In an age where corporate entities are trying to not only grab, but hold, a global audience's attention, giving you the most bang for your buck is one key factor that these conglomerates revolve around mastering. Their marketing schemes are second-to-none. Whether it's Apple producing aesthetically pleasing commercials that feel like they're from Blade Runner 2049, or AT&T putting their most attractive and capital-T Thickest store worker front-and-center, these companies know what captures the attention of a 20-something-year-old sitting alone on a couch in their apartment.
I myself have fallen victim to the dagger that is modern branding on countless occasions. If you were to rifle through my wardrobe, you'd think I belong to some sort of "Just Do It" cult. I am, and truly always have been, a sucker for particular brands. I believe the majority of our generation is in the same boat as me on this trip, but the specific sought-after and glorified brand is completely dependent on the individual.
For me personally, the brands that I've fallen in love with over the last 10 or so years have been Nike, Apple and HBO. Over the years, some companies have came and went, while others have stuck around longer than others and still hold place in my everyday rotation. For example, I'm now a subscriber to six different streaming services for television: Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu and Criterion.
Now, that isn't to say that I personally pay for all of those services, because the modern man has to be adept at finessing the plug. But, with that being said, I am a determining factor in subscriptions being renewed, whether it's my money going towards the account or not. And I've come to the realization over the last year or so that I perhaps wasn't getting the most value out of my subscriptions that I could've been.
When I asked a dear friend to suggest some podcasts to me, they rattled off six or seven episodes of podcasts that I had no idea were floating amongst the overwhelming abyss of content. I've also been one of those people in the past who others have gone to for podcasting suggestions—apart from our own podcast, listen to The Fro and The Flow here—and I was unable to successfully suggest any new channels that I knew they hadn't already given a chance. This was solely because my aforementioned dear friend uses Spotify—a service that suggests podcasts relative to the ones you've been listening to, including both new channels and older episodes that they know you might've missed. I, on the other hand, was an Apple Music subscriber, so I used the "Podcasts" app for all of my semi-famous-people-talking-to-me-through-my-AirPods ventures.
Now, I could've used Spotify for my podcast enjoyment even without paying for their service, which was nice. But my inherent stubbornness wouldn't allow me to because I was so devoted to the aesthetic superiority that Apple had to offer. I loved the bright-white background that simply said, "Good morning, it's time for a quick episode of NPR's Up First to start your day." But after so many frustrating times of swiping down and refreshing the Podcasts app with nothing new to show for, I mindlessly, but subconsciously, intentionally wandered over to Spotify to see what they had to offer in the podcast department. Before I knew it, I'd listened to over two hours' worth of podcasts from my favorite channels, and they were episodes from three, four, or even five years ago that I had no idea existed.
If it weren't for Spotify, I never would have known that there was a Greta Gerwig interview with my favorite modern movie reviewer, Lord Fennessey, at my disposal. Lady Bird is a movie I've talked about for hours on end and has evolved into one of my five favorite movies of all-time over the years, and Apple couldn't have given less of a shit about that fact. Spotify somehow knew to scroll deep into their own pit of audio content and offer this to me after I'd finished a more recent episode of The Big Picture.
Once I determined that it'd be not only more beneficial, but far more convenient, to have all of my music and podcasts stored in the same location, I made the switch to Spotify. Despite my stupid preference for meaningless intricacies like "aesthetic," which has literally nothing to do with the quality of a product intended for service, I grew up and switched over. Now, this isn't to say that I don't still suffer from that same brand-obedient lifestyle—because I did just purchase a MacBook Air without even giving Windows or Samsung a chance—but I think it's safe to say that I'm growing in the right direction. I'm learning to prioritize the intentional quality of something over my own diluted and inherently biased perceptive quality.