Greetings everyone, I’ve been absent from this forum the past few months, been at a bit of a crossroads…wondering if it’s worth buying digital music anymore. I’ve narrowed my thoughts down to a few points, and would love and appreciate if people share their thoughts, views, feelings on this.
The final straw in writing this post today was finding out that Madlib’s Bandana Beats isn’t available on CD and the WAV files will cost $41 on Beatport. Yeah, that’s an absurd amount of money when the Floating Points album last year was 24-bit/96khz and cost something like $8. I hardly buy CDs or hip-hop anymore, but wanted those files for my collection. The other thing that bothered me late last year was paying nearly $20 for Arla I, II, and III by Overmono, XL Recordings has some silly prices too. Even the Instinct 05 release was more than 2 GBP per track, get out of here with that! People are streaming and this dude expects me to pay more than 2 GBP per track?! This goes back to the brilliant How Much Is Too Much? post from last year.
Smaller artists used to put their music on Bandcamp first, whether it was an hour early or a day early. Now I’ve waited days after a Spotify announcement for a release to show up on Bandcamp, meanwhile I’m sitting wondering for days if it will ever even be on Bandcamp. The exceptions I’ve noticed are with Whities who has their Blue 07 available for purchase and download as of February 4 and it won’t be on streaming until February 14. Or West Mineral for example, or Experiences Ltd. with that new Ulla album, those aren’t on streaming at all. There’s nearly no incentive to buy anymore based on exclusivity. I was almost shocked when I went through my Bandcamp purchases and saw that nearly every single release I’ve purchased is on Apple Music and Spotify.
There is just so much music coming at every week that it seems unsustainable to keep buying music. What’s the solution? To buy just what I love? What do y’all do? Doesn’t it feel strange to buy when people are simply streaming?
I remember the days of cassette tapes, the Walkman, and batteries. Unwrapping a tape, opening the artwork. Sure vinyl heads still get that rush, but for some of us that’s not a feasible option. At least buying digital music feels like some sort of physical connection, whereas streaming feels one more step away from a physical connection with the music.
A bunch of artists used to rail against streaming and now they’re the ones putting their music on streaming only and not on Bandcamp anymore, or Bandcamp buyers aren’t first anymore. That’s fine, people evolve, and streaming is responsible for millions of views even for independent artists, and helps their gigs and DJ sets. But the hypocrisy of some musicians to still talk smack about streaming yet post screenshots OF THEIR OWN PHONE of them listening to music on Spotify is just crazy to me.
Last of a dying breed
Who are the people left that are buying music? People like me who want to OWN the music and support the artist as much as possible? DJs who buy single tracks sometimes? Well the DJ purchasers might dwindle in number as well since new DJ equipment in the next few years will be cloud based and streaming. Will that be the end for Bandcamp and the like? What will I do with the music I’ve purchased when the time comes and no option is left but to stream?
Music I like, but don’t love, I’ll listen to on YouTube, or listen to on Bandcamp once or twice, or maybe until the heart sign pops up telling me to buy the release. But having millions of songs at one’s disposable is a tempting proposition.
Streaming is changing music
It’s not just me, this TED Talk says Spotify Is Killing Music even in small ways like artists creating shorter tracks, or less of a buildup in the beginning to grab the listeners’ attention otherwise they won’t be paid if the song is skipped within 30 seconds or something.
All of this might sound silly, but music has been an essential part of my life, my first love, and it bothers me that it’s become sort of disposable, and streaming still almost feels like theft to me. Sure the artists get paid, but on my end it feels like theft, even with a paid subscription service. Maybe I’m just old, not necessarily old school, this feels like the early Napster days to me, even though this is actually legal and licensing and stuff is done correctly.
I’m not sure where to go from here. I was gifted a streaming subscription but even the organization of how I can’t arrange music by year has driven me crazy and made me give up.
Thanks for allowing me this space to rant, I was tempted to even delete my Bandcamp account and delete my music and try not listening to music anymore, but I’m still here and will post like I used to. I’m not sure there is a clear cut solution, or maybe the solution is streaming and that’s why so many are doing it now. I really miss the good old days. Peace and love everyone.