2011 is the year I came to terms with the inevitable decline of physical media. I’m behind the curve on this, but my worship of audio fidelity, physical portability and consumer freedom have held me back. Three factors have changed my curmudgeonly, compact disc hoarding ways: Bandcamp, Google Music and cheap hard disk space.
Google Music has drastically changed my listening habits at work. Instead of being stuck with the same set of albums on my portable device all day, I have my entire music collection in front of me. For all intents and purposes, Google Music looks exactly like my CD racks. Google Music did, however, force me to convert all of my music to 320 kbps MP3 files. Since I already had my music in FLAC, this was a triviality of CPU horsepower and disk space.
Sure, I still like to sit and admire the loaded, looming CD racks in my living room. But my house isn’t getting any bigger, and my hard drives are. Despite the best efforts of flooding in Thailand, hard drive space is still ridiculously cheap. I’m now able to store my entire music collection in three formats and back it all up correctly. Yes, I’m a bit loony.
Somewhere in the confluence of these factors, I made a mental leap. I started to regard my “music collection” as something greater than the physical shelves of CDs. The bits are ubiquitous enough to have changed my idea of ownership. I now feel just as comfortable buying an album from Bandcamp as I do purchasing a CD.
I’m never going to get rid of my CD collection, and I certainly won’t stop buying them; I probably just won’t buy quite as many. Now the rest of the record labels just need to get a clue and sell music through Bandcamp; my dollars are waiting.
As an aside, this excellent blog is an incredibly useful, ongoing summation of all the metal to be found on Bandcamp.