Sunday, 14 March 2010

Music collection

I have a big collection of music CDs. As a friend pointed out, many of them I will never listen to again in my life, so why keep them? The trouble is, I don't know which ones I'm going to want to listen to again, so I have to keep them all.

This of course takes up space. I could record my CDs into MP3 format which is at least compact, but selling the CD or even giving it away while I have a digital copy, robs musicians of their reward and would be illegal anyway. So I'm resigned to having to find space for an ever-increasing collection of CDs.

I'm becoming outmoded of course. The modern way to buy music is to download it. I can even use music services to feed me music all day every day should I so choose. And if I can stream what I want when I want it, why do I need a collection of music all of my own anyway? Sound quality is the reason right now, but I don't see that remaining long as a justification, the way bandwidth is growing. The other reason is the lack of a broad catalogue of streamed music that isn't pop, but again I think that problem will also go away in time. One day, maybe, my hifi will be an amplifier, speakers and a digital connection, and I will finally be able ditch the CDs.

Today there was a flea market in Laval. Like a UK car boot sale, but in a big hangar. Mostly it was dealers; if you want non-pros, you go to the vide greniers that take place mostly at the end of the school Summer holidays. I bought a few CDs. For 2 euros for a CD that plays, it's hard to go wrong. If I only ever play it once, it's still good value. And I think that the coming prevalence of digital presentation might do away with the simple pleasure of finding a musical bargain. So I enjoy it while I can.


Mark said...

I'm not so sure about this angst over downloading and depriving artists of their livelihood. There is something in it, but there is also something that tells me the big music companies rip us off.

My kids don't see the point of CDs but I still prefer to buy them rather than download.

Returning to first point, I remember a guy from some rock band complaining about downloads and saying he can't call up a plumber or an electrician and demand free work. That is true, but it is not a fair comparison. I don't pay the plumber a royalty every time someone turns on my taps! Nobody pays to look at the sculptures in Oxford where I was today.

Would it be reasonable for the music industry to pay a fixed fee I wonder? i don't have the answer and I know when to say 'I am not an expert in this area' but I am suspicious of those who want to retain all royalties and make us feel guilty for downloads. I lend my books all the time and nobody seems to think that is wrong.

What am I missing?

Cogitator said...

I think that big music companies rip off as many people as they can. I think I remember reading of a member of Floyd saying they don't get paid anything any more if anyone buys Dark Side because the royalty contract only paid out for 25 years. I am no fan of big music companies; I consider some of what they do to be tantamount to legalised theft.

On the other had, the immense popularity of CDs has led to a huge repertoire of music becoming available, as music companies can take bigger risks with less-popular music.

If you accept that musicians have to get paid for the music they create, the question then is how?

With books as in CDs the author gets a royalty when you buy the book. You can lend the book like you can lend a CD: while you do not have the book, or don't have the CD, you can't be reading or playing it. But if you copy the book before lending it or selling it, or you copy the CD before lending it or selling it, you are depriving the author of a royalty by copying and distributing his copyright work. There is no difference in principle between lending or selling the copy you have made and lending or selling the original.

I consider the (unauthorised) downloading of copyright material to be theft.

Your point about no-one paying royalties to look at statues is, I think, a good one, and identifies they grey area wherein the line must be drawn. You want to look at a statue? Fine. You want to make and sell plaster copies of it? Not fine.

At the moment one has to pay an extra royalty to play recorded music in a public place. How different is this from looking at a statue in a public place? Not very, in my view.

Mimi Lenox said...

"Your point about no-one paying royalties to look at statues is, I think, a good one, and identifies they grey area wherein the line must be drawn. You want to look at a statue? Fine. You want to make and sell plaster copies of it? Not fine."

And therein lies the difference.

Cogitator: What is up with your email? Something is very wrong.

Jonathan said...

Hmm. This is a debate that will run and run. Personally I don't mind mp3s if I'm washing up or working but I can't really listen to them, especially at low bandwidth. Even CDs are a mixed blessing. I like them because they did away with surface crackle (try listening to one of Eno's ambient albums on vinyl) but they do lack both warmth and sparkle. DVD audio is probably the future and there's no reason why that can't be streamed. But do I really want to buy all that music yet again?

I don't want to get into the ownership/remuneration debate right now. Suffice to say that even the music we now describe as 'traditonal' was originally composed by someone. King Oliver (Louis Armstrongs one-time employer and mentor) refused to record because he didn't want people to steal his ideas. Buddy Bolden, another jazz trumpeter, used to play with a handkerchief over his fingers, while klezmer clarinetist Naftule Brandwein turned his back on his audience, to stop people copying them. There, I've started anyway!

It could be argued that Dark Side of the Moon should be available to anyone who wants it for just the cost of the medium, be it vinyl, CD, or whatever as so much money had been made from it already. But then it's probably all the band have for a pension.

Pearl said...

LOVE flea markets.

As for the music, I have over 800 albums. They take up a whole room, but will I get rid of them? Are you kidding? With the artwork, the posters, the liner notes?

:-) It's history, baby!


Ribbon said...

I still miss vinyl records ;) which I sold a long time ago and sometimes regret doing so.

Enjoy your CD's and give them away when the pleasure strikes.

best wishes

Cogitator said...

I sold my vinyl a while back. This is good and bad. I don't like the sound of CDs compared to vinyl, unless the player is extraordinarily good. On the other hand, the scratches, crackles and wear on records drove me crazy, as did having to return about half the records I bought to the shop on account of problems. So CDs are good for my emotional health, even if bad for my wallet.

The problems with digital will go away. A CD streaming 16 bit data at 44.1Khz was thought incorrectly to more accurate than the human ear can perceive. But 96KHz 24 bit is about the same accuracy as a 1/4 inch tape at 15 inches per second, and is fine.

I did keep one record though, Rick Wakeman's Journey to the Centre of the Earth. It's so redolent of its period, and so awful, I just had to keep it as a souvenir.

Cogitator said...

Jonathan: I agree with your comments on MP3. In fact I tend to use FLAC (that is lossless) rather than MP3, but I use the term generically since everyone understands what I mean.

You won't have to buy all your music again in a new digital format: you'll just subscribe to an enormous online streaming music server for a fixed monthly fee, and have access to everything you need when you want it.

Cogitator said...

Ribbon, your approach is of course the best. Owning and disposing can both be a source of pleasure.

Jonathan said...

I have to agree with Pearl on the artwork that goes with hard copies. This is why, apart from a mad clearout in the early 80s, I won't willingly part with my vinyl in spite of the storage issues and sheer weight. The sounds and pictures of my old favourites, many of which (like your Rick Wakeman album, Mr C) are too awful to actually listen to again, are fused together in my mind.

Cogitator said...

I agree with you. It's a shame that the reduced size of the CD has severely limited the value of the artwork that goes with it. With records, the music was part of a package that sometimes, often, included stunning visuals. I remember my Yes albums with their Roger Dean artwork with affection. And Yes are one of the few bands from my youth that I still listen to regularly, and rate highly.

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