Online streaming services have seen rapid expansion in the size of their libraries, so is there no longer a need to store media on our own hard drives or CD’s? Do we have enough trust in the internet and the services provided to discard our own collections and believe that the music will be available online forever?
Image: Robert Nyman
It was a rapid transformation between the general public using CD’s one day, and them being rendered almost obsolete the next. The evolution to digital music was the perfect example of changing attitude towards the format that we store our media. Now however, we have a different proposition to consider.
To store our music in any format at all.
I am currently using streaming site Deezer, the underdog in the music service race for supremacy. I use it over others for the simple reason that no software download is needed. Although most computers that I log onto have Spotify, I like the freedom of knowing that I can access my playlist anywhere.
Level of access is the one thing that sets these services apart. Unlike physical formats, there is no sense of ownership with music streaming sites, mostly because there is no ownership at all.
Like cars, the more fancy bits that you add, the more likely they are to break. Streaming services rely on an internet connection to provide you with your music. Thanks to an ageing network in this country, reliable internet connection is a rarity rather than a human right as it is in Estonia, France, Finland, Greece and Spain.
Streaming sites do let you ‘download’ your music. But this for me is more useful as a marketing gimmick to lull you into a false sense of security.
The ‘download’ itself is a restricted version of the song. You are unable to move it onto another device – it has all the security features of DRM music. DRM was an attempt to contain music piracy that backfired somewhat because people complained about lack of control. Sounds familiar.
An Incomplete Masterpiece
I do use steaming sites, but I feel a split loyalty – like neither of them as a service is complete.
There is now a conflict between my two libraries. On one hand, I have a substantial amount of music in my iTunes, a collection that has moulded over time, and encompassed many different ‘phases’ of music.
I am sure if you have been a user of iTunes with any considerable amount of songs you will understand when I say that you have invested more than money in your collection. You are the librarian in change of achieving the soundtrack to your life. Your prerogative to make sure your collection is data cleansed from unnamed files and haphazardly names compilations. Has all that time now been proved as wasted?
Streaming online feels like a bit of a timeshare, so why doesn’t video?
Attitudes towards video streaming seem to be fairly different. There is less of a nostalgia surrounding the consumption of video content. I think this is due to television being a live medium, in which for the vast majority of its lifespan has been a medium with no playback past broadcasts being repeated.
The emotive nature of music helps us to define who we are; you are far more likely to be emotionally connected to a song longer term than you are to a video. Think how many times you think of a song in your head, rather than a scene from a film.
But the main reason why I don’t like music streaming websites is the level of control. You are at the will of the company you choose to provide you with the service. You have not got the power to distribute your music to all of your devices unless you adopt other software such as the Deezer mobile app.
Some people have adopted these changes and embraced all the services on offer but my own personal experience has been crippled by the very thing that makes it all possible. The internet. For now, I’m happy to load up iTunes. Are you?