Another day, another step closer to real life imitating an episode of Black Mirror. With so many of us cooped up indoors while wistfully staring out our windows as the summer season draws to a close, Spotify has stepped in to help assuage our 21st-century malaise with a “Wish You Were Here” experience, allowing listeners to pick from a selection of Top 40 hits and layer them over ambient background noises. And hey, if that's not enough, there are rumors the streaming service is working on a virtual concert add-on so that you truly never need to leave your house for music again. Wonderful.
Wish you were (anywhere but) here — Both free and premium Spotify users can now choose from a variety of traditional summertime events, including the beach, pool parties, campfires, “detour” country drives, and barbecues to serve as a background soundtrack to a curated selection of songs like Harry Styles' "Watermelon Sugar," Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande's "Rain on Me," The Weeknd's "Blinding Lights," and Dua Lipa's "Break My Heart.” If so inclined, you can also send a digital “postcard” to friends featuring your tune and locale combo, as if to say, “Hey, thinking of you from this stale, quarantine bedroom of mine that I desperately am imagining is somewhere, literally anywhere, but here. Also, DaBaby and Roddy Ricch’s ‘ROCKSTAR’ is still a legit banger.”
The best of a bad situation — On the one hand, it’s a decently cute little gimmick to harvest one’s user data during the dog days of summer. On the other, it’s disturbingly macabre to consider that, honestly, the real reason the minds at Spotify came up with this digital party trick was almost certainly because the outside world is a straight-up nightmare right now, with social gatherings either aggressively discouraged or downright impossible due to a number of factors including, but in no way limited to: raging wildfires, civil uprisings, deadly pandemics, hurricanes, and a generalized social anxiety from the possibility of encountering any of the aforementioned events.
But hey! You can set BLACKPINK’s “How You Like That” atop a summertime carnival’s din, which isn’t dystopian in the goddamn least, is it?
With eyes on the longer game, there are now also reports that Spotify is working on a "virtual events" add-on for streaming live performances. First spotted by reverse engineer, Jane Manchun Wong, a recent look at the BTS artist page included a link to "Upcoming Virtual Events," which would send people to the 2020 iHeartRadio Music Festival site and tickets available through SongKick.
Meanwhile, OpenAI’s Jukebox can now essentially deepfake your favorite deceased artists’ music, which might be useful for the Danes, since YouTube recently removed all Danish music from its site during aggressive streaming rights negotiations with the Nordic bloc. Our homebody shut-in future really is quite something, isn’t it?