Monday, October 03, 2011

The Virtual Music Sort

Yesterday I shared how the rise of e-books impacted the way I organize my library. A similar thing has happened with music, too. As I've mentioned elsewhere, my decision to purchase a tangible CD has more to do with the rarity of the music than any opposition to online media.

With the advent of streaming services such as Mog, Spotify, and even (to a certain extent) Pandora, one might wonder if there's any need to purchase music -- either in physical or digital form -- ever again.

I think the answer depends on what you mean by music, and how you listen to it.

For most people (at least most people I know), music is something that's a convenience rather than a passion. They're perfectly happy listening to the popular artists in their preferred genres, and a large subset of them are even happier just hearing the hits.

So for those folks, (assuming they have ready Internet access) it doesn't really make sense to own music anymore. Like Classic Rock? You can hear "Sweet Home, Alabama" any time you want online -- so why buy the track?

These services are great for those who want to dig deeper, too. There's a lot of less familiar and more esoteric stuff available. But go too far, and you hit the licensing wall. Not every song by every artist (even the most popular ones) ia available. And for someone like me, that can be a real problem.

So here's my current deal: big names and charting songs I'll just access from the cloud. But that collection of early 1960's British girl groups? I better pick that one up when I see it. Because, based on experience, one or two tunes from that compilation might show up in a service, but not all of them. And the only way I'll get to hear those songs is if I own a copy.

So if you visit my home and take a peek at my CD collection, you'll probably see a lot of names you don't recognize, and some gaping holes where those artists that "everybody loves" should be. But that's simply because those artists are readily available, and most of the artists I own CDs of aren't.

With limited funds and storage space, one has to make choices!

(How do I know which obscure artists and songs are worth spending money on? That's a discussion we'll save for another day!)

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