• Follow us

Social Media

Just putting it out there: I still buy MP3s

In this column, “Just putting this out there…,” we write about the odd ways we engage with tech and the unpopular opinions we form about it. You can read the rest of the articles in this series here.

One of my biggest sources of inner turmoil is how I consume music: I still buy MP3s. This is often met with shock, horror, or hushed murmurings of “good for you” like I’ve just donated blood — but I’m not really sure why.

Very few industries have been as disrupted by the internet as the music industry. From its containment to its delivery and consumption, it’s faced a near-total revolution every few years over the past decades.

I remember when I bought my first cassette tape — it was in 1999, I was five years old, and it was …Baby One More Time by Britney Spears.

I vividly remember saving up my quarter-a-week pocket money, clutching it in my chubby little fists, and going to Newbury Comics to buy it, escorted by my mum. A few years later, my dad helped me buy my first three CDs from Amazon: The Diary of Alicia Keys, Usher’s Confessions, and Maroon 5’s Songs About Jane.

I can measure my conscious life by the music I listened to, as well as the way I listened to it. First pop cassettes, then R&B and pop-punk (Avril Lavigne, duh) CDs in my little red Sony Walkman. When I got my first laptop, I spent hours burning my alt and rock CDs into MP3s and turning them into mixtapes for my friends. I then turned these mixtapes into iTunes playlists when I got my first iPhone. When I went to uni, I co-hosted a hip-hop/jazz radio show using these playlists — drunk at 3-4 am on Saturday mornings, the freshman time slot.

I was, and have always been, obsessed with buying music. Not just obtaining it, but the actual act of purchasing it. Similar to worship, I took comfort and pleasure in making a contribution to the gods who created the art I devoured. Thank you, Aaron Carter, here’s $9.99. I morphed this ritual into a moral code — when my friends started using services like Limewire and Napster or scoured the blogs for pirated zip files, I turned up my nose: “I don’t do that.”

Perhaps my dad’s meticulously organized music collection and latent Catholicism (think: fear and guilt) rubbed off on me, but I still buy my music in the form of MP3s, and even sometimes CDs.

But now that streaming has completely disrupted the industry, the cracks in my moral pillars, which I’ve long ignored, have worsened, and are starting to show. What does “buying music” even mean today? It turns out, not much — it never really has.

Buying MP3s is pretty stupid — does that make me stupid?

I know my views on music ownership are completely archaic. A dedication to buying MP3s is futile, because you don’t really own the music by buying an MP3.

When you purchase music from iTunes or Amazon, you’re merely buying access to it. And that access can be taken away at any point.

Last year, Anders G da Silva tweeted that movies he had purchased from his iTunes library had disappeared, and it went viral:

Me: Hey Apple, three movies I bought disappeared from my iTunes library.Apple: Oh yes, those are not available anymore. Thank you for buying them. Here are two movie rentals on us!Me: Wait… WHAT?? @tim_cook when did this become acceptable? pic.twitter.com/dHJ0wMSQH9

— Anders G da Silva (@drandersgs) September 10, 2018

This isn’t the first incident of its kind, and iTunes isn’t the only platform to do it; Amazon pulled all George Orwell books from customers’ Kindles in 2009. 1984 irony aside, this is the risk with purchasing non-physical copies of media — they can legally be taken away at any time, because they’re not yours. Just months ago, Microsoft’s eBooks were all rendered useless due to retracted DRM.

Despite appearances, MP3 “stores” like iTunes aren’t even really stores at all. As explained to Anders G da Silva in a customer support letter, iTunes is a “store front,” a platform or mediary through which things are sold:

Part 2:

Me: I am not really interested in the rentals. I want my movies back or my money back.

Apple: I totally get how you feel…

Me: Condescending, but go one…

Apple: You see, we are just a store front.

Me: Store front?

1/7 pic.twitter.com/U1D3Wj0zmZ

— Anders G da Silva (@drandersgs) September 11, 2018

Apple doesn’t even own the thing I’m so dedicatedly “buying” in the first place! Streaming services, such as Apple Music, Spotify, TIDAL, and more, are at least transparent in the fact that I am only being given the key, not the house. 

None of the above information is new, but something I need to remind myself — iTunes is no better than Spotify, they’re all just intermediaries loaning out to you for a price.

…but yet, I buy them anyway

I’m going to publicly psychoanalyze myself for a minute: I think the root of my attachment to purchasing MP3s and CDs is that I want to hold onto the personal relationship with music I had as a kid, and that’s becoming increasingly difficult.

Having a library full of MP3s keeps my musical horizons relatively small and manageable, a feeling that gets lost with Spotify’s nearly endless library. I can sort them in a similarly static way that I did with my mixtapes, and I won’t be constantly enticed to discover more unless I choose to. In my mind, I’m choosing a qualitative relationship with music over a quantitative one.

