as an underneath technology but became problematic, with browsable but not playable library etc.
Before that, I had an IKE VPN set up from iPhone to home network which allowed accessing music residing on iMac's HDD while biking or hiking, on iPhone with much less storage than music library weight.
I do hate the apple tries to push Apple music at every opportunity even though I have zero interest.
Also, I found shuffle is broken in the music app. I switched to Foobar2000 and suddenly I'm hearing tracks on shuffle that the Music app had never played in 10years that were on my phone.
When I use Siri and instruct it to "play xxx", where "xxx" is a locally present song, it often randomly does not play the song but instead searches for it. An example from yesterday or the day before: I have a "Reservoir Dogs" soundtrack ripped from CD. If I instruct my iPhone to "play Little Green Bag", it no longer just plays the song it lists in Music.app, as it always did when it was called iTunes. It offers me the purchase and download of George Baker Selection CD which originally lists this song included in Tarantino's movie.
I currently have iOS 15.02 installed and I do not have nor had Apple Music subscription.
Settings->Music->Show Apple Music
On the desktop I don't have the big "play shuffled" button at all. I only see it on the iphone for playlists. I've checked a few albums, and they had the regular play button.
I just wish shuffle was truly random, but it seems to favor tracks with the (edit- got this mixed up) lowest payout. I had the same track repeated several times to me in a few hours, in a playlist of several hundred tracks
This is related to the Birthday Paradox.
EDIT: Disregard this. I was thinking of shuffling as repeatedly choosing songs uniformly at random with replacement from the playlist, but commenters reminded me that shuffling shouldn't work that way. I found an open issue about this: https://community.spotify.com/t5/Desktop-Mac/Shuffle-should-...: "In a playlist of mine that is more than 6 hours long, shuffle often plays songs twice or three times within 30 minutes."
But it happens a lot. And it seems to favor certain artists. I am well acquainted with the properties of randomness and what I've seen suggests some kind of weighting system.
Why would it do that? Wouldn't it optimize for the lowest per-stream rate?
I really wish it were possible to pay for a separate player/discovery app, in addition to my Spotify subscription, that had access to the Spotify catalog.
There is not.
> I really wish it were possible to pay for a separate player/discovery app, in addition to my Spotify subscription, that had access to the Spotify catalog.
This is possible. The Spotify SDK allows you to do practically anything, the only caveat is that Spotify is in control of playback state, you merely request the desired state. In practice this means you can do whatever you want -- no shuffle, better discovery, write your own radio or suggestion algorithms, etc.
(And to be clear, I'm looking to pay for an existing app, not write my own.)
No, but try https://bandcamp.com.
You've hit on my main argument against artist's trying to "own" their work, and against DRM. There are a million other ways to monetize your work instead of trying to control how it is consumed.
As the great, wise Yogurt once said, "MOICHENDISING!"
Or maybe it does? At least the things you are complaining about (minus the auto reset) are exactly what I desire to happen.
I barely ever listen to a specific album (in a specific order), but often listen to an artists entire catslog.
I like Spotify's behavior, because I don't listen to albums, I fill my spacetime with music. I want to press Play once, and not have to micromanage the player. It's actually the reason why I use Spotify. Apple Music plays one song I select, and then falls silent.
I think that is a larger problem across the industry. And here is an unpopular opinion especially on HN. Tech is dominating every field. Tech is dictating trends. And Tech company are making consumer products but doesn't understand consumers. It is exactly the same on Apple Music at launch when they decide to not include a Loop button because it was all about the "Next Song".
I felt Spotify, or arguably Apple has made the business case for Streaming Music ( or not since they dont make much money ). But in terms of product or UX they are not any better.
Having said that I still think Spotify is far better than Apple Music. And Shuffle works for long playlist and not on Album so I am perfectly fine with the decision.
The Smart Speaker experience is pure Shite. Play the ENTIRE album I requested.
AND let me choose "Explicit" filtering based on what device I am on.
I'm in my late 40s and very rarely do NOT use shuffle play.
> Spotify is a perfect example of a tech company that gives absolutely no fucks for the preferences of their paying customers.
You have no evidence for that. You don't like one thing & then decided your preferences represent the mass user base. Get over yourself.
I have a favorites playlist with over 3k songs and if i just press shuffle to start playing - it keeps playing the same freaking songs. It's a mix of most recently added + 20 of my most played song. I have to scroll all the way down, pick a random song, and then it will start picking more random songs from the playlist.
However for albums I completely agree with you. You’d think it would be smart enough to detect when an album is on an default to not shuffling.