About two years ago; I made a pretty big decision regarding the medium of my media. I was tired of re-purchasing music, not having it when I wanted it, not being able to enjoy it as much as I wanted to, or simply not being able to find it. Something had to change, and ultimately; I decided to skip the middle man and go with an Old School/New School music library.
I can’t really blame my hatred for the compact disc on the medium itself; but on my inability to care for, organize, or preserve it. I was a habitual offender of tossing CDs around until they were quickly un-listenable, misplacing them for months at a time, stacking them in piles on my desk without their protective cases, or letting them slide between the shifter and driver’s seat of whatever I was driving at the time; often resulting in the re-purchase of many of my favorite albums over, and over again (you’re welcome music industry.) After rendering an irreplaceable CD useless (Eric Hutchinson’s Before I sold out) I decided I needed a better way to manage my music. My brother, who has the largest collection of CDs of anyone I know, gladly took the mismatched, uncared for, mostly unusable collection of compact discs off my hands to attempt to salvage what he could – I was ready to start over.
I needed a better way of doing things; my newly acquired iPhone made part of this decision rather easy. The convenience of being able to carry my music collection in my pocket wherever I went was awesome; and a lot easier than carrying a backpack full of CDs. Adding in perks like internet radio, and the mobile iTunes store clearly led the way to maintaining my music digitally. Being a huge fan of live recordings; I’ve found that digital recordings (obtained legally through artists taping policy of course, I love that they still call them ‘tape’ policies) are readily available online and are typically free. There is also a lot of music that is exclusivity digital… many up and coming, local, or generally unknown artists, often give away free downloads in return for signing up for mailing lists, or as perks of coming to a show. A lot of artists release ‘iTunes exclusives’ as well. So if I want to listen to Matt Nathanson’s acoustic version of ‘to the beat of our noisy hearts’ I can quickly pull it up on my iPhone and enjoy his sweet melodies wherever I am. Lucky for me, Matt’s latest release: Modern Love was available in both old and new school mediums.
There are a few downsides to going purely digital, however. Hearing an amazing new song on Pandora, and clicking the ‘buy on iTunes’ button is nothing short of convenient (and a genius moneymaker for the record label I’m sure.) But what if there is an even better track on that record? One that the producers, executives, and program directors might have missed. There is a good chance that I’d miss that track too. Unless I bought the whole record. Being able to dial in any specific song I’d like to hear, or simply putting 5,000 songs on shuffle is convenient, but it is nearly impossible to appreciate the art of a record on a 4 inch screen, without liner notes.
Artists and Bands, the good ones anyway, craft albums as single entities. Sure, it may consists of 10 or 12 individual tracks; but the album, as a whole, is a work of art in itself. A quality album, in my book, can be listened to cover to cover without the need to skip a track – this is where vinyl shines. I started to collect vinyl before I had a record player – I thought they looked cool on a shelf; and figured that someday I’d get around to actually purchasing a turntable. I wasn’t in a rush to get one because I thought it would be more of a novelty than anything else. When I inevitably bought one; my world changed. I now look forward to finding an hour or so to turn everything else off, put a record on, and enjoy the collection of songs as the creator intended. Now, two years later, my music collection of about 50 12 inch LPs, 40 or so 7 inch EPs and promos, and 5000+ digital songs, is growing nicely, and just what I needed. If you have a collection of unwanted CDs – my brother will, most likely, gladly take them off your hands… just don’t tell his wife.