Thanks, Spotify, for Making Music Christmas Gifts Totally Impossible

Categories: It's 2013

Merry Christmas! Hope you like teen and middle-aged-lady clothing outlets.
Deep inside Spotify headquarters, at this very moment, some poor marketing team is tasked with the idea of making Spotify gift accounts sound like a good idea for a Christmas present. I know this because I am too cheap to pay to make the Spotify ads go away.

So far they've been wise enough not to try to dramatize the actual gift-giving act, because that's where the whole thing would fall apart. "Merry Christmas, person for which I'm trying to communicate my affection. I got you all the songs. For a month. None in particular, just--"

Anyone who's been to a shrinking shopping mall this season knows the problem: As physical media vanishes, and more pieces of our lives live as files on a few very expensive computers, there just isn't much to wrap anymore.

Books, CDs, video games -- all the gifts that say "You are a person I feel obligated to buy a gift for, and I know something about your hobbies" can now be downloaded more easily than they can be picked up. Eventually, the mall will just be a hundred boutiques for middle-aged female executives wrapped around a Build-a-Bear Workshop, which will sell sharp-looking teddy pantsuits and 3D printers so that you can build your own bear the next time.

So what's the answer? What do you get for the music fan who already has nothing?

1. Spotify. Don't do this. It's like a cheese-of-the-month club membership where the card says, "Pick any cheese you like, or whatever." Their only physical interaction with the gift will be scratching foil off a confirmation code with their car keys.

2. Concert tickets are a nice idea, and they make a good physical impression coming out of a gift bag, but the implicit time commitment might put a strain on your near-friendship.

Going to a concert together isn't just high-fiving in the middle of that song you both like, even if that's the image that drove you to StubHub in the first place -- it's driving out to the venue, apologizing for your inability to parallel park, waiting around for the opening act to finish playing its 10-minute song about the Middle East, and then driving back bleary-eyed and awkward when it's finished, after midnight.

Implicitly, this gift is saying, "Merry Christmas: I think the best thing you've got going for you next month involves spending five hours or so with me." So make sure that sounds fun, instead of terrible, before you jump on those Reel Big Fish tickets.

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My Voice Nation Help

I disagree.  I gave my dad a Spotify membership for his birthday this year and he LOVES IT.  He would have never found it otherwise and it's almost all he listens to now.  It's a gift that I've been giving him for 6 months now and will continue to just pay for for as long as he uses it, and I've received several thank yous for it because he's enjoyed it so much. 

Gifts are a pretty personal thing, so while you may not want to give Spotify as a gift because you think it's important that you give someone something specific that you already know they like, I gave my dad the gift of discovering artists that he didn't know existed, and now likes.  I'd say that's a pretty amazing gift.

Leroy Laroche
Leroy Laroche

Not for vinyl collectors and people who actually still buy music physically. I still go out and buy records.

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