A Premium Spotify subscription (which I don’t have) gets you access to algorithm-driven playlists, endless ability to discover new music, and smooth, uninterrupted user-friendliness, but these machine-delivered suggestions just don’t feel as nice as finding a human-curated mixtape CD in my mailbox, with lyrics and notes of love scribbled on the jewel case. Disorganized MP3 libraries don’t feel quite the same as that either, but they’re a lot closer.

That being said, while artists don’t make shit from streaming services, they’re more easily discovered on these platforms and social media. Artists are making more money on tour and via brand partnerships, something they can get through the seamless webbed relationship between streaming platforms and social media, than ever before. On the other hand, algorithms amplify music that’s already picking up steam, so it’s easy for new music and smaller artists to get lost in the ever-growing crowd.

But on the other OTHER hand, streaming platforms stopped the rise in music piracy à la sites like Napster, because of its higher quality and the promises of AI-driven suggestions, so they kind of saved the industry. But on the other OTHER OTHER hand, it’s now being reported that thanks to too many streaming service options, piracy is getting hot again. FUCK, I can’t win.

It’s impossible to tell whether streaming is good or bad for music, but it’s a reality regardless. And if we want to get really existential and Marxist, there’s no use in building a moral high-horse one MP3 at a time, because choosing a means of “owning” music is just picking your capitalist poison.

Am I being overly idealistic, sentimental, and stupid? Most definitely. And I think about it constantly, with the Spotify devil on one shoulder, and the iTunes devil on the other.

Rationally, I should shake my Catholic guilt and pony up for a premium streaming subscription — but I’m not ready yet.

This column is a part of our daily Big Spam newsletter — subscribe here to get one delivered to you every Sunday!

Read next: Get Google Analytics-savvy with this $14 course

Read More



Leave A Comment

More News

TechCrunch » Social

Hatebase catalogues the world’s hate speech in real 2019-09-10 17:49:26Policing hate speech is something nearly every online communication platform struggles with. Because to police it, you must detect it; and to detect i

Nextdoor adds new funding, closes growth round at 2019-09-10 11:59:39Social networking platform for neighbors Nextdoor today announced it has secured additional funding to close out its $170 million growth round. The ne

Twenty and Mappen merge to help users hang 2019-09-10 10:27:25Today, social networks Twenty and Mappen are joining together in a merger under the Twenty brand. From the beginning, Twenty’s goal has been to

Facebook tightens policies around self-harm and suicide 2019-09-10 09:47:03Timed with World Suicide Prevention Day, Facebook is tightening its policies around some difficult topics, including self-harm, suicide and eating dis

Spotify users can now share music and podcasts 2019-09-09 09:46:22Spotify users can now share their favorite music and podcasts with friends on Snapchat, the company announced this morning, with added support for sha

Freeda raises another $16 million for its media 2019-09-09 03:11:32Italian startup Freeda Media has raised a $16 million Series B round. Existing investor Alven is leading the round, with Endeavor Catalyst, UniCredit

Looking to become the video-based social network of 2019-09-06 12:49:23When Medal.tv first launched on the scene, the company was an upstart trying to be the social network for the gaming generation. Since its debut in Fe

NY attorney general will lead antitrust investigation into 2019-09-06 10:20:50New York Attorney General Letitia James announced this morning that she’s leading an investigation into Facebook over antitrust issues — i

Daily Crunch: Facebook Dating comes to the US 2019-09-05 14:32:14The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox ever

Facebook’s lead EU regulator is asking questions about 2019-09-05 13:15:35Facebook’s lead data protection regulator in Europe has confirmed it’s put questions to the company about a major security breach that we

Facebook is making its own deepfakes and offering 2019-09-05 13:15:25Image and video manipulation powered by deep learning, or so-called “deepfakes,” represent a strange and horrifying facet of a promising n

YouTube launches a dedicated Fashion vertical 2019-09-05 11:18:19YouTube today is launching a new vertical called YouTube Fashion that aims to capitalize on the popular style and beauty content that attracts million

Mashable

iPhone 11 review: More 'pro' than it looks New! 2019-09-17 18:26:18Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps s

Facebook bans more than 200 white supremacist groups, New! 2019-09-17 18:16:01Facebook has expanded its definition of terror organizations as it's being pressured to respond to the growing threat of white supremacist “lon

Southwest is selling a lunchbox of its discontinued New! 2019-09-17 17:07:36Southwest Airlines joined most of its competitors when it stopped handing out peanuts on its flights in 2018, citing allergy concerns. But people real

