Caroline Richards ’22
The rise of mainstream musical streaming sites like Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud have made the past decade of young listeners perhaps the most musically literate generation yet. This is not just because of music’s new easy and relatively inexpensive access, it also has to do with the seemingly infinite array of artists and genres now at our fingertips. The death of the record and the CD (though these seem to be having somewhat of a mini-comeback) and the subsequent birth of the streaming service also made it possible for a kind of musical mobility: everyone now has access to their music via their cell phone or computer. Not only has this made music a much more prevalent aspect of our everyday lives, it has also made music and music “tastes” a key aspect of young people’s social identities.
Among the consequences of this are young people eager to discuss and share new music. Tik Tok has made this easier in a number of ways, aside from its platform and algorithm based around music and sound, there are also Tik Tokers with huge followings whose shtick is strictly rating and debating new music. It has also led to the creation of new apps like BopDrop, a music sharing app. Though many music streaming services have built-in social aspects (on Spotify, for example you have followers and followings both of profiles and playlists, and SoundCloud has a similar platform), BopDrop is not a music streaming service in the strict definition of the term. What sets the Chicago based start-up apart from other music apps is its basis in musical debate and discussion. Users create a profile (this includes a profile picture, a cover photo, and a brief bio) and then can post one song each day to their “stream”. The song goes into the larger BopDrop stream (making it possible for other BopDrop users to see your song), and then into your followers stream (comparable to your Instagram feed where you can see what your followers are posting and your followers can see what you are posting). Each song post has options for likes, comments, shares, and “sends” meaning you can share the song to another BopDrop user. Though the song post is only a thirty second preview of the song itself (some previews are better than others), the app also lets you connect to your Spotify or Apple Music account so you can open the song in your streaming app and listen to it in its entirety.
What struck me as uniquely special about this app when I first downloaded it is the willingness of people to like and comment on other’s songs; the app has successfully drawn people who want to find new music, share the music they like, and enter into friendly discussions with strangers whose taste they acknowledge is similar. Not only this, but the incredible diversity of genres and artists on other user’s profiles was staggering. An Elton John song on Monday is followed by a Kodak Black song on Tuesday and a Beach House song on Wednesday. I think this is one of the benefits of having only one song post per day: that people are forced to pick one really good song. The result is a personalized stream of songs people love and want you to love.
I suspect the rising popularity of apps like Bop-Drop (which I am sure will be imitated by other entrepreneurs soon) reflects a rise in musical identities. People, especially of the younger generation, are eager to share and find new music because music has become so much a part of who you are.
What bands you listen to, how many artists you know, what albums you like, how much of a variety your musical library reflects are becoming increasingly popular ways for young people to orient themselves among each other and within mainstream culture. In many ways, having a similar music taste to someone has become a basis for friendship in a way that it wasn’t in the past. The brilliance of an app like Bop-Drop is that they are aware of this new development and are making communities for these musical friendships possible.