A few years ago when Spotify came out my first impulse was to do a few quick searches to see how comprehensive their library was. One of my first searches was for 4'33 and while I was pleased to see it was there I was surprised to hear how noisy it was. It was a first glimpse into the alternate musical universe of Spotify where classic 60s albums have release dates of 2006 and Straight Outta Compton can play with "clean" lyrics you never knew existed.
John Cage's most famous work has always been about the context in which it's listened to: the sounds of the hall or an audience shifting in their seats and coughing. A "room tone" for lack of a better term.
The same is true when listening to 4'33 on Spotify. For reasons unknown - and unlike on iTunes or Amazon - the work throws Spotify's audio encoder for a loop. In a sense 4'33 gives a physical form to something that's always been invisible, allowing us to hear for the first time the sounds of Spotify's audio encoder.
And when playing the three different movements of 4'33 as separate songs the experience can also be interrupted by ads, which extends the listening time to over 5 minutes.
It's gratifying to see 4'33 work so well on Spotify. It gives it a room tone.