Facebook reportedly working on fashionable smart glasses to New! 2019-09-17 17:02:36A super secret Facebook project is reportedly in the works. CNBC reported Tuesday that Facebook has been working on smart glasses, meant to eventually

Get the Dell Vostro 14 3000 laptop for New! 2019-09-17 17:00:03TL;DR: The no-frills Dell Vostro 14 3000 laptop (1TB) is already an affordable choice, but you can get it for $299 with code BIZLT299 — a 6

Sega Genesis Mini promo bundle — get your New! 2019-09-17 16:55:05TL;DR: The Sega Genesis Mini launches on Sept. 19, but you can get a special bundle (which comes with your choice of controller) at Walmart for only $

15 tweets for people who really love the New! 2019-09-17 16:39:36Anyone who watches Succession knows that not only is the HBO drama a genuinely good show, but it also has the single best theme song on television rig

Uber's self-driving cars ride into Texas New! 2019-09-17 16:26:19Uber's autonomous cars are coming to Texas.  On Tuesday, Uber's Advantaged Technologies Group announced it would test its vehicles in Dallas. D

Elon Musk claims ‘pedo guy’ is a common New! 2019-09-17 16:03:01The insult, which Musk called a British cave diver on Twitter, means "creepy old man," according to the Tesla CEO. However, Musk and his legal team

New Mercedes concept car blends past designs with New! 2019-09-17 16:02:23Modeled after a 1902 luxury car of a similar name, the Vision Mercedes Simplex adds a few millennials touches to the nearly 102-year-old vehicle. Read

Seinfeld is coming to Netflix in 2021 New! 2019-09-17 16:01:39The 1990s show is making its first appearance on the streaming giant, soon after Netflix's planned removals of The Office and Friends. Read more...Mo

These memes about AirPods will make you say New! 2019-09-17 16:00:22Like many tech products before it, AirPods have found themselves to be the center of many hilarious memes. In fact, here are a few that are pretty har

The Next Web

Satoshi Nakaboto: ‘VanEck and SolidX withdraw ETF proposal New! 2019-09-18 04:44:54Our robot colleague Satoshi Nakaboto writes about Bitcoin every fucking day. Welcome to another edition of Bitcoin Today, where I, Satoshi Nakaboto, t

ING: People who know the least about cryptocurrencies New! 2019-09-18 04:37:35Were you thinking that cryptocurrency mass adoption was just around the corner? Well, perhaps think again. A recent study from Dutch bank ING has foun

Amazon’s Alexa assistant now speaks Hindi New! 2019-09-18 03:49:56Amazon officially today announced suppor for Hindi in its Alexa virtual assistant, allowing users to issue voice commands in the fourth most

The iPhone 11 has the same amount of New! 2019-09-18 03:19:47Apple revealed its new series of iPhones last week. While the company released almost all specifications of these devices such as processor, camera se

Over 13.7M US medical test records found unsecured New! 2019-09-18 03:04:21Medical records belonging to millions of patients across the world, including echocardiograms and X-rays, are stored on insecure servers that did not

IT firm manager arrested in massive Ecuador data New! 2019-09-18 01:42:00Ecuador offiicals have arrested the general manager of IT consulting firm Novaestrat after a massive data breach exposed the personal information of m

US DoJ wants to seize profits from Ed New! 2019-09-18 01:38:21The US justice department has sued whistleblower Edward Snowden, following the release of his new book, Permanent Record. The department alleges this

Obsessed with death? You might have ‘existential isolation,’ New! 2019-09-17 19:24:27How often do you think about death? For many, the answer is a terrifying “almost always.” But, at some point or another, we’re all c

Review: The $990 Unagi e-scooter is sleek, powerful, New! 2019-09-17 16:26:16E-scooters have a bit of a bad rep. In some cities, you’re likely to hear grumbling about rental scooters strewn about streets like trash or dis

How to build a production and recording studio New! 2019-09-17 15:38:41Welcome to TNW Basics, a collection of tips, guides, and advice on how to easily get the most out of your gadgets, apps, and other stuff. Anyone

The Offspring becomes latest band to play a 2019-09-17 13:53:35Punk band The Offspring are going to be performing a gig in … a mobile game? Yep, they join the ranks of the growing number of performers choos

Facebook identifies secret campaign to influence voters in 2019-09-17 12:14:48Earlier today, Facebook announced it had terminated multiple accounts, pages, and groups belonging to two campaigns targeting voters in Iraq and Ukrai

E-Commerce Times

New Insightly Marketing Platform Modernizes Legacy CRM 2019-09-10 14:19:25Insightly has announced the availability of Insightly Marketing, which integrates marketing, sales and project management into a single platform to su

Shifting Cable-TV Landscape Demands New Strategies for Survival 2019-09-10 13:26:10X1 is a Comcast-branded pay-TV service that gives users more control over their television experience. The service recently gained new features that c

