Digital music

You may well have read the article Apple Stole My Music. No, Seriously, in which the author writes:

“When I signed up for Apple Music, iTunes evaluated my massive collection of Mp3s and WAV files, scanned Apple’s database for what it considered matches, then removed the original files from my internal hard drive. REMOVED them. Deleted. If Apple Music saw a file it didn’t recognize—which came up often, since I’m a freelance composer and have many music files that I created myself—it would then download it to Apple’s database, delete it from my hard drive, and serve it back to me when I wanted to listen, just like it would with my other music files it had deleted.”
My friend Steve Bissette wrote in response, quoting him with permission:

“I don’t use any of this crap for ‘my’ music, books, movies, anything. ‘My’ music—meaning, what I listen to—is on vinyl and CDs; ‘my’ books—meaning, what I read and my research materials—are in reach, on shelves, in my library; ‘my’ movies—meaning, what I watch—is on VHS, laser, DVD. It’s a home library, and I’ve lovingly curated it over decades.
I know it’ll all go away, be dispersed, or consumed: home fire, flood, or if I’m lucky I’ll lose it all when I can no longer stay in ‘our’ home. It’s the way of the world, of things. That’s OK with me.
“But I always considered this virtual/digital device world illusory, ephemeral, instant-access=instant-removal. Just how I’m hard-wired.
“I read these kinds of news and opinion pieces as artifacts of those who buy into the illusion anything on a device is ‘theirs’ or ‘my’ anything. It all goes away, can be made to go away, in a heartbeat, while you’re sleeping, when you’re awake.”

I suppose Steve’s reaction may sound like that of an old fogey – he is two years younger than I – and maybe it is. And I totally relate to it.

I have music in the “cloud”, probably more than I know, from some Amazon purchases. Still, there’s is something more gratifying to me about the physical object. And hey, one builds muscle schlepping those CDs to work.

Also, there’s a bit of Zen meditation when I alphabetize the discs and put them away, often stopping to check something on the liner notes.

An online friend of mine was complaining that he couldn’t play any Prince music just after the musician died, because it was blocked by the Purple One’s lawyers. I shrugged, as I pulled out my 2-CD greatest hits.

Now, I see the practical side of digital music. If you’re moving to New Zealand, or something, the shipping of an extensive LP or CD collection could be prohibitive.

I have read books on Kindle. Actually, it makes sense when traveling, especially since the airlines have imposed increasingly draconian limits on the weight and size of one’s luggage. And, of course, I use electronic sources for my research.

Still, nothing compares with pulling a book off the shelf to browse, finding a factoid faster, and more reliably, than online. A shelf full of books is visually appealing, which stimulates the pleasure centers in my brain.

And I’ve been really irritated by some of those book publisher licenses to libraries that suggest that the repository can lend the item only two dozen times or so before it goes away. Fie! One could theoretically lend a book hundreds of times, and then sell it or at least give it away.

I have lost items – some were misplaced, stolen, destroyed in a basement flood. On an episode of JEOPARDY! several years ago, one contestant gleefully explained how freeing it was when he lost everything in a fire. Host Alex Trebek was quite confounded by this. But I guess I’m hard-wired like Steve is.

There is a response article to the piece I started with, No, Apple Music is not deleting tracks off your hard drive — unless you tell it to. BOTH stories tout the value of backup. I’ve lost digital music too, and this makes it even more ephemeral. And now I read that music downloads may only have about four years left.

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