Adele against Spotify’s shuffle mode

That Spotify is one of the main platforms for listening to music today is obvious. That Adele is one of the great stars in music today is equally evident. So what as a general rule artist and service mutually benefit from what the other party brings to the relationship it is, as a general rule, a reality. But that does not mean that, on occasions, disagreements arise. And it is surprising when, as has happened in this case, they are resolved so quickly.

During the presentation of her new album, 30, and along with the more than imaginable questions in an event of this type, an unexpected debate arose about platforms such as Spotify and, in it, the artist criticized that, in the reproduction of the albums of artists in the service, this will prioritize random playback, instead of doing it with the sequential one, which is the one that the creators have decided is the right one, or the ideal one, for listening to their works.

Evidently, this has more application in some discs than in others. For example, El Mal Querer de Rosalía is a work (master, in my opinion) conceived as a whole, in which each song has a specific position for a specific reason. Other records, however, are nothing more than a compilation of singles, the order of which could have been decided with an Excel macro that generates random numbers. And yet, be that as it may, Spotify prioritized the random mode to the one established in the discs.

In this conversation, Adele was critical of it, claiming precisely that, that in his records the order of the songs has a reason for being, and that he does not understand that Spotify did not respect that approach. And the truth is that I can understand it. If we transfer it, for example, to literature, except for a few genius such as Hopscotch, by Cortázar, it does not make much sense to read the chapters of it randomly.

Spotify’s response has been expeditious, and it is that as we can read in a tweet quoted by Adele herself, the platform has responded immediately, and specifically to the words of the artist, making the random play function take priority by removing it from the top of the display for each disc. Random mode is still available, however, at the bottom, so users who prefer it don’t have to worry.

The debate about how an album should be listened to is not new. The arrival first of the stores like iTunes, and later of the streaming services like Spotify it has sparked a debate that has lasted for more than a decade. And it is that not many will remember it but, for example, the former president of Extremadura Juan Carlos Rodríguez Ibarra, earned the antipathy of not a few musicians by criticizing, at the beginning of 2010, a musical distribution model that he considered outdated, a hindrance analog in the times of digital society.

The already retired politician raised in an opinion platform of the newspaper El País, that if he wanted to acquire the song Tiramisú de Limón, from the album Vinagre y rosas by Joaquín Sabina, in the analog world I had no way to do it, except to buy the whole album, even though he only wanted that song. Among the criticisms, Sabina replied (I am not quoting it literally, as I speak from memory and a long year has passed) that Lemon Tiramisu was part of a whole (Vinegar and roses), which had been conceived in an integral way. Something similar to what Adele proposed to Spotify.

The default shuffle function will continue to show on Spotify lists., both those created by the user himself and those to which we have subscribed. And this makes a lot of sense, because it is precisely in that context in which the organization of the songs is usually casual, and the random mode allows us to reproduce them many times and always take us some surprise when we hear the first notes of their songs.

In any case, Adele’s complaint seems totally legitimate to me, and the response given by Spotify, which has not been limited to a declaration of intent, but to satisfy the artist’s request, makes me take my hat off. Here’s a perfect example of fast-track problem solving, without fuss and with both parties satisfied and grateful to each other. You might already spread the example.

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