I have loved music since I was 10 years old and despite my fascination starting with Showaddywaddy and Shakin Stevens, it has grown to encompass a wide variety of genres and artists. Music to me is not something that plays in the background, it has to be given attention to truly understand what makes a particular song, voice or playing technique special. To do this you have to repeatedly listen to tracks and over time the same song can offer different emotions when you listen to it in different situations and with a different mood at play.
You simply cannot enjoy music to an intense level if you have on hand millions of tracks at any one moment. The temptation to continually try new songs is overwhelming and the more you do this, the more diluted the experience will be.
This is something I have experienced over the past few months with Apple Music and Deezer. The apps themselves are designed for subscribers and centre around playlists and discovery which takes away any sense of carrying a music ‘collection’ with you. The tracks fall to the background and become as important as bookmarks in a web browser, only less so because there are so many of them. Stations dominate as well with personalised lists of tracks ready for your daily commute should you wish to try something new, and so the endless discovery features come at you like a forceful bunch of code designed to never let you play the same track twice.
It dawned on me after some time that I was not enjoying music anymore. My daily commute was filled with podcasts, but it is not easy to listen to podcasts day after day without some level of repetition. Podcasts and certain other forms of entertainment can become noise, at least to me, but good music does not suffer when played repeatedly and can actually get better over time.
This is a bit of a random post and I am thinking about each aspect as I write, but over time I have drifted away from subscription music right back to the tracks I own and a simpler way to present them in a much less cluttered app. And I have done this while still having full access to millions of tracks at any time. All of this leaves me perplexed because I wonder if those who love music will want to own the music and if those who have a passing interest will want to pay each month for a subscription. Millions of users prove me wrong, but in the long term I remain convinced that music is more important than the experience a subscription service can offer. I have similar feelings with eBooks and have a sneaking suspicion that book subscription services are not doing well at all, despite some big name backing from the likes of Amazon.
I am back to loving music again and more importantly, being able to play the music I love without any hassle. It could be an age thing, but the chances of me subscribing to a music service feel remote at best at this time.