Thursday, January 3, 2013

Music, Now Rentable

The solution for any avid music collector like me (old enough to be referred to as a record collector, but, still) is to no longer purchase music at all - simply rent it. No storage, no risk of loss, no loss of quality. It goes against every fiber in my being - and I eat a lot of fiber.

This isn't a vinyl diatribe; I'm not that old. I did, briefly, purchase 45's for that jukebox I always swore I'd buy. Considering how many times I have moved, it's a good thing I didn't. I do miss combing the bins, make no mistake, as well as some of the best radio stations (WLIR/DRE on Long Island in the '80s, along with Rhode Island's WBRU; Atlanta's 99X and WRAS in the '90s, amazing shows like Tampa's Dark Horizons on WMNF (now podcasting) and WOXY online in the 2000s). And I have suffered the indignities of re-purchasing my music from cassette to cd to digital. Sometimes there are different bonus tracks hiding on the vinyl, the cassette or the cd and you'd have to shell out bucks for all of it if you wanted to be a completist (I'm looking at you, Robert Smith: I paid your mortgage through most of 1989 and 2004).

Pre-recorded music takes up a hell of a lot of room. I scrounged successfully throughout the '80s for strange pieces of furniture to house my cassettes: a wooden three-tiered wine display (slightly tilted forward) was my favorite score. CDs quickly required their own bedroom at the peak of my collector years, to the chagrin of many a roommate/relationship. And my bitterness was always the same, my loathing for the record companies never abated, because they made me purchase entire albums of crap for one good song. 

Towards the end of the '80s, mixtapes became my main vehicle of introduction, identity, affection and art (as well as an effective backup system) well into my compact disc days. Fancying myself a clever deejay, I had endless themes and moods. I also taped off of radio shows (the BBC top 20 countdown on Sunday night were a treasure of tracks I'd never be able to find right away in the U.S.) and bought every "sampler" known to man in the '90s, famished for that one obscure track that would transport my soul to nirvana.

The pops and hisses of vinyl don't send me back as much as the horrible crackling of my walkman eating a cassette tape, or a scratched compact disc skipping into infinity. Seriously, this is what passes for nostalgia.

But that's all dust in my wind here in the 21st century. For the sake of simplicity, space and peace of mind, I have digitized 90% of my music collection, sold what I could get something for, and chucked the rest. The 81.65gb (or, more happily, 43.3 days) of music on my Mac mini (backed up to an external hard drive because the iTunes "cloud" only accepts tracks bought from them, not anything imported) is a testament to both my mania and eclecticism as well as most of my salary for the past 25 years. Will I ever get to the point that I can trust an online jukebox like Spotify to have exactly the tracks I want, when I want? Doubtful.

I am the deejay of my own story and I must maintain some illusion of control. It is an outdated concept, of course, but I believe everyone should own, never rent, their life's story.

1 comment:

  1. I am with you brother. As I have fully embraced digital content I cannot seem to let go of ownership.