There are two concepts that I find important when listening to music that are ill-supported by the features of Spotify, my preferred platform for listening to music. (I’ve given up on owning music, with some regret.)
The distinction between an album and the songs within it.
Spotify allows you to save songs to your library. If you use the save feature on an entire album, each song within it is “liked” and saved to your library. But the “album/list of songs” distinction is an important one: sometimes I want to mark an entire album as significant to me, while only singling out some songs within it. To listen to a whole album is one experience, to listen to favourite songs out of their album’s context is another.
The importance of silence.
Listening to music is enhanced considerably by leaving space for silence throughout the experience, whether after each song, after each album, or after some other interval. The length of this silence matters, too. Without manual intervention (which usually involves getting off a bed or a couch and turning to some digital device), I can’t leave space for reflection after a piece of music—I must interrupt my reflective moment to silence the song, before Spotify moves me to the next one.
There are other parallels between a music library and a physical library that are also absent—namely, physical objects that remind you of their presence, so you’re aware of and can see the extent of the music you care about, physical objects that you can rearrange at will to tell a certain story about you and your life—but this is more a failing of digital media than of any one digital music platform.