Some Thoughts on Streaming Music

Streaming music encourages detachment from the music; ownership encourages investment. When you flit around from one album, one song to another, you experience the music as mere entertainment. But when you own music, you’ve invested money in your purchase, which causes you to invest time in it as well. Instead of seeing the music is ephemeral, it enters your life, and you listen to it to see how it can change your life.

You may not like the music you’ve bought enough for it to become important to you; you may never listen to it more than a couple of times. But you may like it well enough that you listen to it frequently, and it may become a touchstone in your life. You can refer back to it easily: either by flipping through your shelves of CDs, or LPs, or by scrolling through your iTunes library, looking at what you listen to most, or what you’ve listened to recently, or just looking at what’s there, allowing each album, each artist’s name, each album cover, to elicit memories. With streaming, you don’t have that history of what you listened to, what you’ve invested your time in. So an album you listen to today may be forgotten in a year’s time.

In the end, it all comes down to how important music is to your life. If music, for you, it’s just a soundtrack, just background music, then streaming music will provide you the variety that you might want. But if music is important to you, if it contains an essential life essence for you, then you need to own the music you listen to in order to get to its marrow.