For the past couple of days I have been exploring my music collection intently. I took out my CD cases of music I purchased during my Columbia Records days where enough just wasn't enough. And somewhere between ordering through Columbia Records and shopping the used CD collection at local music stores, I acquired a fair amount of music. There are still a number of CDs that I have not uploaded into iTunes and I am making no plans to upload unless I really must.
It might be common to now bypass music stores and go straight to iTunes, Amazon MP3, and BitTorrent to (legally) acquire the latest album and/or song(s) of the artist(s) you prefer. As recognized in the New York Times article We Want It, and Waiting Is No Option, no one under the age of 40 is actually browsing manually through CDs much less actually purchasing them at store.
I am a person under the age of 40 who would be manually browsing through CDs and more than likely purchase a few CDs. To me there is no replacing a CD with an album download from iTunes. I am actually a bit unsettled with music I have purchased online feeling that it has been made too easy to consume many when all I originally wanted was one album. Yes, I cannot deny it is great to have access to albums that you might not find in your typical music store, but perhaps that is the point that needs to be addressed.
Maybe searching and finding the CD, the actual physical object, is the true satisfaction. The joy is being stripped of taking pleasure in the pursuit of music. On one hand, everything is more available and we are given suggestions, alerts to new albums, free downloads for certain singles, etc. On the other hand, we give up the physical object, CD inserts (written lyrics included), album artwork (not the same on my tiny nano screen) and perhaps most importantly patience and appreciation in the pursuit of music.
In the past week, I was introduced to an exceptional album that was made known to me in a recent playlist discussion. Jeff Buckley's Grace album. Much thanks to my dear friend who opened up my ears to the album. I love it, it is a favorite of mine now and forever. Without thought I quickly went to iTunes and purchased the album immediately and spent the rest of the evening listening to the album repeatably.
I question how much of a difference it would have made had I went to the store to purchase the album. Would I have found it at the store? Living in a small town in Indiana the chances are maybe I wouldn't have. I do know that part of the joy of actually going to the store, searching and having the excitement of unwrapping while also frustratingly taking off stickers was a missing element. I was also unable to listen to the album while looking over the CD insert to find lyrics, notes, acknowledgments, pictures, copyright notices, etc. What am I truly missing out on when I purchase an album online as opposed to physically obtaining the album at a music store?
I will dare to say it is more than giving up the physical object. I am giving up bits of patience, joy, appreciation, thoughtfulness and giving every bit more into consumerism: wanting it all, having it now and the thoughtless pursuit of consumption because I can. I am not banishing music downloads to add in my music collection. Instead, I have decided I will take back the pursuit of music by first going to my local music store, than if needed a chain store before I finally decide to download the music. My prediction is I will regain a little bit of patience, joy, appreciation and thoughtfulness in the pursuit. I will truly appreciate it, have it in my hands instead of on my hard drive and thereby take one less thing for granted.