The year is 1998 and the Swedish Communication Minister Ines Uusman says in one of the biggest newspapers that the Internet is just s trend that will soon die, or like we say in Swedish the internet is just a fly. In reality, she didn’t, the reporter was making a good selling headline. But she is forever associated with it. This is what she really said:
“ I do not dare to have a very definite opinion, but I do not think that people, in the long run, will want to spend as much time, as it actually takes, surfing the net. Sitting and surfing the net takes a whole lot of time. What is it good for? Maybe it's something that has grown up now. Everyone talks about the internet, but maybe it's temporary and then the focus becomes more specified.”
Of course she has been mocked over the past twenty years just like we did with Digital Equipment Corporation founder Ken Olsen’s famous quote in 1977; “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home." Today we even carry around our computers in our pockets.
More and more people are now looking to get out from there. I see the trend inside the music industry as well. Suddenly there are groups of people giving tip-offs about new artists and how to consume their music so the computers don’t understand how you are doing it. Like an elite that wants to shield themselves off from the algorithm.
I would like to do that too. The algorithm is really not my musical friend. It seems it’s programmed with preconceptions that a person of my age should not listen to new music instead go back and find something from the 90’s and blare that through the speakers. I really feel that the algorithm is keeping me away from finding new cool stuff.
Take Bad Bunny for example, well he is not cool, but he really doesn’t show up in my internet bubble. The only reason I know about him is that I look through top lists and find him. I have checked out several things but hell no the algorithm is like, no you are too old for this you should not even consider reading or listening to anything with Bad Bunny, here is Vengaboys as a suggestion again.
Maybe the more influential people, no I’m not talking about the degraded people on Tiktok with too many followers. I’m talking about an intellectual elite that meets, in reality, to set trends in motion. They do exist, I got invited to be one not so long ago, even if I wonder why they want me in since I just listened to Vengaboys and Las Ketchup in a row because my Algorithm suggested that.
Maybe the internet is just the cesspool for a totally lost generation fed with really bad choices inside a personal echo chamber. Maybe it’s outside the internet that everything will happen.
Suddenly Ken’s words are not that strange, is there really a reason to have all the music in the world a button away if you have a totally ignorant guide in the form as an algorithm to find the things you really like?
Like Freddy sang, I want to break free. If anyone remembers that?
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. In 2021, he worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes futureechoes.se/. Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the newly launched Record World International.