Personally, I’ve always been the kind of girl who needs to physically own an album. Owning a copy of an album is part of getting to know a band. There is nothing more exciting than coming home to a brand new CD or beautiful vinyl and playing it for the first time. It all feels far too removed to download it on your laptop and listen to it through tiny laptop speakers whilst doing your laundry.
Although CDs are expensive to buy, there are many shops selling on second hand copies of CDs, especially on Bold Street in Liverpool. Big supermarkets also offer slightly cheaper copies of CDs so you don’t always have to spend a fortune to get a decent sounding and wonderfully looking copy of an album. It goes without saying that album artwork cannot be appreciated when looked at as a thumbnail on your iTunes library.
I can’t stand the idea of only ever having anything digitally but lately the tides are changing. I was tempted by Spotify, because for a mere £5 a month you can have access to just about any music you want. All you have to do is type in a band name and every release they have ever had will pop up on your laptop screen for you to enjoy with unlimited access – easy peasy.
However, not all is fine and dandy in the world of unlimited streaming. The Swedish streaming service has in the past been criticised for not financially crediting artists fairly; they pay artists pennies a month for tens of thousands of listens.
On the other hand, iTunes is slightly more generous. Despite the fact that they charge 99p for a single, artists earn more from iTunes sales then they do from Spotify listens. Alas, 99p for something you can’t even touch is painful. As handy as having a laptop full of wonderful music is, technology is far from perfect. There will come a time when your laptop dies and you lose everything. This has a resounding personal note for me as I invested many an hour copying my CD’s to my laptop over the years for my laptop to crash, meaning I lost every last song.
On the other hand, if it’s late on a Sunday evening and you have an uncontrollable need to listen to a song but you don’t own the album what do you do? All the local shops are closed and your options are limited – but at the click of a button and a painless credit card transaction you have the album there for your unlimited listening.
So for a consumer, the battle between iTunes and Spotify is upon us. Do you stream all your music or buy your music? There is another option…
As long as you’re set with a fully functioning internet connection, YouTube offers free online streaming. However, it comes with the added treat of inescapable, dull adverts. There is nothing more poignant than showing your housemate your all-time favourite song on YouTube, it ends and you both sit there in awe at what you just listened to when suddenly a betting advert begins to play. You can’t turn it off for 30 seconds and the moment is ruined.
So for those of you aren’t keen on forking out any money at all, YouTube seems a enticing option, as does your housemates’ extensive music collections. It’s likely that between all your friends can scrape together all the songs you’ve ever wanted and much much more.
In the past, music collections were a precious ensemble of carefully selected bands, all likely to be connected to certain memories or occasions. Nowadays it is about sheer volume. There is a huge amount of music out there and it is unrealistic to listen to everything, let alone to buy everything.
With technological advances, sadly there is no reason to buy physical copies of music – especially when it costs £10 for that non-physical copy of an album. The general consensus seems to be that if you like a band enough, it is worth spending your money on them. Your favourite band deserves a few of your pounds in their pocket. Making that firm decision to set time aside to go and hunt down the album makes the thrill of getting it home and listening to it all the more exciting. If you have to, sacrifice that Tesco sandwich for lunch one Thursday and order will be restored.