Rethinking the User Interface for Consumer Voice Tech 2019-09-09 08:00:00Voice can provide a simple, compelling user experience, but the path to adding voice controls to any product, service or application is complex. As do

Big Data's Seismic Effect on the Broadcasting Industry 2019-09-05 12:13:49Digital transformation has left hardly any industry unshaken. In broadcasting, it's safe to say that it has transformed completely the way we create,

Samsung May Have New Foldable Phone in Wings 2019-09-04 13:33:01Samsung's first-generation foldable phone isn't expected until later this month, but reports of a second-generation device to be released in early 2

How to Choose Shipping Software to Scale Your 2019-09-03 12:09:28Implementing shipping software can be a big step in scaling your e-commerce business -- providing a way to create shipping labels quickly, to gain acc

The High Stakes of Oracle's Appeal 2019-08-31 08:00:00Now Oracle is appealing the Pentagon's award to Amazon of its $10 billion JEDI contract to provide cloud computing solutions. "The Court of Federal

Can Cable TV Survive the 5G Wireless Threat? 2019-08-30 13:07:22Traditional cable TV providers will face a big competitive threat in the next decade from the Internet, IPTV and 5G wireless. Cable TV typically lands

Apple Says Sorry for Listening In on Siri 2019-08-29 12:16:13Apple has suspended audits of consumer interactions with Siri, and undertaken a review of practices and policies related to the voice assistant. Befor

Storm Erupts Over Google's Advice Against Blocking Cookies 2019-08-28 13:57:04Google's recent announcement of Privacy Sandbox -- an initiative to develop a set of open standards geared toward fundamental enhancements of privacy

Putting CX at the Center of Testing Strategies 2019-08-27 15:40:09From e-commerce to banking applications to healthcare systems -- and everything in between -- if it's digital, users expect it to work at every inter

Powerful Enterprise-Class Chromebooks May Make Windows Exit Possible 2019-08-27 06:12:37A new collaboration between Dell Technologies and Google has produced the world's first enterprise-class Chromebook. The companies have announced the

Social News Daily

Mig Vapor Scholarship 2019: Make Your Dream Come 2019-09-09 00:02:57Have you just finished your school and dreaming of pursuing further education? Or maybe you are an adult person dreaming about moving higher in educat

73-Year-Old Woman From India Gives Birth To Twin 2019-09-06 19:05:41Mangayamma Yaramati, 73, stated she and her spouse (who is 82 years old), had been unsuccessful conceiving children — and now have twin girls. &

4 Celebrities Who Were “Less Than Forthcoming” About 2019-09-05 21:46:24Beauty enhancements like plastic surgery is – and will always be – an inconvenient and sensitive topic for the stars of Hollywood. Even le

A Passenger Flies Aircraft In Absence Of Its 2019-09-05 20:09:07Ever heard of a tale where a boarding passenger was put in charge at the last second to fly the plane? Well, that’s precisely what happened to D

Seven Students Charged After Putting Sperm In Teacher’s 2019-09-04 18:17:247 teenagers have been charged for placing bodily fluids inside their instructors’ food, having intermingled some crepes with sperm. Prosecutors

Human Feces Might Cure Depression: Says Scientists 2019-09-04 10:28:54Human feces may be used to cure depression, accordant to scientists, who unintentionally discovered the kinship between depression and intestinal flor

Robot Pole Dancers Set To Debut At Nightclub 2019-09-02 13:25:53Two robot pole dancers, lidded with a CCTV camera for a head and wearing high heels, will debut at the SC-Club to commemorate its fifth anniversary. A

Unfazed Man Smokes At Bar As Armed Robbery 2019-08-30 19:11:09One chap in the US pretended as if he’d stared down the barrel of countless assault rifles during an armed robbery on Thursday (29 August). CCTV

12-Year-Old Boy Breaks Both Legs Falling From Fair 2019-08-30 07:37:4912-year-old Theo Shaw was very fortunate to escape with his life after he fell out of a ride in a park at a travelling funfair. The pre-teen was rushe

Babies Exhibit ‘Werewolf Syndrome’ After Receiving Anti-Baldness Drug 2019-08-29 16:11:3717 children developed a type of “werewolf syndrome” after they were administered medicine intended to remedy heartburn that was actually u

Newlyweds Die In Collision Only Minutes After Wedding 2019-08-27 17:48:58A young couple perished only minutes after their wedding when a pickup truck and their car clashed as they were exiting the Justice of the Peace court

A Convention For Derrieres Was A Huge Hit 2019-08-26 17:02:01Butt-Con 2019 – a convention that is centered around buttocks’ – was organized by the bidet company Tushy and went down in New York


Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not responsible of these news or any information published on this website.