Krukowski boils down this concept very simply by saying that “even yesterday’s hits end up in the dollar bin eventually.” Popularity is fleeting and the powerful will stick to whatever is popular and making them money. Most physical copies of the top ten albums from this year will probably sell for a few dollars in 2050, unless physical copies of music become a collector’s item in the future. Krukowski believes that by going back and looking at things that have been forgotten, we can reuse and reinvent.
Forced Exposure has all of its employees listen to every track on every album they have. This makes the employees experts at helping customers. They are better equipped to introduce something the customer may never have heard before. At Spotify, they are trying to make a “magic music player that knows exactly what you want.” They want the customer to have a continuous flow of music that is similar to what they might like without having to ask.
When I was twelve my TV broke and was unable to show picture, with the exception of a thin line in the middle of the screen. Lucky for me, the TV had a radio setting and I could faintly tell which station it was on based on the think line. For the next few years, whenever I wanted to watch TV I would listen to the radio instead. I was exposed to so much more music then than I am now. I was forced to listen to songs full through or constantly switch stations until I found something I liked, but it vastly broadened my music taste. I love Spotify, but I get tired of listening to songs that fall into the same genre. I do “discover” new music that is similar to my tastes, but it makes it easy to fall into a pattern. I miss hearing something totally out of left field on the radio that I wouldn’t have found if the DJ hadn’t spun it.
Noise is sound in the background, sounds that “you’re not interested in” according to Krukowski’s doctor. Signal is the main sound, the sound “you’re trying to pay attention to.” These terms are the difference between sound that someone wants versus sounds that they don’t.
The point of this episode is to show the significance of noise. We all know the importance of signal, because it’s what we actively choose to focus on each day. Krukowski talks about the background conversation in the Beach Boys song, which I think enriches the song and makes it special. He also talks about how audio engineers concern themselves with removing noise from songs and focusing on the signal as much as they can. In this way, they are controlling what they want us to hear.
Krukowski relates this episode back to each one before it. The imperfections of “real” time add more to the signal than the lack of noise in machine time. Headphones allow everyone to control the signal no matter where they are. Digital transmission on cellphones treats the voice as signal and removes all noise, which in turn removes depth of meaning in phone conversations. Similar to the first episode of Ways of Seeing, streaming strips music of context. Context is noise and the music itself is signal. Finally, in a world where corporations are catering to the individual, they have made everyone a signal, trying not to leave anyone out.