Collecting music in the streaming age

Ofer Bergman, Steve Whittaker, Gidon Tish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In recent years, music consumption has shifted towards streaming applications which offer users access to vast amount of music without needing to download or own it. While streaming technology also allows users to create music collections, maintaining a collection is optional as for the first time in music consuming history users can reliably listen to music outside their collections. To study the impacts of streaming on people’s music consumption, we interviewed ten streaming music application users who are strongly interested in music. Our results indicate that when using streaming applications, our participants tended to neglect collecting songs they liked. They explained this by pointing out that they can always search for those songs again, but the older interviewees confessed that their memory often fails them. Participants also complained that music is currently less exciting for them because the abundance of songs with little cost has cheapened their subjective evaluation of music. Participants experienced no clear boundaries to their streaming music collections, with one of them stating that his musical identity had become more fluid than it was before he started streaming. We discuss the tradeoffs between exploring of new music and exploiting collections and psychology literature that explains why selection to create collections is difficult when the choice of possible musical options is excessive and why neglect of selection can result in reduced listening satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-129
Number of pages9
JournalPersonal and Ubiquitous Computing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank our participants for their time and insights.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature.


  • Collections
  • Music
  • Personal information management
  • Streaming


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