Should artists control how their music is enjoyed?
Recently, pop artist Adele released anew album, a novelty which ought to have completely escaped my notice, had the BBC not reported on some peculiar choices made by the Artist. Adele convinced steaming platform Spotify to not allow users to shuffle her new album. The justification behind this choice was that she deliberately wrote the songs in to be listened to in the given order. The question is whether she has anything to say about the way in which her fans decide to enjoy her work.
Personally, I strongly believe that albums (specifically in instrumental genres) should be listened to in order. This is however a personal choice as the enjoyment of music can take many forms.
Take soundtracks for movies and video games as an example. These albums are meant to be enjoyed in complement to the relevant visual material. It would however be quite ridiculous for a pretentious soundtrack artist to ban people from enjoying their work outside of the original medium.
Another example is albums made specifically for a certain mood. Should workout music only be permitted if the listener has an elevated heart rate? Should stoner metal albums come with a drug test? What about rave music or DJ mixes? Are they exclusive to live events?
Live events are actually an interesting note in Adele’s case. If the order of her album is of such vital importance, the supposedly, she would only ever perform the entire album during a live performance Though I have never attended one of her concerts (and don’t intend to) I can make the educated guess that she will not perform in this way. At the very least, she will take longer breaks between songs than the “intended break time” present in the digital recording Spotify.
In other words, Artists have, in my opinion, no say in how fans might enjoy their music. If I choose to listen to Adele’s album backwards under a bridge while talking trough the entire thing (which would be my duty when hearing bad music), then I am free to do so. Instead of forcing Spotify into this position, Adele might have thrown her weight around a different way, perhaps with a notification indicating that this album is intended not to be shuffled.