The ever-changing situation reminds me of the writings of Jace Clayton, an essayist who also creates music as DJ /rupture. In his recent book Uproot, an essential text for understanding digital music culture, he grapples with these questions. "It's always eye-opening to follow the money, but when we let questions of profit displace questions of cultural stewardship, the discussion goes flat," he writes. "The cornucopia of recorded music constitutes an unthinkably vast array of different types of expression, all of which have something to say about what it is to be human. A lot of weird, unclassifiable stuff is out there, and only a fraction of it is meant to be commercialized."
He ends the paragraph on a hopeful note: "Corporate containers can't hold the Infinite Library and shouldn't try to." For now, we have the occasionally exhilarating, occasionally maddening tools of services like Spotify to help us make sense of the past and the present. Who knows what the future will bring? At some point, a 1,000 song playlist might look small and quaint. Start building your billion song playlist now.