Keep Your Usher to Yourself

    As much as I’d like to be seen as some kind of musical connoisseur, there are names in my library that can’t be denied. I have Ke$ha. Some Drake. Jamiroquai. The entire Britney Spears discography. Several albums of “wizard rock.” Worst of all, more Bruce Springsteen than anyone who isn’t my mother or from New Jersey should ever have.

    Clearly, there’s no hiding my love for pop music (and Harry Potter). But I’m not ashamed. I hate the idea of the “guilty pleasure” — if you like something, you like something, and I see no point in lying to people about it to seem cool. I’ll admit, there are some things that I’d rather keep on the down-low (namely, my obsession with “Moves Like Jagger”).

    Too bad Spotify and Facebook are out to get me.

    When Spotify came to the U.S. this summer I was undeniably stoked. The streaming music service has a library of over 15 million tracks, ranging from the obscure to the Top 40; you just have to sit through a few ads an hour to access it all.

    The only downside: Your friends can see exactly what you’re listening to.

    As soon as you set up your Spotify account, the service reminds you to connect with your Facebook. A sidebar is then activated, which includes a list of all your Facebook friends who are using Spotify. Their profiles feature the top artists and songs they’ve been listening to, as well as playlists they’ve made on iTunes or Spotify itself.

    You can make any of this as private as you want; the problem is, most don’t realize how public their playlists are until too late. Not everyone was meant to see your Makeout mix — especially not your Facebook “friends” (who, in all likelihood, include family and coworkers).

    But that ain’t the worst of it: Unless you’re wise enough to deactivate the feature yourself, Facebook will post every song you listen to on your Facebook wall. And that new mini-feed on the side of your page? It will be buzzing with all the Usher you decided to use as a distraction from your literature reading.

    See, I didn’t know this at first. One day, I opened Spotify to make a playlist for my friend. I had been telling her about my obsession with ’60s girl groups and decided to send her my favorites. But, before I started pouring over Spotify’s endless stream of Phil Spector-produced jams, the service asked me if I wanted to connect to my Facebook. I assumed that this meant, Last.fm style, that Spotify might track my listening habits and send me recommendations — not that it would notify everyone I know what I’m listening to when I’m listening to it, in a sort of hipster James Joyce-type stream of consciousness.

    Now, my friends can wonder why I was listening to so much Diana Ross on a random Saturday afternoon.
    I guess for some this might be a desirable feature. It’s a great way of hearing about new music and stalking your friends. But I think there’s something worrisome about how much our music collections are becoming public.

    While I love sharing new tunes with my friends, the act of pouring over a new record alone in my room (without any judgment) — and then recommending it personally to the friends who’d appreciate it most — sounds way more appealing than watching songs fly by on a feed.

    So call me a musical Luddite, whatever. I won’t be letting anyone see my dad-rock playlist anytime soon.

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