Music streaming services provide people with access to vast libraries of music, but also encourage certain patterns of consuming music. In this article I use Spotify as a case and investigate the action potentials for exploring and archiving music. The personal role of music implies we may expect the ‘will to archive’ to be prevalent even if these archives are not based on individual ownership. First, an analysis of Spotify suggests the machine agency of Spotify pushes people towards exploring music, whereas archiving features are material and depend of human action. Spotify is hence skewed towards prompting users to explore rather than archive music. Next, an analysis of 23 focus-group interviews suggests that users value opportunities to explore music, yet their practices are equally directed towards archiving music. Theoretically, this article delineates how objects with machine agency are different from material objects in terms of affordances. The action potentials of material objects are symmetrically constituted by what the objects provide relative to an active being. The action potentials of objects with machine agency interfere with this symmetry: the machine is designed to act on behalf of the human being, making certain affordances more perceivable than others.
Pushing music: People’s continued will to archive versus Spotify’s will to make them explore