So you say you want to sell your collection of CDs and Vinyl and switch over to the future of Music with Digital Streaming? – Hold on, Not so Fast!

With a glutton of information coming at us from all directions, pertaining to the latest delivery methods of music, it’s no wonder that many of you are tuning out while waiting for the dust to settle before you make a move. You’re being told by the masters of Hype and the Streaming Services (Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Pandora and now Youtube Red) that the future is streaming, with no more worries of having to own hard copies of your music ever again!

I say Not So Fast as there is more to this campaign designed for you to relinquish your ties with your physical music then meets the eye! They simply want to tether you to them!

In this article, I intend on providing you the pros and cons of giving up the ownership of your precious Vinyl and CD collections in return for the promise of worldwide access to your music stored in the cloud, under the lock and key of the streamers.

In some ways you’ve had a taste of the future through I-tunes which gave you the ability to download a song or an album and store it on your I-Pod, I-Phone, alternative digital devise or your computer, making it portable and easy to take wherever you go. You were also able to upload your CDs and Vinyl into your I-tunes allowing you to access your music on your terms.

This was a great aspect of technology clearly responsible for a boom to the music business by rekindling the love of personalization of music by consumers. It worked because they paid for what they wanted, no more, and the music was “easy” to download and access! People today primarily look for ease and are willing to pay it!

Now we have a new platform, Streaming, still under great scrutiny and yet to be fully embraced by all in the music industry for many reasons varying from paltry payments to artists to a luke-warm reception by consumers who have not yet bought into paying a monthly fee to hear their music advert free. They instead, opt to wade through the adverts before each new tune rather then pay.

If you want convenience, then streaming is definitely for you. You’ll get 10’s of millions of songs at your fingertips; personal playlist features and even curation (which I detest) as it entices you to listen to the songs that “Hal from 2001” thinks you’d like to hear! There are some who like this process, seem to enjoy it, but I believe it takes away the last remnants of choice we still have as humans.

The downside is that as much as is offered in the way of endless choices and listening options, you won’t always find every recording that you may want and in fact, they cannot possibly secure them all for the reason that I will now detail.

There were many record labels that had only one or two hits on them and have since gone out of business. That means the masters they owned are gone and left no trace to the legitimate owner, therefore having no legal way to license these songs to be uploaded on a streaming or digital downloading service since they cannot find the rights holder. This means, you as a consumer, may be lucky enough to find them on Vinyl, Cassette or CD to add to your collection and enhance the experience of looking for those hidden and precious lost gems that you might just be fortunate enough to uncover. I know because I still search!

This experience of hunting for music is an exhilarating part of the overall excitement and process leading to the eventual discovery of that missing piece to your collection that gives you something possibly no one else has! The only thing better then that is that moment you do a needle drop and hear what you searched for knowing that in many instances it’s never going to be made available digitally to anyone unless the owners are uncovered and agree to release them again. It’s like being an American Picker but the prize is not items of the past but priceless and timeless nuggets of sound that you alone now have!

Still another reason to hold on to your Vinyl and CDs is the fact there’s a cultural shift going on in our society which one can sense and visibly see happening. Just look at programs just as Suits, Empire and now the new HBO Series Vinyl and you’ll see the actual Vinyl albums in the scenes, there neatly stored with a turntable situated by them, ready to be played.

The new generation has missed out on an experience that we all had, shared and enjoyed. One that they have somehow just found out they were missing out on and would like to try for themselves! While it’s true the majority of those who are exposed to Vinyl want it and love it there are other reasons for its popularity.

The sound is warm, fatter, and rich but removing the recording from the inner sleeve and jacket make the lead up to the actual playing even more exciting rekindling and reminding us of the past while showing a new generation a real treat. Let’s not forget that this generation has not been exposed to the actual wondrous graphics of such size and visual distinctiveness. They are literally works of art not just recordings and the kids LOVE them to put in their rooms and on their walls!

Yet another very important point to consider is the bands and artists today are hurting and make a fraction of a penny for each stream with millions of streams meaning no more then a few thousand dollars at the best. It’s therefore no surprise that bands, old and new have now sought to press albums and push the demand for Vinyl through the roof, with many of them only releasing their music in this manner.

New pressing plants, more facilities and a backlog in orders have caused the wheels of production to come to a slower pace then anyone would imagined as Vinyl sales have increased 38% over the previous year. Also figure into the equation the fact that bands make money, much more money on each physical sale of an album or CD then they do with a stream and that in this day and age of dwindling revenue sources is a blessing that more and more artists and musicians are turning to and considering with greater frequency.

Now you, as dedicated music fans, demand the best music experience and expect to hear it through the best system to enhance that experience and bring the emotion into your home. You also want to know that your music is realty yours and with streaming you never really own the music but just have access to it “only as long as you subscribe to that service”. So should you drop your membership, your music all goes back to them and you are left with nothing, nothing at all! Kind of changes your feelings when you look at it that way does it not?

