Published on May 8th, 2017 | by Alan Cross4
Music in the Age of Streaming: To Own or Just Access? (Hint: You Can Pry Physical Music from My Cold Dead Hands)
I’m at the tail end of consolidating my home office into a newly-renovated basement HQ. For the first time in decades, all my music–vinyl, CDs, digital files, box sets and even cassettes–will be in the same place.
I have a lot of stuff. A lot. And I can’t imagine not owning it. Sure, I stream a ton of music, but there’s something satisfying–comforting–knowing that my music is safely stored in physical form in my home. And I’m not alone. This is from Mashable.
I’m not some snob with my nose totally upturned to streaming — as I type these words, I’m jamming out to my Ryan Adams station on Pandora. I love discovering new jams via algorithm, and Spotify’s new music page is one of the first things I check out on Friday mornings.
I can appreciate the power and convenience that comes along with streaming music. It’s intoxicating to be able to pull up just about every song ever recorded instantly, wherever and whenever you want. That’s one of the reasons streaming overtook digital sales last year for the first time ever — physical music sales were left in the dust back in 2011.
But for me, that power is too much far-ranging, and too impersonal. Everyone can have that same experience, while I still think of music I dedicate my attention to as mine.
The way that I listen to music makes me more likely to want to own it, too. I’m not a playlist fiend like most of my friends — I tend to listen to albums all the way through, in the gym, at home, everywhere. I appreciate the care that went into the organization and presentation of someone’s art.
It’s not that I’m a format snob. MP3, MP4, FLAC — they’re all a mishmash of letters and numbers to me. I’m as happy listening to a sketchy download as a vinyl record on my stereo system.
Read on. Anyone want to weigh in?