I found the early days of Netflix to be incredibly frustrating. Despite my earnest attempts to allow their servers to get to know me, I kept finding myself being unwillingly shoved to the far edge of the long tail. Even when I tried to convince them that I did indeed appreciate my fair share of mindless entertainment, I got volley after volley of French documentaries and forgotten TV series foisted upon me. Although there was (is?) a part of me that wouldn’t mind being thought of as someone who appreciates French documentaries, forgotten in the entire process was the fact that I was there to be entertained.
I later learned that Netflix’s behavior was largely financially motivated (as they paid less for the obscure), but they are far from alone in romanticizing the distant end of the long tail. The most recent service that promises to enrich your life by serving you up the incredibly obscure is Forgotify. Inspired by recent statistics released from Spotify that evidence that 20% of the songs in their catalogue (a full four million) have never been played once, Forgotify will serve you up a song that has never been heard.
While it’s a cute premise, Forgotify’s promise is tantamount by helping you decide what to cook for dinner by suggesting a list of foods that nobody has ever eaten. Even putting aside the fact that the reason why these songs/foods haven’t been consumed is the simple fact that they’re not worthy of consumption, Forgotify is trying to solve the wrong problem.
The real issue isn’t that forgettable music is being forgotten by the world; it’s that we don’t remember much of what we have already discovered to be awesome. If Forgotify wanted to help me, it would tap into that track that made my week two years ago, but quickly found its way to the recesses of my hard drive.
I’ve written about this topic before, but it’s worth a quick re-hit. Take the track below, “Play Your Part (Pt. 2) by Girl Talk (remember him?). I’ve played this song over 20 times since downloading it (a non-trivial amount), but the last time I played this song was nearly a year ago. Had I not made a point to look at what I was listening to a year ago, who knows if and when I’d ever enjoy this again.
Play Your Part (Pt. 2), Girl Talk
I always want to be exposed to the best of the new music in the world, and I’ll always want help with that. But, equally, I want help remembering what I already love. Both are equally important to any music lover.