Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Streaming Music

I like to think of myself as an early adopter-type. I had a Twitter account in 2008! I long ago bought a USB turntable to unite my vinyl and digital record collections! I LOVE MP3s!!!

But for some reason I've not fully bought in to the streaming music service wave that has already crashed over the mountains of music artifacts that so many of us have collecting dust in some corner of our houses. I stream music, sure. But I've not been able to think of a streaming service as my primary means of experiencing and gathering new music.

The reason for this is pretty simple, on the surface: I gather. A streaming service means you are not gathering, but experiencing. You can store data (play lists, history, preferences), but the actual music is totally transient. Close your Spotify account? Lose whatever period of your musical development and history has occurred while Spotify was your avenue into music.

Full disclosure: I can be a bit of a packrat. I gather and collect and compile. I don't really fetishize the stuff, framing jackets or getting collector editions or anything like that. But I love a good full bookshelf. So the idea of all the time I spend exploring and acquiring music adding up to only a digital footprint--no full shelves or even their electronic equivalent of a bloated iTunes library--always left me cold.

But I think I'm ready.

I think I see that a streaming service would not have to by the only means of exploring music. I'll never stop browsing the Record Exchange or the many services accessed via RadioBoise. And I'll never stop buying artifacts when something means enough to want to buy it. It's just that the line between transient and permanent could move a bit. A higher standard for what goes on the physical shelf.

So now, the choice. Which one? Spotify? Google Play Music? Apple Music? Tidal? There are so many, and they're so similar, the choice is a difficult one. It'll probably come down to which service connects best to the other services and software I use. So far Spotify has the upper hand, but those others are starting out strong and have much going for them.

What about you? Any input? Preference? Help?

It's a brave new world, and we can all use some guidance.

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