How Has Streaming Affected our Identities as Music Collectors?

From Medium:

Music rarely exists in a vacuum. From classical concert programs and 12-track albums to DIY mixtapes and personal record shelves, we imbue songs with new meaning by connecting them to each other, by treating them as elements of a wider, self-constructed narrative.

We are music collectors by design and by necessity—an identity threatened by the rise of streaming.

In previous decades, physical formats like CDs, vinyl, cassettes and 8-tracks required us to limit our music consumption, if only to keep our wallets in shape. We didn’t just throw money and time at music left and right, but rather invested more wisely in a handful of albums and artists, with whom we developed intimate relationships through repeated listens and colorful liner notes. Filling our binders and shelves with these records also facilitated a more positive, aspirational side of our aesthetic identities: we set tangible, attainable goals for our collections, and could show off these works in progress to our friends and family whenever they visited for dinner.

The three recent stages of digital disruption in music — which can be bookmarked by Napster, iTunes and Spotify — have made our collections more public, more granular and more abstract, respectively.

. . . .

iTunes unbundled the standard album into its individual tracks, enabling users to handpick their favorite songs and assemble a wider-reaching collection with a higher concentration of artists over the same amount of [virtual] surface area. Spotify not only has made musical shelf space infinite, but has also made the term “shelf space” irrelevant: its users own nothing. Instead, they pay for access, shelling out the rough cost equivalent of 12 CDs per year ($9.99 a month) to peruse millions of songs at their fingertips.

. . . .

Any effort on our part to seize control of our music collecting habits away from these streaming services ultimately feels burdensome and futile.

Link to the rest at Medium

PG was interested the the similarities and differences between streaming services and ebooks. He notes that music embodied in some physical form that is sold to listeners has become mostly irrelevant to the music business.

13 thoughts on “How Has Streaming Affected our Identities as Music Collectors?”

  1. “Any effort on our part to seize control of our music collecting habits away from these streaming services ultimately feels burdensome and futile.”

    * Looks at wall unit filled with burned CDs of my music.*

    Whatever you say, pal.

    • Yeah just because most people have switched to streaming services doesn’t mean the rest of us feel our music collections “burdensome and futile”. This is just some guy’s impressions of his own musical history written as though it applies to everyone.

  2. meh. I still listen to the same music I did 10 years ago. I have tons of cds that I’ve converted to mp3 and mp4 and I have an old ipod that still works. I don’t need to buy anything.

    Our public library also sells donated cds for a dollar. I’ve told them to close their doors and shut off the lights when they see my husband coming.

    Music I can listen to over and over. A book I tend to read only once.

    • Exactly. Except for the books I do read over and over. As much as I love my ereader, there are still books I will buy in paper.

      But music gets much more frequent re-use, as well as being smaller and easier to store and move than books. I usually buy CDs at secondhand bookstores.

  3. I would hate for CDs to disappear. If I were restricted to only what plays on the radio–if I never got to listen to album cuts–I’d have missed out on some of my favorite songs.

    • I love both Youtube and Soundcloud for /finding/ new music to fall in love with, but streaming? I found some interesting music on Pandora but I didn’t find the trailer music I most love – i.e. Two Steps From Hell, Jo Blankenburg, Audiomachine, etc – so I’ll just keep on buying the music I want. Format no longer matters.

  4. If your identity is limited to being a music collector… the problem isn’t streaming, it’s that you need to get a life.

  5. I can be a music collector, and an ebook collector, and a pulp collector, and a board gamer, and read every day, and still have time for a life, a full time job, and reading this blog.
    I fail to see the problem you speak of.

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