Music’s a part of our lives and regardless of the methods of delivery, there is nothing like ownership. Although, many today believe that a millennial has no desire or need to own anything frankly, I do not agree. They have not been given the opportunity to own something as the digital age has circumvented that experience and directed them to a place where they’re told they don’t need it!

You as connoisseurs of the best, have a sense of pride of ownership that accompanies the purchasing of a high-end system, an album or piece of music. There is a booklet that connects you with the artist while turning each page is akin to reading of a great book that gives you, the owner, the tactile feel one can only get by holding something in your hands. There is also the collectability factor that cannot be denied and has been proven does exist. Demand for Vinyl has grown and that means that there is money to be made with the right records.

What are the best and most valuable collectibles today? They are those things that were manufactured in the millions and everyone threw out. They are those things your mom somehow discarded when she determined you no longer needed that Ted Williams rookie card or that Superman #1 comic which you kept so pristine in the plastic wrap. We all had one of those “Oh No!” moments!

Just as they were the collectibles that everyone wishes they had the focus and attention it is now clearly on Vinyl now in the spotlight and primed to soar all over again. The quest for each precious original recording in a perfect album jacket and possessing an unscratched and perfect surface is the Holy Grail. There is pride and much fun associated with the quest for the music and it’s again reaching a feverish pitch with even turntable manufacturers now ramping up to produce them in quantity all over again to keep up with the demand.

Let’s face it, music is a very personal and individual experience so why not treat yourself to something that impresses others while providing you with the best means to entertain and enjoy all that you loved as you grew up?

While the times they are a changing the fact remains that the future sometimes does not require we delete all the ways of the past but more succinctly those that no longer are viable.

Sometimes the trick is not keeping up with technology but just bringing ease into our lives. Your responsibility is keeping in touch with your roots and remembering who you are and who you want to be. So stream if you want, but keep your Vinyl and in listen to it right now to remind you how much you love it!

As always, make sure you love the music and respect artists who create it!

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  • Anthony Kimball

    Thanks for the great, thought provoking article! I am not, nor do I ever see myself becoming a fan of streaming. I’ve used Pandora a few times, and it was good for suggesting some new artists I haven’t heard before, but I just didn’t find it engaging. So I agree with most of your points.

    but…

    I would like to love vinyl…I really would. I definitely appreciate the sound, but unlike many, I don’t perceive the “night & day” difference that people talk about. A well recorded piece of music, played through a decent system (I.E. a good DAC & amp) sounds (accounting dollar for dollar spent on either medium) close enough to my ears.

    Which brings me to why I’d like to love vinyl (or why I don’t)…space. The WAF (wife acceptance factor) is pretty low. I really couldn’t justify the extra equipment & storage space needed. CDs take up much less space, but even those my wife would like to see less of. (that’s not going to happen any time soon, though.)That’s why downloads have become a more common purchase for me.

    I do miss the opening of the album, looking at the artwork (and some of the old albums really had good artwork!) and reading the liner notes (much easier on my aging eyes than little cd booklets). However, once the music is on, and my eyes are closed because I’m lost in the music, it really doesn’t matter where the music is coming from.

    Your point about the rare gems is well taken (I still search through used CDs for sale every chance I get) and that it’s sad that some of that music is forever lost but for the few that still have the cd/vinyl. There’s no getting around that.

    In a perfect world, artists would be compensated fairly for their work, and the sound quality would be the same regardless of the medium. But unfortunately we have to live in the real world.

  • Buddha

    It has been about 30 years since I moved from vinyl to cassettes. Portability was the primary driver. Also, I received free cassettes when I worked at Ampex. From there to mp3s and so forth. Only recently have I started listening to my old vinyl. Wow! I forgot how good it is compared to much of the audio available today.

    Today, most people use streaming services. That is certainly true of my 20something kids and their friends. I also use these services on occasion but I always felt that something was missing. As Anthony and others have mentioned we are missing the anticipation of a new album being released along with its opening. We also no longer own the music and so isn’t part of us. I remember listening to a new album with my buddies for hours. We dissected each track. There is something to be said for holding the physical album. Music downloads and streaming services have made music transient and part of our instant gratification society. The emotion is gone and that is sad.

  • Msd310

    “Also figure into the equation the fact that bands make money, much more money on each physical sale of an album or CD then they do with a stream” – Do they make more with an MP3/AAC album purchase?

    For me, the ubiquity of CD burners in the late 90s kind of killed any mystique the CD format had as it was easy to write my own in a few seconds at home (even though burning a CD is a much different process than when they’re pressed at the factory).
    Personally I would like to be able to purchase FLACs of 16/44.1 audio from places like Amazon and Google, rather than compressed, even though they’re high bitrate. When I buy something on Bandcamp I can choose from a variety of formats, including FLAC and ALAC.
    Don’t want hi res unless it can be proven the higher inaudible frequencies affect the brain and listening experience unconsciously. If it does, then the music industry should get a move on with releasing higher quality physical format, like blu-ray audio discs or SD cards, and making that the standard, instead of sticking to ones from the 1930s or 1982 (CDs).