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The Dangers of Digital Media

By abandoning physical media, have we exposed ourselves to censorship and corporate control?

Picture the scene — there I am lying in bed, earphones in, ready for a song or two to help me drift off to the land of nod. I open Spotify on my phone and go to a favourite album, The Prodigy Experience. (Odd bedtime listening, I know, but some of us happen to like being jangled to sleep by rave classics.) On opening the album, I notice that something’s not quite right. I can’t work out what’s wrong at first, but then it dawns on me — a track is missing. Yes, a whole track, “Wind it Up”, from this modern masterpiece of an album has vanished into thin air. No trace, no explanation, simply gone.

Feeling mystified, I promptly googled the matter and found a forum which informed me that others had also noticed the missing track; not only on Spotify, but also on iTunes, YouTube Music and Tidal. Clearly, then, this curious phenomenon had taken place across all streaming platforms. What on earth had happened? Was it a glitch in the matrix? 

Presumably, it was something far more mundane concerning a copyright issue or some commercial decision made by the record label. As a Spotify listener of many years, I am not unfamiliar with the strange little quirks that affect the content from day to day. Sometimes, album cover art just changes for no apparent reason. Sometimes, bonus tracks or recordings from live sessions suddenly become available and then just as suddenly go away again. I accept these as trivial matters which have to do with the fluid nature of that mysterious world of rights negotiations and licensing fees. However, I have never experienced anything quite on this scale before. This missing track business is different. It is unnerving....

Read the complete article in The Critic 


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