I’ve recently been having an internal battle with myself over returning to physical media. For a while I’ve been almost exclusively digital aside from my games console. I’m starting to regret that decision, but I also know that in some places the choice wasn’t really a choice at all.
I could get into the arguments of licences vs ownership, and in a draft of this blog entry I had, but I won’t. That’s an ultimately political post and I don’t want this to be an ideals-centric soapbox moment. Suffice to say that the most profitable model shifting from a product to a service and faster internet speeds means that online delivery is most cost (and space) effective. But in the search for efficiency and profit, I believe we lost something.
My parents have a wooden storage bench they call Archer’s Trunk. It’s a huge, solid wood container, stained into brown-black with little nicks on it coloured in with permanent marker. On it is a lamp, a fabric runner and (I think) a statue of an eagle for some odd reason. In it is their entire joint records collection alongside tapes, with a CD ‘tower’ next to the player filled with CDs. In comparison, I have a stack of a half-dozen discs, a folder of ‘acquired’ music on my PC, and a Spotify subscription.
Bang for buck I have a better deal, but the more pertinent question is who has the more (or better quality) enjoyment of experiencing the music? For me, it’s a click away and I can have it playing all around my flat as part of my subscription. For my parents, they have a curated collection that is steeped in memories because they took the deliberate act of seeking that music out. Even if they heard it on the radio first, they hunted for that LP or tape in stores, or swapped with friends or bought and sold via local ads. Within a generation or two we took a hobby that can take a lifetime to fulfil and turned it into a £9.99 all-you-can-hear service.
What I’m trying to say, is that I think we’ve lost some sort of intangible value in our hunt for convenience. I have my late Nana’s record player now with the stereo she bought it with in 1999; an early birthday present for me from my parents. I’m going to follow in their foorsteps, because while I enjoy my music, something is missing.
In making the world spin that little bit faster, maybe we left something beautiful behind.