The Next Track, Episode #217 – To Stream or to Own Music Redux

In episode #2 of The Next Track, we discussed streaming versus owning music. That was five years ago. We decided to revisit the topic, to see if we’ve changed our minds.

Help support The Next Track by making regular donations via Patreon. We’re ad-free and self-sustaining so your support is what keeps us going. Thanks!

Support The Next Track.

Find out more at The Next Track website, or follow The Next Track on Twitter at @NextTrackCast.

6 thoughts on “The Next Track, Episode #217 – To Stream or to Own Music Redux

  1. Great discussion guys, thanks. There were just two other issues I hoped you might touch on. You came close but maybe they are now seen as ancient cries in the wilderness (2016 is ancient, really?!!! Feels like yesterday to me. But then I have myself become an ancient in the time music streaming first became a thing and where we are now). First thing is: I’m still giving Apple Music’s streaming service a wide berth since the tags and cover art of my curated music library (from my CD collection) got messed up in the process of being uploaded to the Cloud and re-downloaded. Maybe that was an iTunes Match event. I don’t know, it was indeed a long time ago. Luckily my iTunes library was backed up so all was not lost, but it’s left me feeling very protective of my collection. Is it now safe to keep home-ripped tracks – complete with my own tags and the original cover art – and purchased tracks side-by-side in an Apple Music library without the former being “updated” or otherwise adulterated? The second point is that a premium subscription to Spotify still doesn’t buy me access to any sleeve notes or the texts to classical songs and choral works. I only get those when I buy an album outright, such as from iTunes. So the classical music industry is still withholding aspects of its products to those who would only be willing to stream. I’m glad you mentioned ECM and Hyperion. Hyperion’s policy is a bag of hurt for me because it produces many great recordings of my favourite classical genres. So am I shelling out for those or just doing without them? Hmm…

    • Re album artwork; that’s a cloud library problem. You can stream without using the cloud library. I don’t turn on the cloud library on my iMac, and use a cloud library with a subset of my music, and Apple Music tracks, on my laptop. I access that cloud library from my iPhone and iPad.

      I agree about liner notes. But perhaps Apple’s acquisition of Primephonic, announced this week, and the fact that they’re making a special app for classical music, means we’ll see liner notes in the future.

  2. Hi Kirk (and Philip). I switched to streaming about a year ago with a Qobuz subscription. I use it quite differently from the Apple model. If I read a review of classical (mostly), I get to find and listen to the work properly via Qobuz then if I like it, keep it in my favourites for future listening.

    Qobuz is organised by albums rather than songs. Which works for me even with popular music, e.g. listening to Dylan’s “Rough and Rowdy Ways”, I cannot imagine mixing those songs in with something different.

    Secondly, I mostly listen to Qobuz via Roon. If I flag a favourite in Q, then Roon shows it as part of my library, as if I had purchased it. Works a treat. @Philip, Roon allows me to keep my own curated tags and cover art and is careful not to mess with anything. Roon is terrific.

    I love Hyperion and respect their decision not to stream. For their releases, e.g. Ibragimova or Hough, I just buy them. The cost is small compared to the enjoyment.

    The biggest challenge with streaming is to ensure artists are fairly remunerated for using it as a channel. I hoped you would say more about that because it seems market forces alone will not give the companies or their artists a sufficient share of the pie, and the long term consequences are pretty worrying. I probably have all of the top ten 20thC Beethoven performers in my library. Many of those performances are now being superseded by young upstarts in 21stC. How is that going to happen if the AI keeps selecting and re-inforcing the existing canon?

    • Thanks Robert. I’ll certainly take a look at your suggestions. I’m shocked at how long it is since I last paid properly – not just with a streaming subscription – for music; even more so for a physical CD. But you’re absolutely right, we should be prepared to pay the artists properly for the enjoyment they give us.

  3. The thing I find a bit crazy is the current re-boom in vinyl. Of course this comes and goes, so no doubt it’ll burn itself out again when the current generation of kids buying it for the first time realise just how expensive it now is as a hobby (£30+ an album, £10 a 12″!), along with the mass of inconveniences of the format! (Try moving several thousand heavy records a few times from home to home; not fun, a massive hassle, ties you down on options, and very expensive in itself – oh, and homes are getting smaller, with a great many living in flats/apmts/condos with limited space as it is).

    Interestingly the main distribution method for this currently seems to be Bandcamp, where you’ll often have a “limited edition” vinyl version, or even several vinyl versions on different colour vinyl, and only a download (any codec you like, lossy or lossless), so often they even won’t bother offering a CD version.

    The idea labels/artists have is that for vinyl they know a select group of people will pay good markups for, so they can obviously make some decent money, while at the other end of the scale are those just that want digital of some kind, do selling a CD is an inconvenience most of those buyers won’t even bother with anyway, so they just offer the (lossless) download that can be gotten in seconds at a much more affordable price.

    Anyway, I keep meaning to check Roon out, as I’m currently a lossless iTunes/Music app user, who’s getting annoyed with the lack of controls for artwork et al., which Apple removed ages ago and seemingly aren’t bothered to replace – given their focus is clearly on more Apple Music streaming functions like scrolling lyrics, etc. 😐

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.