Steven Stone's recent article on streaming was, in my estimation, quite thought provoking. It offered a very different and interesting approach to streaming music and the associated costs. After reading the article, I thought for a minute and asked myself one question - why do I continue to buy music as opposed to streaming?
In large measure, I do try to be as thrifty as possible on the music I purchase. Normally, however, desire for something generally trumps cost. I have purchased CD's for as little as $1.00 and as much as $89.00. Of course, the latter was a rare CD from my youth that I was only able to find as a release from Japan. When the CD arrived, all of the printing was in Japanese characters. While those purchase amounts are at the opposite ends of extreme, I suppose my median purchase is about $10.00 for a physical CD. LP's are probably more since I got burned a few times with used albums and really prefer new LP's. But I do purchase used depending on the artist, title and the condition of the LP as I am able to see in the store.
Streaming opens a whole new and different dynamic for me. I have Sonos connected to my DAC so technically; I am able to stream music. However, streamed music available to me is basically Mp3 and not anything with high enough resolution to entice me to turn off my music server. Because I am not currently subscribed to any service, regardless of the resolution, I have to endure commercials for anything I do stream. So the sonic quality coupled with commercials has essentially left my interest in streaming waning just a bit. I certainly realize and understand I can correct both those conditions very easily. Can you say Tidal? So far, I haven't taken the plunge.
Finding places to purchase CD's does not, at least for now, seem to be so problematic a task. Local merchants that sell physical music may still be readily found. As far as online is concerned, Amazon is both well known and often used for purchased music. Frankly, I enjoy using Amazon. As a Prime member, I can order a CD and it will usually arrive two days later. That, coupled with the convenience of not having to drive anywhere makes this a very desired outlet to buy music. In the recent past, I have additionally found several online retailers that not only had something a little hard to find, but also displayed more than adequate customer service. Lastly, there are the download and audiophile services such as HD Tracks, Elusive Disc and all the rest known to most audiophiles.
As a cost comparison to streaming, I tried to determine how many CD's and LP's I purchase monthly on average. This proved more difficult a task than I imagined. My main problem is that I pay with cash when making local purchases so credit card records don't exist. I suppose I could have gone back through Amazon's order history but that doesn't show the entire picture. That left my curiosity in the amount of purchased music unresolved.
Another issue I have with streaming is I am simply not convinced of the sonic equivalency of music copied to, and played back through my music server and DAC. Of course the fly in the ointment of all of this is that I really haven't embraced streaming in the manner required to provide optimal sonic quality. That basically makes any argument I might have with myself moot. You shouldn't criticize what you haven't yet tried. It's sort of like not tasting a dish for the first time simply because you don't like the way it looks. Then again, I've done that as well.
The fact remains, I'm still dubious of streaming beyond a method to learn about new music - and if I enjoy said music to such as degree as to warrant it's purchase. It also has nothing what so ever to do with the cost. In regard to Tidal, for instance, the $20.00 per month doesn't concern me at all. So when I consider all of this the obvious question is why not go ahead and sign up for Tidal and see what it is all about? Maybe I'll like it?
So perfectly logical in its proposition and so wholly difficult in it's execution.
Streaming seems to me to proffer more questions than answers. I've read countless comments on various web sites and the number of respondents who do not embrace streamed music is far more than I would imagine. What is their reluctance to streaming? Are their concerns similar to my own?
At this point, I recognize that music derived over the Internet is how, sometime in the future, we will probably obtain the predominance of digital music. There will likely come a time when a physical CD will be very hard to find. Oddly enough, I don't see that happening with LP's. There is little reason to assume that LP's popularity will not continue to grow. However, the digital landscape is changing so quickly that knowing or predicting the future is still a very difficult enterprise.
I suppose my main reluctance to streaming is that I have just not been inspired to move the needle. My current musical methodology has been working for me and I've not seen a convincing reason to change. Besides, I routinely find music I already own that I have not heard in a very long time. When that happens, it's almost like having new music. At the end of it all, I simply don't have an identifiable, justifiable reason to explain my reluctance to streaming. I can talk myself blue in the face why I should and then do the same for why I don't. I suspect I'm just a little stuck in my ways, antiquated or not. Maybe I'm not yet willing to embrace new digital technologies. Or perhaps I'm just not yet ready to take the proverbial taste of a dish that, at least to me, simply doesn't look very appetizing.