As someone who remembers CDs, vinyl and even cassettes I have much fondness for the mediums that music has traditionally been housed within. Mini discs were cool, cassettes were convenient and vinyl offers of the emotion I need in a traditional format alongside a sound that is hard to replicate anywhere else.
None of that matters now because we have streaming music that can be purchased for a relatively small amount of money each month. Something I have long despised because to me it always felt as though this collective renting of music somehow lessened the importance of each album, of each song and ultimately of each artist.
I know that it is not good for many artists and that it is fine for the big hitters who are already very successful, but we are in a time where the charts are less important and where artists make their money from touring, and where we are gradually all moving to the invisible format of streaming to get our music fix.
I listen to music a lot these days and actually more than I did in the past. I need it to a) help me concentrate at work when I need to spend some time on a difficult problem and to b) drown out certain annoyances at work that stop me from getting things done and c) when I am writing anything I have to have music playing all of the time and all the way to z I could probably find reasons.
My playlists ready and waiting in any device, the ease of capturing new music and experimenting with what I have missed in the past few decades and what people are discovering now, streaming feels like the right fit for me now.
It could be an age thing- many older people took a long time to move to smartphones, apart from us geeks, and the same is try for all new technologies. I am guessing that there is a graph or study somewhere that exactly correlates your age to the speed at which you adopt new things. For every year older you are, there will be a set time period in which you take longer to adapt to new ways.
I have adapted to the new form of music delivery now and cannot imagine going back, and for me the cost feels about right. There is still that thought in my mind that I am merely renting access which I will have to do forever more to be able to play music, but what is the alternative? The alternative is stepping back and realising that not everything was better in the past.
I dunno, streaming still feels weird to me – I love this golden age of being able to instantly buy just the A-side or the promising B-side from an artist and not worry about spending my money or time for a bunch of filler tracks to make up an album… (Props to those who argue for the album is the most worthy experience… that’s never been my experience with music) And I hope the popularity of streaming doesn’t damage my ability to buy single tracks, because the prospect of losing all my music if I decide to stop paying seems really weird.
When I look to what I might be missing out on streaming, the only thing I can think of is music discovery. But I keep my ears open (epecially in trailers and HBO-style shows) and Shazam at the ready, and so find about 10-20 new pieces a month that I add to my rolling “new music playlist”. So probably the money is similar to streaming, but I feel like I have more permanent ownership. (Not to mention if I make an effort to locate a way of paying for a piece but still have to resort to seedy ripping methods, that’s no problem, and I can still add it to my playlist)
If it makes you feel better about streaming and the seediness of “renting music” – I’d say there’s a big historical precedent with the tradition of music radio broadcasts (err, I have no idea what the UK/BBC experience was for music, but I’m guessing it’s not unrecognizable to me)
As for the age and adapting to new technology thing – I really do wonder. Is my generation (mid-40s) better at the technology it kind of grew up with, that entered our lives when our brains and habits were not yet so fossilized, or have we become accustomed to the rate of tech change, better able to surf each subsequent wave of gadget and interface as it comes crashing in at a faster and faster pace?