I wrote a blog post yesterday about XSPF, pronouned spiff.
The comments were solidly critical, led by my brother and his friend Tony Alva, who essentially accused me to wanting to destroy the beloved record album format.
I too love the record album format guys, but I haven’t bought a vinyl record with the big cover art and liner notes that you can stretch out and read since the mid 80s. I know that Jackson still does that and that his vinyl collection is his obsession. And I understand that Jackson and Tony will be listening to vinyl into their old age the way that Tony’s grandfather listened to his reel to reel tapes.
The CD is a lousy physical packaging format and has been since its invention (dont’ get me started on the silly plastic wrap and tape stuff). Its one important contribution was the ability to rip the music off of it which has led to the age of digital music.
Digital music has brought portable music, shareable music, and remixed music. It’s a revolution in music, possibly more important than anything since the development of recording technology itself.
Digital is where it’s at. Digital makes music liquid. Andy Rock can’t do his metal night anymore because Jackson took back his record collection. Had the collection been digital, Andy would still be rockin at Olive’s.
Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I want to make an important point about XSPF/spiff and playlists in general. An album is a playlist. It is the sequence of songs put together by the artist and it is the most important version of the playlist that there is.
When I listen to music on Rhapsody, I can listen to any number of playlists, radio stations, mixes, etc, etc.
But about 80% of the time, I listen to albums on Rhapsody, not mixes or radio. When XSPF becomes a reality and everyone has digital music dialtone, I believe that every album gets released as an XSPF file, with amazing graphics, text, video, and everything else that we need to sit back and absorb the music the way Tony wants to.
Digital isn’t going to make that experience go away. It’s going to enhance it.