Erik Davis against automated playlists
The efficient delivery of pleasure is not what I want out of listening to music. In fact, the technical cult of efficiency, of developing algorithms to maximize pleasure, is part and parcel of the calculating, over-processed and data-saturated world that I turn to good music to escape, to interrupt, or to buffer. I don’t want to listen to what Heidegger, in his famous essay “The Question Concerning Technology,” called a “standing reserve.” What bothered Heidegger was not machines themselves, but the way that machines turn everything into a reserve of potential usefulness. Once you create a hydro-electric dam, then the rushing stream that inspired poets or musicians or hippie trippers becomes, inevitably, a “standing reserve” of power, another item in civilization’s immense calculus of extraction.
Recorded music is already a standing reserve, deficient from live music.